A Travelogue :
CALCUTTA | KOLKATA : I don't know why Kolkata is called the 'city of joy'. I've been there several times, 'joy' was the last thing I felt. Err okay...maybe a little bit!
It is not a tourist place at all ( the way I see it ). It is just a crowded city, land-marked by some British monuments, as it was once the British capital ( of erstwhile East India Company ). The city does scream history and revolutions at almost every corner ( what with the communists ruling the place for over 30+ years ).
It did have lots of possibilities to be a grand city like it was in the past, but somewhere things went wrong ( mostly because of political reasons ) and it ended up now, just like any other third world city would be.
When I was very young, I had visited the city as a tourist with my parents and do have some vague memories of travelling in its famous 'trams' or watching the 'howrah bridge' in awe, and visiting some gardens ( I must've have been around 9-10 yrs old then ). I remember staying in an old hotel that used to shake every time a tram went past. We used to go down and buy lots of 'beguni's ( brinjal dipped in batter and fried ) that'd we'd eat almost every day. It was just yummy.
Later on, I had visited it several times as my relative lived there for a couple of years in Tollygaunge ( so, I just saw the nearby places then like Gariahat/Dakhineshwar ). I also once stayed in a hotel, just behind Howrah station. Calcutta has also been my transit point during all my journeys to and fro BOM-GHY route.
Two things you wont miss when you are in Kolkata :
1. The Sweet Shops - Sweet shops, sweet shops everywhere. Here a sweet shop, there a sweet shop, everywhere a sweet shop. Need I say more what you'll find at those sweet shops? The pphhaaamous 'ROSOGOLLAS' and 'SONDESH' and plenty more! In fact, a huge Galaxy of a wide variety of sweets awaits you to give you the 'diebetes' ( pun intended ).
2. The Man-Pulled Rickshaw - Now these will really give you a fright ( it did for me ) as the man simply pulls the rickshaw across the streets by its two long handles, and goes rapidly via its narrow lanes and also runs fast amidst the heavy traffic, sweating away ( watch the famous movie 'Do Bigha Zamin' starring Balraj Sahni for reference ).
Phew! Some stamina it requires, especially during summer months! I almost felt guilty sitting on one.
Kolkata has some historical sites of interest to visit, of which The Victoria Memorial is the most famous, for its grand architecture. It has a museum and a pleasant, well manicured garden in the front.
If you love to see Kolkata at its traditional best, go there during the Durga Puja festival. You'll be overwhelmed at the grand celebrations the city sees, during that time.
It also has some botanical gardens and theatre/plays worth watching & visiting. Kolkata has a rich literature background and music culture as well, worth exploring!
It has some famous markets for some cool ethnic wear and wares shopping.
Check out the Places of interest in Kolkata - Here
The city is big and you can get lost ( I almost did once ) if you don't know the proper map/locations and getting to the main railway station/airport can take a long time ( depending on where you are staying ) as the city is spread across wide. And unlike Bombay taxi-walas, I wouldn't trust the Kolkata ones which run on somewhat doubtful meters.
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