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Kolkata: The Cultural Capital of India


Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta, is the capital of West Bengal and the largest city in the region. Some even mistake Kolkata for West Bengal. Situated on the bank of the Hugli River, the city has all the examples of architectural brilliance. This city has produced some of the greatest minds in the history of India that include poets, film directors, Nobel prize winners, and whatnot. Letโ€™s take you to the narrow lanes of this beautiful city.

An overview of the city

The history of Kolkata deeply relates to the reign of the British East India Company. They announced Kolkata as the capital of undivided India in 1772. The first contemporary university of India, The University of Calcutta, was inaugurated in 1857 in Kolkata. Kolkata became the center of literature and art and the national independence movement started in this city.

The city is on the lower edge of West Bengal and has an area of 72 square miles. Park Street, officially known as Mother Teresa Sarani, divides the city into two halves. Kolkata has the largest Chinatown in India, so many ethnic Chinese nationals are living here with their families for ages. These are the regions of the Kolkata Municipality:

cars parked on the side of the road kolkata cities
Photo by Rohit Arora on Unsplash
  • Central Kolkata
  • East Kolkata
  • North Kolkata
  • South Kolkata
  • Southwest Kolkata
  • Howrah
  • Northern Towns
  • Eastern Towns

Places you must visit in Kolkata

Locals claim the city as the Queen of all cities, and people from all over India call her the City of Joy. The city justifies its nickname, as there are several tourist spots spread all over the city. I will categorize the places below to make your tour plan easier.


Ashutosh Museum of Indian Art:

Ashutosh Museum is a part of the University of Calcutta established in 1937, working to preserve the samples of Indian art and archaeology.

  • Address: Senate House, College Street.
  • Timing: 10:00 amโ€“4:00 pm
  • Entry Fee: INR 10
Biswarup Ganguly, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Nehru Childrenโ€™s Museum:

The museum is an initiative of the National Cultural Association trying to uphold Indian history and Hindu Mythology through dolls and toys among the younger generation.

  • Address: Chowrangi Road, Kolkata
  • Timing: 11:00 amโ€“07:00 pm
  • Entry Fee:
    • Adults: INR 20
    • Children: INR 10

Motherโ€™s Wax Museum:

The Museum is inspired by the Madame Tussauds Museum of London and was established in 2014. This is the first museum in India to display wax sculptures. You will see over 50 wax sculptures of national heroes and famous stars from all over the world here.

  • Address: HIDCO Tower, New Town
  • Timing: 12:00 pmโ€“07:00 pm
  • Entry Fee:
    • 0-3 years: Free
    • 3-12 years: INR 150
    • Over 12: INR 250
Softhunterdevil, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Rabindra Bharati Museum:

You all have heard about the Nobel-winning author Rabindranath Tagore, right? Rabindra Bharati museum is his paternal house and where he grew up. This place is also known as Jorashako Thakur Bari. This is an inseparable part of Rabindra Bharati University. You can see all of Tagoreโ€™s works here.

  • Address: Dwarakanath Tagore Lane, Jorashako
  • Timing: 10:00 amโ€“05:00 pm
  • Entry Fee:
    • Adults: INR 10
    • Students: INR 5
Biswarup Ganguly, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Birla Industrial & Technological Museum:

Birla ITM is the first science museum in India under the NCSM. The Ministry of Culture is directly engaged in the management of this museum. They targeted this museum at school and college-going students who will thoroughly enjoy the tour. Besides, they have multiple science shows for organized groups to portray the beauty of science.

  • Address: 19A, Gurusaday Dutta Road, Ballygunge.
  • Timing: 10:00 am-5:30 pm
  • Entry Fee:
    • Group of 25 or more: INR 25
    • Organized School Group: INR 20
    • Government Schools: INR 10
    • General Public: INR 30
Biswarup Ganguly, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Indian Museum:

The Indian Museum at Kolkata, also known as the Imperial Museum of Kolkata, is one of the nine oldest museums in the world. This is the largest Museum in India.

  • Address: Jawaharlal Nehru Road, Colootola, New Market
  • Timing: 10:00 amโ€“05:00 pm
  • Entry Fee:
    • Indian Adults: INR 50
    • Children above 5 years: INR 20
    • Children below 5 years: Free
    • Foreigners: INR 500
      • Smartphone with Camera: +50 INR
      • Camera: +100 INR
      • Small Video Camera: +2000 INR
      • Camera with Stand: +5000 INR
ยฉ Vyacheslav Argenberg /, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Historical Places

Marble Palace:

Marble Palace is a luxurious nineteenth-century villa in Kolkata made by landlord Raja Rajendra Mallick Bahadur in 1835. Any tourist will be impressed by its splendid architecture.

  • Opp Ram Temple, Mukhtaram Babu Street, Jorashako
  • Timing: 10:00 amโ€“02:00 pm
  • Entry: Free
Mitratanmoy01, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Victoria Memorial:

The Victoria Memorial is a large marble monument in Kolkata, inaugurated in 1921 in memory of the Late Queen of England, Queen Victoria. She was the empress of India from 1876 to 1901.

  • Address: 1 Queensโ€™s Way, Kolkata
  • Timing: 10:00 amโ€“04:00 pm
  • Entry Fee:
    • Indians: INR 30
    • Foreigners (SAARC): INR 100
    • Other Nationals: INR 500
    • Students up to Class XII(Uniform): Free
    • Army Personnel: Free
white building during daytime kolkata cities
Photo by Abhisek Paul on Unsplash

James Prinsep Ghat:

This is a ghat on the bank of the Hugli River built in 1841, in the memories of the prominent Anglo-Indian academic and archaist James Prinsep.

  • Address: Fort William, Hastings
  • Timing: 10:00 amโ€“05:30 pm
  • Entry Fee: Entry Restricted (Prior Permission Needed)
white and blue bridge under white sky during daytime kolkata cities
Photo by SOURAV MAITY on Unsplash

Fort William:

As the name suggests, Fort William is a Fort built on the banks of the Hugli River. This fort is a prime example of the power of the British Monarchy in Undivided India. The place extends to a large area of over 0.7 square kilometers.

  • Address: Maidan, Hastings
  • Timing: 24 hours

Howrah Bridge:

Howrah Bridge, locally known as Rabindra Bridge, is an artistic and architectural masterpiece situated over the Hugli River. This bridge connects Kolkata and Howrah city. Howrah Bridge replace the Pontoon bridge in 1943

  • Address: Howrah Bridge: Fairley Place, Kolkata
  • Timing: 24 hours
lightened bridge at night kolkata cities
Photo by Ravi Singh on Unsplash


Racecourse, officially known as Royal Calcutta Turf Club, is the largest horse race venue in India. This venue hosts the most prestigious horse race competitions in India including Calcutta Derby and Queen Elizabeth Cup.

  • Address: Golf Club Road, Tollygunge
  • Timing: 05:00 amโ€“06:00 pm
  • Entry Fee: Non-members: INR 50
racecourse kolkata cities
Rangan Datta Wiki, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Rabindra Sadan:

Rabindra Sadan is the reunion of Bengali Theatre and Cultural activities. This place is the center of attraction for the Bengali community as the place portrays the Bengali culture by organizing plays, cultural programs, and other recreational programs. This place was inaugurated by the late prime minister of India. Jawaharlal Nehru in 1961.

  • Address: Lal Dighi, Gora Bazar, Berhampur
  • Timing: 10:00 amโ€“09:00 pm
  • Entry Fee: Depends on the show.
rabindra sadan kolkata cities
Biswarup Ganguly, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

How to go to Kolkata

By Air:

Kolkata has an international airport named Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport. For, most countries, you will have to come to Mumbai or Delhi first. Kolkata Airport has commuter flights to 60 destinations in 11 countries.

The top international destinations are Dhaka, Bangkok, Singapore, Dubai, Kuala Lampur, Chittagong, Doha, Paro, Kathmandu, Hanoi, Phuket, Yangon, and Guangzhou. If you are from one of these cities, you can book flights directly to Kolkata. Otherwise, you will have to transit through Mumbai or Delhi.

By Road:

Although India has borders with seven countries, Only Bangladeshi locals can travel to Kolkata by road conveniently. West Bengal has borders with both Bhutan and Bangladesh, but Bangladesh is much closer to Kolkata.

Multiple bus operators are operating directly from Dhaka to Kolkata during the day. During the night, you need to go to Benapole first and then cross the border. Then you must take a bus from Petrapole to Kolkata. Bus fares vary from BDT 700 to BDT 1500.

By Train:

Maitree Express is a joint venture of the Bangladesh and Indian governments. The train departs from Dhaka Cantonment Station at 8:10 am on Friday, Sunday, and Tuesday. The immigration process is completed in Dhaka Cantonment Station and Kolkata Chitpur Station.

By Ship:

Yes, you read it right. Dhaka to Kolkata now has a launch service too. MV Madhumati operates on this route regularly. Ticket prices are mentioned below:

  • Family Suite: BDT 15,000
  • Deluxe: BDT 10,000
  • Economy Chair: BDT 8,000
  • First Class: BDT 5000
  • Deck: BDT 1500

Where to Stay

Kolkata has many hotels and guest houses. The hotels are mainly in the new market Area, Marquis Street, central street, and Park Street. You can choose a hotel according to your budget and preference. The hotel fares range from INR 500 to INR 1000. But this can change depending on availability and demand.

If you are a lone traveler or backpacker, I suggest you go to Marquis Street or Mirza Galib Street as there are some very good hotels in the low-budget segment. Besides, you can stay in hostels and dorms at a cheaper rate. You can also share your room with other tourists, but I would suggest you do not do that as there is a security concern.

Ranktip at English Wikipedia, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons


Kolkata plays a significant role in portraying Indian culture and tradition to foreigners, as it is one of the few Indian cities attracting the most foreign tourists. The city has some historical landmarks that remind us of its significance in Indian History.

As a bonus, it connects people from two different countries because of their cultural and linguistic similarities. With that being said, Kolkata is indeed one of the most attractive cities in the world.

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