A. ABOUT KOLKATA
Kolkata the city of joy as it is called, is also commonly considered as the ‘Paris of the East’ as there’s a happy amalgamation of different cultures, styles and moods, coupled along with numerous forms of industries and commerce and politics. Kolkata mainly gained importance in the times of British rule as it had been the capital of India till the year1912. At present, although it is no more the capital of India, it is the capital of West Bengal and is one of the most important place of cultural workshop and industrial centre.
While Kolkata was one of the best examples of British rule in the past, at present it is a kaleidoscope of contrasting ideas, life and culture, which would be found nowhere else in the world. Kolkata is the best example of both the old and new, the orient and the occident, where lives both the poor and the rich. Kolkata mirrors warmth, culture, creativity, intellectualism and artistic development considering that Kolkata is the home to four best Nobel laureates – Rabindranath Tagore, Ronald Ross, Mother Teresa and Amartya Sen.
However, it is the Durga Puja during which Kolkata is at its best and the most resplendent. Still, it doesn’t in any way lag behind during either Eid or Christmas or New Year.
Irrespective of where you are from, you will feel at home in this city – in Kolkata.
Summer temperature : 30’C – 40’C Hottest Month: May Winter temperature : 10’C – 30’C Coolest Month: JanuaryAnnual Rainfall : 1582 mm. Max. Rainfall Month: August A Tropical, Wet and Dry Climate zone, with high summer humidity, the best time to visit Kolkata is between October and March.
CULTURE AND DEMOGRAPHICS
Major Ethnic Communities: Bengali.; Others : Marawari, Oriya, Bihari, Gujrati, Chinese, Nepali, Anglo- Indian, Armenian, Punjabi, Tamili, Telegu, Malyali and Parsi. Major Languages Spoken : Bengali, Hindi, Urdu, Oriya, Bhojpuri and English.Sects : Hindu Muslim, Christian, Jain.
Women wear Saris and Men Punjabis and Dhoti. However, western clothing is worn by both sexes. Wearing Cotton and breathing fabrics is advisable due to the humid climate, especially in summer.
B. IN AND ARROUND KOLKATA
Built between 1906 and 1921 in memory of Queen Victoria, the area comprises 64 acres of land with gardens, pool and walk trails. Currently the memorial building serves as a museum. The building has galleries with paintings, portraits of eminent personalities, documents witnessing the city’s history during the British period.
Timings: 5:30am – 7:00pm Museum: 10:00am – 7:00pm Phone: 22231890
The Birla Planetarium in Kolkata is a single storey circular structure designed in typical Indian style. The architecture is loosely styled on Sanchi’s iconic Buddhist stupa. This 1962 planetarium is one of the largest planetarium in Asia and presents slow-moving, half-hour audio-visual programs on the wonders of the universe and mysteries of deep space.
Timings: All days of the week except Monday 11:00am-05:00PM Phone: 033 2223 1516 Location: PO Belur Math, Dist Howrah.
ST. PAUL’S CATHEDRAL
St. Paul’s Cathedral was the first ‘Episcopal Cathedral Church’ in an oriental country. The foundation stone was laid in 1839. It was completed in 1847 by Major Forbes . The main cathedral hall is large with beautifully carved wooden pews and chairs along with the stained glass window to the west, the intricate coloured artwork covering the eastern walls, the two marvellous Florentine frescoes. The church is 247 ft. in length and 81 ft. in width and the tower is 201 ft. high. The Cathedral is set within huge grounds with several ancient trees. The life and work of St. Paul is vividly described in pictures. The ambience of the church is very soothing and tranquil .
Spread over 10000 sq ft, constructed in 1878, it is India’s largest and oldest museum with over sixty galleries of art, archaeology, anthropology, geology, zoology botany section.
Timings: Tue-Sun 10am-5pm (Monday closed) Phone: 22861699 Location: Jawaharlal Nehru Road.
A marvel of British engineering, this huge cantilever bridge, strung on 270 feet high pillars connects Calcutta from Howrah. Its four traffic lanes are daily used by over a lakh vechicles. the newly constructed Vidya Sagar Setu is also a cable suspended bridge meant to reduce traffic on the old Howrah Bridge. Ferry rides are available near the bridges.
ACADEMY OF FINE ARTS
Estd. in 1933, it contains impressive collection of Indian art. The collection, mostly donated by Lady Ranu Mukherjee, includes rare painting of Rabindranath Tagore, Jamini Roy, contemporary Indian art, medieval Bengal and Indian textiles, sculptures, miniature paintings manuscripts. Group theatres, dance programs, cultural shows are arranged in the auditorium around the year.
Timings: Art Galleries: Daily open 3-8 pm except national holidays. Museum Daily 12-7 pm except Monday.Phone: 2223 4302Location: 2, Cathedral Road, Kolkata – 700 071.
On the Eastern bank of Hooghly in South Kolkata, it is believed that Lord Shiva dropped Sati’s right toe here while carrying her burnt remains back from Daksha’s Yagna. An important pilgrimage site, Kolkata derives its name from here as well.
Situated 8 kms from the city, on the west bank of the Hooghly, covering an area of 273 acres, this is one of the oldest and largest botanical gardens of India. It contains about 12000 plants and the main attraction – the gaint size banyan tree that is said to have the second largest canopy in the world. A plethora bof orchids and other flowers and a library with botany books are other attractions.
Belur Math, Belur Math, sprawling over forty acres of land on the western bank of the Hooghly (Ganga), in Howrah district, an hour’s drive from Kolkata, is a place of pilgrimage for people from all over the world professing different religious faiths.It was at Belur Math that Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), the foremost disciple of Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886), lived the last years of his brief life.
The Alipore Zoological Gardens (also called Kolkata Zoo), is India’s oldest zoological park and a big tourist attraction in Kolkata, West Bengal. It has been open as a zoo since 1876. The wonders of Kolkata Zoo seem quite infinite. The exotic Manipur Brow Antlered Deer is one such enticing specie which is found in the zoo. Among other features, the zoological garden has separate spaces for each and every mammal, reptile & rare kind of bird. The majestic royal Bengal tiger roaring infront of an artificial cave which is enclosed by elevated boundaries. There is a separate zoo in the premises of the main garden which is meant to amuse the kids only.
The Thakurbari means House of The Thakurs(anglicized to Tagore) in Jorasanko, north of Kolkata, West Bengal, India is the ancestral home of the Tagore family. It was built in the 18 th century by prince Dwarkanath Tagore (Rabindranath Tagore’s grandfather). The house of Tagore family is currently serves as the Tagore Museum for Kolkata. The museum offers details about the history of the Tagore family including its involvement with the Bengal Renaissance and the Brahmo Samaj.
MOTHER HOUSE & MUSEUM
Mother House is also known as Missionaries of Charity, Established in 1950 by Mother Teresa, is a Roman Catholic.Mother Teresa spends her crucial 17-years in Darjeeling of Bengal. Kolkata is the center of Mother’s humanitarian activities. The first ever home of her was “Nirmal Hriday” for the dying & sick peoples. She established “Sishu Bhavan” for those who are orphaned, disables and mentally retarded. “Shanti Nagar” was established by her for AIDS hospices and Lepers.