The Top Things to See and Do in South Kolkata

Photo of Shreyas Kulkarni
9 February 2017

South Kolkata is one of the prime districts of Kolkata, known for its lush green parks, ancient temples, gardens and hospitals and for being less congested and more modern when compared to the rest of the city. It’s a happening place well known for its shopping options or the legendary restaurants serving up delicious international and local cuisine. It’s a treat to have the opportunity to unravel South Kolkata; you are welcomed with fresh air, greenery and lots of sights – so be prepared to walk!

Tollygunge Club

Ranked amongst the top 20 Clubs of the world, the Tollygunge Club, Kolkata, is the only Country Club of its kind in India. Located in the southern part of Kolkata, only 9kms from the centre of the city, it is spread over a hundred acres with a Club House that is over 220 years old. It was founded in 1895 as a meeting ground for British Merchants and bankers; it now boasts a range of facilities rarely found under a single roof: golf, tennis, squash, indoor and outdoor swimming, riding and amateur equestrian sports. There is also a well-equipped and extensively used gym with professional instructors. The Club has a bridge room, a billiards room, a pro-shop, a well-stocked library, cyber café, unisex salon and herbal ayurvedic centre. You can also enjoy some great food at the restaurant.

Deshapran Sasmal Road, Tollygunge, Kolkata, West Bengal, India +91 33 2417 6022

National library

The National Library of India on the Belvedere Estate in Alipore, Kolkata, is the largest library in India by volume and India’s library of public record. Access to the National Library main reading room (Bhasha Bhavan) is strictly controlled. Visitors need to have an approved Reader’s pass to the reading hall. For that they need to fill in an application form (available on the National Library website) and get it attested by a Government Gazetted officer. Apart from holding vital documents and literary works, it is claimed that the library is haunted and shouldn’t be visited during the evening or night. In 2010, archaeologists discovered a mysterious room that no one knew about and no one can enter because it seems to have no opening of any kind, not even trapdoors. Theories range from a torture chamber or a sealed tomb for an unfortunate soul or, the most favoured of all, a treasure room. It’s a spectacular place for literary buffs and for mystery lovers, too.

Oh! Calcutta

A meal at this Bengali-speciality restaurant gives a flavour of the various settlements that influenced Bengali cuisine, like that of the Portuguese, Armenian and Jewish. Fresh ingredients and authentic preparations are the hallmarks here. Try their signature dishes like the Barbecued Apple Prawns and Cottage Cheese Steak in Honey – simply delicious. It’s an iconic structure in Kolkata and you shouldn’t miss it.

Price: Fine dining

Opening hours: 12.30pm-3pm 7.30pm-11pm

Watch out for: Rasun Bhapa Machh

4th Floor, Forum Shopping Mall, Elgin Road, Kolkata, West Bengal, India +91 33 2283 7161

Alipore Zoo

The Alipore Zoo is India’s oldest formally stated zoological park and a big tourist attraction in Kolkata. Winter is the best time to visit, when you will be able to see migratory birds. However, there’s plenty to see in other seasons, with birds like Emu, Macaws, Lorikeet, Hornbills, Ostrich, Swinhoe’s Pheasant, Golden Pheasant and Lady Amherst’s Pheasant, and animals such as Royal Bengal Tiger, White Tiger, Indian Elephant, One-horned Rhinoceros, wild Yak, Banteng, Rhinos, Giraffe, and reptiles.

Price: Budget

Opening hours: 9am-5pm

Alipore Rd, Kolkata, West Bengal, India +91 33 2479 1150

Kalighat Temple

Kalighat Temple houses Kolkata’s patron deity (Kali, the goddess of death.) The temple is also famous because Mother Theresa opened her first dying home next to the temple. The original temple was a small hut constructed by King Manasingha in the early Sixteenth century. In its present form it is only about 200 years old, but it is one of the holiest sites in Hinduism, as it is the seat of the greatest idol of Bengal’s patron goddess. The idol, which depicts eyes staring from the blackness of death, is unconventional and often replicated in sacred art throughout India. The temple is also the site of some of the last legal regular animal sacrifice in India due to special protections for the practice.

Kalighat, Kolkata, West Bengal, India +91 33 2243 6440

By Shreyas Kulkarni

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