Things to do in Kolkata: Exploring the City of Joy

Sightseeing

Top things to do in Kolkata

Endearingly known as the 'City of Joy', Kolkata has managed to retain the vintage charm and old-world charisma through the years and still emerged as one of the most developed cities of the country. There are innumerous places to visit and uncountable things to do in Kolkata. From the historic Fort William, to the Science City, the Museums and boating in the Princep Ghat, there are a myriad exciting things to do in Kolkata. You can ride the dainty trams, or shop in the local markets or taste the local cuisines. You can also visit the very famous Sundarbans. Check out our elaborate list of things to do in Kolkata, given below!

Here is the list of 32 Things to do in Kolkata: Exploring the City of Joy

1. Visit the Classic Victoria Memorial

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Another symbol of the British Raj in India, the Victoria Memorial is located in the heart of Kolkata, which was formerly known as Calcutta, in West Bengal, India. This white marbled beauty, which can rightly be called the epitome of grace and elegance, was built in memory of Queen Victoria to celebrate her 25 years of rule over India. Lord Curzon, the then Viceroy of India, undertook the task of putting up this magnificent monument for people to see and appreciate, and today visting the Victoria Memorial is counted as one of the best things to do in Kolkata.

2. Take a Ferry Ride near Howrah Bridge

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The iconic landmark of Kolkata, Howrah Bridge is a massive steel structure which is considered as one of the longest cantilever bridges of its type in the world. Also called as Rabindra Setu, it extends across the Hooghly River and connects Howrah and Kolkata. For those who wish to see the grandeur of the bridge, you are recommended an excellent ride in the ferry services between Kolkata and Howrah, offered from Launch Ghat. The view of the city from the ferry, especially in the night, is priceless, to say the least, and riding the ferry is one of the best things to do in Kolkata.

3. Reminisce the Historical Times in Fort William

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The mighty edifice of Fort William is situated in the city of Kolkata, on the eastern bank of the  Hooghly River. Built in the year 1696, the fort gets its name from King William III and was the first stronghold of the British in the country. The imposing structure of Fort William is embellished with hundreds of archlike windows and overlook lush green gardens. Meticulous stonework adorns the surface of the building and took as long as took ten years to reach completion. Along with a myriad other things to do in Kolkata, visiting here is one of the topmost.

4. Enjoy a Vintage Tram Ride

When in the City of Joy, do not forget to enjoy a dainty tram ride across town. The activity is one of the top things to do in Kolkata and the experience is going to be one of the most funnest experiences ever. The rusty trams maintain the very vintage charm and are equipped with a TV and FM radio. Although it was originally an important medium of transport, the trams have lately become really popular with tourists.

5. Tour the Cosmos at Birla Planetarium

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Kolkata's Birla Planetarium is a magnificent edifice set up by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on 2nd July 1963. This one in Kolkata is one of the three planetariums present in India and is hailed as the largest of its kind in the world. Also known as Taramandal, the Birla Planetarium regularly hold many programs are in various languages including Hindi, English, Bengali, and other regional languages. It airs several Sci-fi shows themed on the cosmos and watching one of them is truly one of the most unique things to do in Kolkata. The planetarium also houses numerous innovations and creativity, giving out knowledge to its fellow visitors.

6. Pay Your Respects at Belur Math

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Sprawling over forty acres of land on the west bank of the Hooghly River, Belur; the Belur Math in Kolkata is a place of pilgrimage and also the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission. People from all over the world, irrespective of the religion that they believe in, visit this temple to enjoy the tranquillity and serenity that it imbues. The temple is noted for its excellent architecture, which skilfully and artistically fuses Hindu, Christian and Islamic motifs together as a symbol of unity of all religions.

7. Wildlife Trek in the Sundarbans

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Known for hosting the biggest mangrove forests in the world, Sundarbans National Park is located in West Bengal, India. It is also a Tiger Reserve and a Biosphere reserve that provides a complete nature's circle to the tourist right from 'Royal Bengal tigers' to roaring rivers and beautiful estuaries. Sundarbans National Park is a part of Sundarban delta that is covered with Mangrove Forest and the largest population of the Bengal Tigers. It is a UNESCO world heritage site with a large variety of birds and reptiles including salt-water crocodile. If you have time at hand, you should definitely put this under your list of things to do in Kolkata. The experience is going to be absolutely surreal.

Best Time: September to March

8. Spiritual Retreat at St. Paul's Cathedral

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Located in the heart of the City of Joy Kolkata, St Paul's is an Anglican cathedral under CNI ? Church of North India. It is a must-visit for those who seek enriching historical and architectural pleasure in their vacation trips. Right in the middle of the busy buzzing metro city, this colossal structure reminds you of the colonial times and takes you down the lane of history. Travellers keep this among the top things to do in Kolkata when they come here. It looks most beautiful during the Christmas holidays, when the cathedral, the garden around it as well as the surrounding streets are all bathed in light and festivities.

9. Marvel at the Architecture of Birla Mandir

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Birla Temple is a glowing structure that adorns the streets of Kolkata and is a shrine dedicated to Lord Krishna and Goddess Radha. An imposing structure amalgamating traditional style of architecture with modern reflections, the temple is the perfect specimen of craftsmanship and engineering genius. The construction of this splendid edifice began in the year 1970 and after meticulous work spanning over 26 years, it reached its completion on 21st February 1996. The unique patterns on the wall of the temple are sculpted by the artisans specially called from Agra, Mirzapur and Muzaffarpur.  Make sure you put this under your list of things to do in Kolkata and we promise you will be awed by the magnificent architecture and genius craftsmanship.

10. Taste the Savoury Street Food

Kolkata - the Cultural Capital of India is a heaven for foodies and especially for people with a sweet tooth. Bengali sweets are famous and certainly needs no introduction, however; the spicy, tangy and absolutely mouth-watering dishes that Kolkata has to offer will leave you undecided on whether you like the spicy Bengali cuisine more or the melting flavors of the sweetmeats. Add to that the traditional Chinese and Tibetan food that are found here and you're spoilt for choices. Tasting the local street food is one of the top things to do in Kolkata.

11. Visit the Iconic Eden Gardens

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The Eden Gardens is a beautiful, well- maintained garden and cricket stadium located in Kolkata's B. B. D. Bagh area, near State Secretariat and Calcutta High Court. It was established in the year 1864 and was laid by Governor- General Auckland, who named them after his sisters Emily and Fanny Eden. Stretched over 50 acres, this cricket stadium has the capacity to seat about 66,349 people and is the second largest stadiums in the world. Touring the magnificent garden is one of the top things to do in Kolkata. When it is not hosting some of the most nail- biting sporting events, Eden Gardens also doubles up as a quaint destination for nature lovers. The subtle pathways of Eden Gardens are shaded by huge mahogany, mango and banyan trees that make it a peaceful place to sit and enjoy the marvels of nature.

12. Watch Sunset at Prinsep Ghat

Prinsep Ghat, located on the banks of River Hooghly, is a majestic structure famous for its Greek/ Gothic inlays. The beauty of Princep Ghat draws architecture and history buffs in large numbers, but even locals visit to absorb the regal vibe of the attraction. With the magnificent Howrah Bridge in the background, watching the sunrise or sunset and taking a long walk in the cool air on the banks of the river are some of the preferred recreational activities here and some of the top things to do in Kolkata.

13. Roam the Park Street

Park Street is a major access route in Kolkata, also officially known as Mother Teresa Sarani. The street begins at Chowringhee Road or JL Nehru road and stretches till Park Circus crossing. It is said that Park Street never sleeps and is always bustling with activities. Being a major hangout spot in the city, it has many pubs and restaurants. Several important routes intersect or originate from Park Street. The street has been a crowd puller since the reign of the British Kingdom and undergone modifications that make it a fashionable hangout spot and hanging out here is one of the best things to do in Kolkata. Park Street is one area in the city where one will find 5-Star restaurant and hotels, nightclubs/pubs, malls and several eateries. It is one of the prime entertainment and recreational zone in Kolkata.

14. Shop Your Heart Out at Chowringhee

Chowringhee, officially known as Jawaharlal Nehru Road, is a happening hub and frequently visited by locals for recreational activities and shopping. It is one of the few localities in the city with top end boutiques, hotels, malls, shops and restaurants. The region also has several heritage buildings nearby that tourists can explore. These buildings were built during the British era and are famous for their architecture and historical importance that photographers shouldn't miss at all. It is one of the places for the night owls searching for nightclubs/ pubs. With the Chowringhee Market nearby, the area is a paradise for shopaholics and you should definitely put this under your bucket list of things to do in Kolkata.

15. Haunted Adventures at South Park Street Cemetery

South Park Street Cemetery is an 18th-century non-church cemetery, one of the earliest in the world. It is now a heritage site in Kolkata and maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. Most of the tombs in the South Park Street Cemetery are aesthetically beautiful and very attractive. It, thus, has a unique charm that draws tourists in large numbers. Some tombs have a mysterious while some have a soothing vibe. One such tomb is grave number 363 which is the oldest and belongs to a woman who never wished to have her name revealed. The tomb architecture is mostly a mix of Gothic and Indo-Saracenic with miniature replicas on stone. The cemetery has an unusual charm that is attractive as well as unsettling. And if you are an adventurer at heart, you should definitely put this in your bucket list of things to do in Kolkata.

16. Take a Day Trip Santiniketan

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Known For : Tagore's ashrama Poush Mela Amar Kutir Rabindra Bhaban Museum

Known to few, mainly as Rabindranath Tagore's home and now a university, Santiniketan is a small town located in the Birbhum district of West Bengal, 160 kms from Kolkata. The town comprises mainly of Visva Bharati University. The University was set up by Rabindranath Tagore's father and later popularized by him to radically change the concept of education in India. Today, this beautifully laid out university and small sleepy town has acquired the status of a unique tourist haven, where lines of knowledge and aesthetic brilliance merge.

Best Time: Mid August to March

17. Natural Retreat at Sonajhuri Forest

Away from the mell pell of the city lies a hidden gem in the state of West Bengal. Considered to be one of the most clean forests in India, Sonajhuri Forest is a great retreat to be close to nature. The Sonajhuri Forest is replete with lush green trees that has blooming flowers. This place is picturesque with quite a number of mesmerizing places to see and explore. This place is untouched by industrialization and is a inhabited by tribal who lead simple lives. The pristine river flowing alongside the forest makes the whole place look even more magical. Just like Tagore, after seeing its beauty, this place might invoke the poet in you. If you are a nature lover, it is definitely one of the best things to do in Kolkata and will keep you calling back for more.

18. Find Peace at St John's Church

St John's Church is one of the oldest churches in Kolkata that was built during the reign of the British Kingdom when the city was the capital of British India. The church served as Anglican Cathedral till St. Paul's Cathedral was made the Anglican cathedral in 1847. It is a splendidly well-maintained structure that draws history and architecture buffs for its uniqueness and ancient features. One may notice the unique tall features of St John's Church which is a characteristic part of the neoclassical architecture. The colour scheme and the stained glass windows add to the character of the structure. The church maintains utmost silence to allow the visitors to sit in peace for at least a moment and visiting this remarkable structure is one of the top things to do in Kolkata.

19. Embrace the Scientist in You at Science City

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One of its kind in India, the Science city was inaugurated on 1st July 1997. It is a major attraction for the residents of Kolkata as well as for the people visiting Kolkata. It is one of the finest and the largest science museums in the world and provides a fun way of learning science. The science city is a perfect blend of education with fun. There is a special section dedicated to the aquatic world wherein you can learn every minute detail about the various fishes and insects in the aquatic world. All in all, science city is going to offer you a phenomenal experience with your friends and family and totally make your holiday worth it. You should definitely put this in your list of top things to do in Kolkata.

20. Shop Till You Drop

Shopping is always fun, isn't it? Clinically proven to be a great stress buster, shopping helps you to de-stress after a long day at work. And when you visit a place it almost becomes mandatory to bring back knick- knacks for friends and family. Well, here we are, ready to take you all on a virtual tour around the markets surrounding Kolkata- the city of joy. Kolkata is also famous for the cheap stuff available owing to its proximity to all the major ports around the globe. So make sure you absolutely put market hopping under your top things to do in Kolkata.

21. Picnic in the Eco Tourism Park

Eco Tourism Park is an expansive urban park designed to promote eco-tourism in the city. It is the biggest urban park in India and occupies over 475 acres of land. The beauty of the location increases ten folds because of a water body that surrounds the park and forms an island in the middle. It is often visited by picnickers or those who want a quick escape from the mundane lives. The beautiful and well-maintained landscape is a perfect retreat for nature lovers and visiting here is one of the top things to do in Kolkata. All the facilities provided inside the park are designed to decrease the adverse effects on nature through non-pollution and preservation of the natural landscape.

22. Revisit History at the Indian Museum

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The ninth oldest museum of the world and largest in India, the Indian Museum is located in the old city of Kolkata. The foundation stone of the Indian Museum was laid down in the year 1814 and has been a centre of multidisciplinary activities ever since. Popularly known as 'Jadughar', it exhibits some of the finest collection of historical importance ranging from contemporary paintings and a sacred relic of Buddha to Egyptian mummies and ancient sculptures. In addition to these, the Indian Museum boasts of some of the most exquisite collections of ornaments, fossils, skeletons, antiques, armours, and stunning Mughal paintings. Make sure you put this on your list of things to do in Kolkata as it is one of the topmost experiences.

23. Tour the Birla Industrial & Technological Museum

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Being the first scientific and industrial museum in India, Birla Industrial and Technological Museum (BITM) is one of the prime attractions of Kolkata. The museum was set up on 2nd May 1959 and opened to the general public. Dr B.C. Roy, who was the chief minister of Bengal at that time, followed the idea of opening the museum. It was first known as Birla Park and within three years was converted into a museum. Situated on the Gurusaday Road in Kolkata, the palatial museum has become a famous tourist attraction visited to view the galleries and 3D shows organized in the premises.

24. Birdwatching at Rabindra Sarovar

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The erstwhile Dhakuri lake is an artificial tank spread over 75 acres and is home to various migratory birds from Siberia and Russia. The lake is surrounded by gardens, children's park an auditorium, making it a popular recreational spot perfect for idyllic picnics. You can also carry your binoculars to spot the exotic birds while you are out there picnicking. If you are a wanderer or a nature lover, visiting this place should definitely be there on your list of top things to do in Kolkata.

25. Art Tour at the Marble Palace Mansion

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The Marble palace near the Chorbagan in North Kolkata built in 1835 by Rajendra Mallick is famed for its art collection of masterpieces by Reuben and paintings by various renowned international artists such as Reynolds, Van Gogh and Rembrandt. The Palace also boasts of a Zoo with different rare birds and animals. Along with several other myriad things to do in Kolkata, you should try this one too, especially if you are an art connoisseur.

26. Soak in the Sun in Tajpur

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One of the most secluded beaches of the country and one of the newest entrant in the tourism scene of West Bengal, Tajpur is slowly carving out a niche for itself as the stopover destination between the two major centers Digha and Shankarpur. The red crabs that are found here in plenty and the gentle breeze that lulls idle strolls by the sea make Tajpur a perfect place getaway. One of the most sequestered stretches of sands, this beach, has seclusion only adding to its aura, leaving its visitors spellbound by its freshness, its vastness and the beauty of the sea. This is definitely one of the best things to do in Kolkata.

27. Relax and Unwind at Botanical Gardens

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The Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden, better known as the Botanical Garden, is a sprawling garden spanning a total area of 273 acres that is located in Shibpur, Howrah, near Kolkata. The gardens were established in the year 1787 and were commonly known as the Company Garden in that time. Today, the vibrant garden is considered to be one of the most stunning landscaped gardens in the entire country with undulating land topography and astonishing artificial lakes. It is a pure delight for nature lovers to visit this area and to spend some quiet and peaceful time in the lap of nature at the gardens and visiting here is one of the topmost things to do in Kolkata.

28. Take a Walk Down the Hooghly Riverfront

The very picturesque Hooghly Riverfront is situated along two banks of River Hooghly in West Bengal- Kolkata in the East and Howrah on the West. The mighty river offers mesmerising sunrise and sunset views. After the beautification of the East promenade in 2011, the spot has become a major tourist attraction. Talking a walk down the Riverfront is one of the topmost activities here and you should definitely put it under your list of top things to do in Kolkata.

29. Religious Retreat at Calcutta Jain Temple

Pareshnath Jain Temple is a temple complex dedicated to four Jain Teerthankaras. The complex is a beautiful arrangement of these shrines and draws tourists from all over the world. The architecture of the temples consists of intricately carved marbles and glass work and is indeed one of the few temples that have a charismatic vibe. The complex expands over a vast piece of land and is mostly visited by followers of Jainism. The temple complex also houses extremely well-maintained gardens and fountains. Many visitors claim it is not just a religious retreat but also a recreational one because of its architecture.

30. Visit the Mother House

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Mother House or Missionaries of Charity is a religious congregation that was established by Mother Teresa in 1950. It is a Latin Church or a Roman Catholic religious congregation known as Saint Teresa of Kolkata. The members of the Mother House provide free services to the ones stricken by poverty. An area of the house is reserved for followers to pay their respect to Mother Teresa. Here, one can find Mother Teresa's Tomb and an exhibition that displays her work through photographs, awards and articles. Some of her belongings like her sarees, her sandals and her bag are also displayed. Visiting the Mother House is one of the topmost things to do in Kolkata.

31. Visit Jorasanko Thakur Bari

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The Bengali name for the House of the Thakurs, the Jorasanko Thakur Bari is the ancestral home of the Tagore family that is located in Jorasanko, in the north of Kolkata in West Bengal in India. This is an enjoyable and exciting place to visit, especially for lovers of history and Bengali literature. The 700 paintings that are exhibited in this ancestral home especially capture the attention of the visitors. What enthrals them, even more, is the self-composed invite of Rabindranath Tagore's wedding. The museum also houses three different galleries, manuscripts, books and other antique items. 

32. Offbeat Tour to Deulti

Situated on the bank of river Roopnarayan, Deulti provides for an ideal picnic spot. This small village picnic destination is also accompanied by a handful of tourist attractions, like Samtaber, the hometown of renowned Bengali author Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay and the temples of Madangopal and Radha, adorned with embellishments of Terracotta art. If you are a bird lover, keep an eye (read ear) for the chirps of different birds, while you take a walk on the clay paths of the villages.

This post was published by Aqsa Aleem

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