Forgotten Past of the City of Joy

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From being the first capital of British India and the fountainhead of Bengali renaissance to the epicentre of Indian communism, Kolkata has been compelled to transform its look and customs more than any other city in this world. But every mood and phase of this gorgeous city has been well preserved in form of edifice from the bygone era or human habits that are typically Bengali! Captivating Victoria Memorial and classy Howrah Bridge are not the only spots in this city to set your eyes on, there are many other places that deserve equal share of attention if not more. Belonging and living here has given me an opportunity to peek and capture every nook and corner of this vibrant city. So here we go, are you ready for the tour? 


Victoria Memorial

This stupendous white marble work has held its top rank in the list of all tourist places of Kolkata with firm grip over the years. It was built in the year 1921, in commemoration of Queen Victoria (1809 - 1901). The construction was started in 1901 under supervision of George Curzon , then the viceroy of India. The architecture is in the which uses a mixture of British and Mughal elements as well as Egyptian, Venetian, Deccani and Islamic architectural influences.  This building is 338 by 228 feet and rises to a height of 184 feet. It is constructed of white Makrana marble which was also used by Shah Jahan to build the Taj Mahal. The garden outside the memorial hall is also famously referred to as “lover's point” of Kolkata.

How to Reach

You can hire a cab. If you dig adventure and local experience -hop on to public bus and get down at Rabindra Sadan Bus stop. Alternatively you can opt for a full day Kolkata tour and Victoria Memorial is one of the places covered in it.


Birla Planetarium

This is a very popular tourist spot of Kolkata next to Victoria Memorial. It was inaugurated by the Prime minister of India on 2nd July 1963 and happens to be the largest planetarium in Asia and second largest in the world. It has a large astronomy gallery with models, paintings and documentation of celestial bodies along with research works of renowned astronomers. The Planetarium also has an astronomical observatory equipped with a Celestron C-14 Telescope with highly developed camera and solar filter. Programs on movement of heavenly bodies in space are conducted between 12pm to 7pm. It is common to see this place being thronged by school students from various schools of Kolkata.

How to Reach

It is located right beside St. Pauls Cathedral in the vicinity of Victoria Memorial.


National Library

If you are a "Book-fanatic" then this is definitely the place for you. National Library is the largest library in India by volume and public records. Apart from 2,270,000 books written in many different languages, it contains many political manifestoes, diaries of Indian and British pioneers, historical scripts in primitive Indo-European languages , 86000 maps , scientific journals and public forbidden archaeological data. National Library was previously known as Calcutta Public Library and Imperial Library, former was restricted to superior government officials. It was Lord Curzon who combined the two different libraries into the single public Imperial Library in Metcalfe Hall, Kolkata. After Independence, the name and location of the Imperial Library was changed to National Library which is located at Belvedere road, Alipur.

However friends, National Library also holds the reputation of being the most haunted place of Kolkata. It is said that the footsteps of Governor’s wife can still be heard and many years back a student from England died in an unnatural accident while searching for some books. In the year 2010, ASI discovered a secret chamber of 1000 sq ft in the ground floor without any trap doors or windows. It was concluded that this chamber was a punishment room like the kind found in many old British castles of UK. Another theory is that it might have been a place for storing treasures. That reminds of Harry Potter and the Chamber of secrets doesn’t it?

Read: Spook Fest: The Most Haunted Destinations in the World

How to Reach

National Library is located in Alipur , just opposite to Alipur Zoological Garden which is a landmark. You can take a bus to the Zoo Bus stop.


Birla Industrial and Technological Museum

BITM is the first scientific and Industrial museum of India. The property on which it was built belonged to Tagore family. G D Birla bought it from the Tagores in 1919 and named it Birla Park. In 1956 , Dr. B C Roy , then CM of West Bengal and Shri G D Birla together shared a thought with Jawaharlal Nehru of building a Science and Industrial Museum. It took 3 years to build the entire structure with galleries , models and animations. It was opened to public on 2nd May, 1959. The mock up underground coal mine is the most popular attraction till date.

How to Reach

It is located on Gurusaday Dutta roadnear Birla Mandir. If you are taking bus, then you need to get down at Ballygunj Birla Mandir Bus stop.


Marble Palace

Marble Palace is an illustrious mansion built in 1835 by a famous Bengali Merchant, Raja Rajendra Mallick , who was known for his love for artefacts and culture. The palace is built in neoclassical style which is an epitome of Bengali tradition. Along with the palace there are gardens, lawns and a Jagannath temple. Today the descendants of Mullick family live in the palace while the art galleries and models are open to public. There are many paintings of famous European and Indian artists and 19th century theme sculptures, ceiling mirror , urns and royal utensils. The last part of the famous French novel "Le vol des cegognes" was shot here. It remains open from 10am to 4pm .

How to Reach

It is located on Muktaram Babu Street which connects CR Avenue road and Rabindra Sarani. Nearest metro station is Mahatma Gandhi road.


Botanical Garden

Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanical Garden is located in Shibpur which is 30 minutes bus route from Kolkata city. It was built by Robert Kyd , an officer of British Empire for the purpose of cultivating new plants of commercial value such as teak and various spices. A British botanist, William Roxburgh transformed this place into an extensive herbarium. The most attractive tree is the "Great Banyan Tree" which is 250 years old and has 3511 prop roots, spreading over 1.5 hectares! The circumference of the tree is 450 metres and the highest branch goes up to 24.5 metres.

How to Reach

You have to take a bus from Esplanade, Kolkata to Shibpur and get down at Botanical Gardens bus stop.


Town Hall

Kolkata Town Hall was built in Doric style for social gatherings of European people during British rule. It was designed by architect John Garstin in the year 1813. It has served the purpose of business meetings, governmental gatherings and parties for nearly 100 years up to 1914. It had a art gallery in the ground floor, a library and large banquet for official parties and ceremonies. However, after 1947 the beautiful architectural specimen suffered neglect at the hands of state government. In 1998 Architectural Survey of India intervened and saved it from further destruction.

How to Reach

It is located in Bangur Avenue, VIP road and the area is called Lake Town. It is far away from metro route so bus or taxi is convenient mode of travel.


Shahid Minar

It is a very well known Heritage structure of Kolkata, constructed in the year 1828 in memory of Sir David Ochterlony. He was commander-in-chief of British Empire who successfully defended Delhi against Marathas in 1809. This was followed by his victory against Gurkhas in Anglo-Nepalese war. In August 1969, it was rededicated to the memory of the martyrs of the Indian freedom movement and hence renamed the "Shahid Minar," which means "martyrs monument" in both Bengali and Hindi as a tribute to India’s Independence movement.

How to Reach

If bus is what you are taking, then get down at Belerghata bus stop.


Metcalfe Hall

Metcalfe Hall is a vintage specimen of Britsh Imperial Architecture of modern era. The building lies very close to river Hooghly on the western side. It is built upon strong base and 30 Corinthian pillars which gives it a unique Grecian grace. It has 5 large halls in both the floors. Many books were transferred from this building to National library in 20th century. Presently there is a small Art museum of Asiatic society in the ground floor while the first floor houses exhibition gallery and office of ASI.

How to Reach

It is located on the intersection of Hare street and Strand road. You can take bus to Belerghata Bus stop.


South Park Street Cemetrey

Park street was previously called "Burial Ground Road" because of South Park Street Cemetery. This is one of the earliest non-church cemeteries in the world. It was opened in 1767 and was in use until 1830 though the plaque at the gate confirms it to be in use only until 1790. The architecture of the premises is Gothic and Indo-Saracenic style and it is needless to say that in a busy area. But ones you cross over from the road and enter the gates of this place, you will find yourself transported to land of quiet and mystery. It has a total of 1600 graves of British employees, officers and pioneers of 18th century. We must mention the Dennison monument here which is also called "Bleeding grave". Why? It is said that a red fluid oozes out of this grave sometimes. Spooky?!

How to Reach

It is located on the intersection of AJC Bose road and Park Street. Nearest Bus Stop is AJC Bose Road.


Lower Circular Road Cemetery

It is located just few yards away from South Park Street Cemetery on AJC Bose road. It was opened in 1840 after South Park Street Cemetery had no space left to hold more tombstones. The premises of Lower circular road cemetery are huge and largest of all cemeteries of Kolkata. There are around 12000 graves including that of notable military General Sir William Casement , Henry Whitelock torrens and Bengali literary scholar Michael Madhusudhan Dutta.

How to Reach

It is located on AJC Bose road, just opposite to Institute of Neurosciences which is a very renowned medical research centre. Nearest Bus Stop is AJC Bose Road.



Baghbazar is the oldest part of Kolkata that had strongly witnessed Bengali renaissance during 19th century. This is a small town in the Northern most part Kolkata where Bengali culture has been wilfully guarded over the century. If you are coming to Kolkata to experience Bengali culture then BaghBazar is one place you must visit.

Baghbazar along with its sister towns , Shyambazar and Shovabazar is still way behind other parts of the city in multiculturalism. There are several places to see in this little town like Girish Bhavan which is home of Bengali drama king Girish Chandra Ghos . Do witness Ganga aarti in Baghbazar ghat. Make way to Maayer ghat , where Holy Mother Sharada lived in her last days and Basubati , the old massive palace in Nandalal Bose lane.

How to Reach

One can take metro to shyambazar then an autorickshaw to Baghbazar. Buses do ply here but the route is very complicated and tedious.


Jorasankho Thakurbari

Famous Bengali poet, author, musician, artist , novelist and first Non-European Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore was born here. It was built in 18th century on a land donated by the famous Sett family of Kolkata to Dwarkanath Tagore who grandfather of Rabindranath Tagore. Tagore family was one of the richest and respected families of Kolkata back in the days of British Empire. Today the house is campus of Rabindra Bharati University which was founded by Rabindranath Tagore. A part of the house has been converted to Rabindra Bharati museum which holds a large collection of historical records pertaining to Tagore family and the biography of Rabindranath Tagore. It has been beautifully transformed into art gallery and bears innumerable wall inscriptions. Best time to visit this place is on Bengali New year or Rabindranth Tagore's Birthday.

How to Reach

It is located in Jorashankho, a suburb in North Kolkata. It is a very well known place and a 2 min walking distance from Girish Park metro. If you are taking bus, get down at Jorasankho bus stop.



Many years back, British divided North Kolkata into several areas, each area was meant for people of certain specific profession. For example - "Kumartuli" was for the potters, "Chutarpara" was for the carpenters, "Collutala" was for the oilmen, "Muchipara" was for the cobblers and "Aheeritolla" for cow herders. Kumartuli is one of the oldest suburbs of Kolkata which has very well lived up to its name till date. Try to visit this place just 1-2 months (which means August till early October) before Durga Puja when many idol artists start their work with clay from river Hooghly and beautiful colours. The splendid art works are worth watching for hours. Many artists living in kumortuli are in this business for many generation and it clay work has become an integral part of their life.

How to Reach

It is located between Sovabazar and Baghbazar. While Kumartuli is the name of the area but clay artists can be mainly found in Banamali Sarkar Street.


A Word from the Man Himself!

This is Inderjit Lal from Kolkata , age 23 , professionally an engineer and deeply passionate about travelling and journalism . I love solving riddles and digging deeper into historical events. Owner of the blog -

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