Regarded as India’s intellectual and cultural capital, Kolkata, the second-biggest city of India, is a universe in itself. For some, Kolkata conjures up images of human suffering because of the devastating famine, and for some it’s a mix of colonial-era architecture contrasting starkly with urban slums along with modern suburbs with air-conditioned malls. However, everyone who visits comes away with the feeling that this is a city with a feel-good vibe. Here are some of the top places to check out when visiting the Kolkata.
Originally, the Writers’ Building was built to serve as the office of the writers of the British East India Company, before it served as the Secretariat Building of the State Government of West Bengal until the 4th of October 2013. Construction began as early as 1690, and the building got its name owing to the fact that it served as the dwelling place for the junior writers of the East India Company. During 1882, the Writers Building acquired its current Victorian facade when the octagonal Bengal Legislative Council Chamber was added on the western end. This gigantic building is also known as ‘Mahakaran‘, where all the important documents and other records of the West Bengal Government are preserved.
BBD Bagh was named after three valiant leaders Benoy, Badal and Dinesh, it’s also known as Dalhousie Square. It is the former seat of British administration and commerce. The B.B.D. Bagh area is near the Hooghly River in the western part of central Kolkata and is a square built around the old Lal Dighi tank. The old fort built by the British was near where the General Post Office now is. The whole square exudes rich architecture expressed in Georgian, Victorian, and late Gothic architectural styles. It provides a picturesque history lesson as to why the British chose Kolkata as the capital of their empire.
Founded in 1814, the Indian Museum is the earliest and the largest multipurpose Museum, not only in the Indian subcontinent, but also in the Asia-Pacific region of the world. It has six sections comprising thirty-five galleries of cultural and scientific artifacts – namely Art, Archaeology, Anthropology, Geology, Zoology and Economic Botany. It boasts exquisite collections of armor, antiques, ornaments, skeletons, fossils, mummies and beautiful Mughal paintings. It is a fine structure built in the Doric style of architecture with steps leading to a grand portico at the front. The carriage entrance is at the back under a lofty covered portico. If you decide to visit, don’t miss out on seeing the urn that is said to contain the ashes of Buddha.
Peter Cat is a legendary restaurant in Kolkata and has managed to survive both a fire and the passage of time. Opened way back in the sixties, it remains as popular as it was then. The interiors are dimly lit and the attire of the servers, crisp Rajasthani red and white costumes, take you back to a bygone era. The menu, which comes to you in the shape of a cat’s head, is a real delight, showcasing Continental and North Indian cuisine.
Situated at Chowringhee Road, Birla Planetarium is the largest planetarium in Asia and the second largest planetarium in the world. It was inaugurated in July 1963 by then Prime Minister Nehru. It is a single-storey circular structure designed in the traditional Indian style, whose architecture is loosely styled on the Buddhist Stupa at Sanchi. It has an electronics laboratory for design and fabrication of science equipment, and an astronomy gallery that maintains a huge collection of fine paintings and celestial models of renowned astronomers. It offers more than 100 astronomical projects dealing with various facts of astronomy, astrophysics, Space Science as well as myths concerning stars and planets.
Victoria Memorial is one of the most famous and beautiful monuments of Kolkata. It was built between 1906 and 1921 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s 25-year reign in India. This huge white-marble museum, made from Makrana marbles from Rajasthan, is filled with a vast collection of remnants from the period of British Empire rule in India. The architecture is stunning, consisting of a great dome, clustered with four subsidiary, octagonal domed chattris, high portals, a terrace and domed corner towers. The Memorial is situated on 64 acres of land divided into different sections; the garden, library and others for maintenance. It also houses a host of valuable articles like the dagger of Tipu Sultan, a cannon used in the battle of Plassey, rare books that date back to 1870, valuable manuscripts like the Ain-i-Akbari by Abul Fazal and rare postage stamps.