Kolkata, the City of joy does live up to its reputation in every way. Not so long ago, we had published an article on the Forgotten Past Of The City of Joy that talked about the various historical places in Kolkata. The article was then followed by another article on 10 Popular Places of Worship In the City of Joy. This amazing city has more to offer! In our third part, we will take you on a boat ride around the ghats (river bank) of this city. Then we will explore the famous markets to shop in Kolkata . Even if you are not the shopping-type, the markets in this part of the world are a great way to observe local culture and experience the heartbeat of the city. All this excitement is sure to make you hungry, so we will end the series with an insight to the famous street food culture in Kolkata! With this last one we have covered all things to do in Kolkata....and it took three part series to cover it all and we loved every bit of it!
Lap up the waves
Lal Dighi, previously known as Tank Square is located at the heart of BBD Bagh area. Sabarna Roy Choudhary , who was the Zamindar of Kolkata in 17th century had a court house near the dighi. "Lal Dighi" was so named because of the red color its waters acquired during Holi festival. British East India Company took the Dighi on lease from Roy Choudhary family in 1709 and redeveloped it into a fresh water reservoir for the people of Kolkata. In 1770, Lal dighi was dug further up to 25 acres of ground. Today it is one of the most peaceful places in contrast to the surrounding areas that swarm with hustle and bustle of a large Metropolitan city. In afternoon you will find office goers relaxing or hanging out with their colleagues on a cup of tea here.
How to reach
It is located in BBD Bag area, just behind the BBD Bag bus stand. It is a major bus terminus of Kolkata. Nearest metro station is Central Avenue.
Princep Ghat is the oldest recreational spot of Kolkata after Town Hall. It was built in 1841 in the memory of Anglo-Indian Scholar, James Princep. The monument dedicated to James Princep was built in Greek style and it stands right under the shadow of Vidyasagar Setu (Another landmark of Kolkata, a flyover on River Hoogly). This is a popular picnic spot especially during winter season. In the evening, people visit this beautiful little hangout with their friends. It is also quite popular with couples. One can go boating to the river, walk along the serene banks and enjoy food from the stalls here. Several Bollywood movies have been shot at this very location.
How to reach
It is located in the western part of the city where there is currently no metro connectivity, so you have to hire a cab or bus from your location to Princep Ghat. Another way to reach Princep Ghat is by circular railway which runs from Majerhat to Chitpur.
Baboo ghat was named after Baboo Raj Chandra Das , husband of Rani Rasmoni who was the founder of Dakshineswar kali temple. This is the busiest Ghat (bank) of Kolkata presumably because of the religious activities during various Hindu festivals and also because of being the second largest Inter-state bus terminus of Kolkata. Baboo Ghat will instantly remind you of Varanasi because of the stairs and pavilion. Just like Varanasi it is common to see throngs of priests , Sadhus and devotees spending time on the Ghat here . This place is a favourite amongst street and documentary photographers particularly during Chatt and Durga puja (when the idol immersion takes place on these ghats).
How to reach
It is located in line with Princep Ghat , probably just 1-2 kms away from the latter. You can take circular railway which runs from Majerhat to Chitpur or bus to Baboo ghat bus stop.
Places to Shop in Kolkata
Mallick Ghat Flower Market
Mallick ghat is located just below the Rabindra setu (Howrah bridge), built by Ram Mohon Mallick in the year 1855. Mallick ghat is the home to the largest wholesale flower market of Eastern India. Flower sellers from all over the city come here to sell different kinds of flowers like Marigold, Roses, Hibiscus, Jasmine etc. Many local flower sellers buys flowers from this place at wholesale rate to sell them in local markets in various localities. It is one of the favorite destinations for photographers. And taking a stroll in this market is an experience that soothes your senses and delights your eyes.
How to Reach
It is located just below the Howrah Bridge. The entry to the market lies on the left side of Strand road while driving towards the bridge.
The reason I am adding this rather customary place is because of the social connection it had and still has with Bengali delicacies. There is a saying in Bengal, "mache bhate bangali" which figuratively means, "Bengalis are nothing without fish and rice". Well honestly it is indeed true and Manicktala bazar is the oldest and largest fish market of Kolkata. It has served for many years both for the producers and consumers that it is not a regular fish market any more. It is a melting pot of Bengali values and customs of regular lifestyle. Try to visit this place during monsoon season as you will be overwhelmed to see so many different kinds of fishes like Hilsa , Prawns , Katla , Koi , Morola , Sor puti , etc.
Let me tell you an interesting bed time story for the kids that talks of ghosts during early 20th century in the shortcut streets connecting Manicktala bazar and Jorashankho area, who used to scare people returning to their houses via shortcuts at night after buying fishes from Manicktala bazaar!
How To Reach
It is located in Manicktala area of North Kolkata. Nearest metro station is Girish Park and try to take a rickshaw from metro station to bazar. Direct bus also plies to Manicktala Bus stop.
Kolkata has always been a magnificent destination for shoppers thanks to the "nothing is enough" attitude of Kolkatians. This very market has a short history attached to it. In 19th century, with growing European population there was an increasing demand of a shopping area with European specific goods. Apparently in 1873, New market was built in Victorian gothic style to fulfill the needs of the people. Some early shops of New market were Ranken and co (dress maker) , Cuthbersten and harper (shoe-merchant) , R.W. Newman (stationer and book dealor) and Nahoums confectionary (cakes and chocolate shop). Despite suffering two devastating fires , today New market has more than 2000 stalls under its roof and offers an enchanting shopping experience in Kolkata.
How to Reach
It is located in lindsay street between Esplanade and Park street , very well known place . Nearest metro station is Esplanade and so is the name of the nearest bus stop.
Also known as the "boi para"of Kolkata, it is a long street of 1.5 km encroached with book stalls on both side of the street up to Mahatma Gandhi Road. It was so named because of the presence of some oldest colleges of Kolkata and several publication houses. There is hardly any academic book that you will not get here- science, commerce, arts, law, medical, engineering, economics, philosophy and what not! During week days you will find how busy a street this is because of student ‘invasion’ from all over the state. If you want to shop for books but without burning a hole in your pocket then College street in Kolkata is the address you should head to.
How to Reach
Nearest metro station is MG Road. This street has a very odd bus route so try to avoid bus.
Kolkata is a city where one will find almost every kind of cuisine and that too at rates that are much cheaper than other metro cities of India. Kolkata street food is uniquely attractive because of the amalgamation of various other Indian state dishes with Bengali delicacies. Why don't you try out the below mentioned places to eat at Kolkata?
It is a small restaurant located in Shyambazar which is very famous for its delicious Parantha (an Indian Bread) and mutton curry. The creamy and rich curry will blow your mind and tingle your taste buds if you enjoy your non-vegetarian delicacies.
2) Bhojohori Manna
This is a "All Bengali" restaurant with branches all over the city but the main one is in Hazra road. When you are in Kolkata don't miss out mouth watering Bengali cuisine which is mostly based on various fish dishes and unique preparation of certain vegetables. Try their "Doi mach" (Curd Fish) , "Ilish mach bhape" (Best Hilsa fish dish on this earth) , "Chingri macher pataudi" (A delicious prawn dish) , " Macher matha diye dal" (A unique preparation of Fish head and pulses) , "Potoler dorma" (This vegetable is called Trichosanthes dioica in English). It is basically your one pit stop for authentic Bengali food.
3) Kathi Roll
It is a small street stall in Park street near The Park hotel. They make as many as 13 different kinds of Roll/wraps their best one being Egg Chicken Roll. A Roll is a parantha which is stuffed and then rolled to contain the stuffing. They are known for their extra large size and drool-worthy stuffing. Oh and may we add for our vegetarian readers- do not be disheartened they serve mouth watering Vegetarian rolls too!
4) Outside New Market or Vardhan Market
There are as many as 50 "Chat Masala" stalls outside New market to ‘food trap’ the shoppers out there with zingy Indian chats like Panipuri , Ghoogni , Alu chat, Papri chat , Phuchka , Dahi chat , Tikia chat and well the list goes on. Well you will get these stalls almost anywhere around in Kolkata streets but outside Vardhan market and New market, they are the best in the city.
5) Aminia Biryani
I know there are many people who have a soft corner for Biryani. If you are one of them then do try spending one afternoon in Aminia restaurant. There are many branches of Aminia in various part of the city viz. in Ballygunj , S N Banerjee road , Zakaria Street , Chandni chowkand here too the list goes on. Their fierce competitor is Arsalan restaurant which is also equally popular in the city.
6) Exide Momo
They are a group of few street stalls located right on the street of Exide just behind Rabindra Sadan metro Station. While, there are many places in Kolkata that serve good Momos but they are one of the oldest and really popular amongst the momo lovers here.
7) Sweets and delicacies of Bengal
How can you miss them when you are in Kolkata? Bengal is known for their delectable sweet recipes and milk products. Even the Europeans were so fond of them that they altered certain cakes and pudding recipes to fit in Bengali essence in 19th century. Among all other sweet shops of Kolkata the famous ones are- Sen Mahassay , Bhim nag , Ballaram Mallick & Radharam Mallick , K C Das sweets , Mouchak , Dwarik and Girish Chandra Dey and Nakur Chandra Nandy. Of course Rasgulla is what most of the people associate with Bengal but the spread of sweets here is much much bigger! While here don't miss "Misti Doi" , "Sponge Rasgulla" , "Nolen Gurer Sandesh" , " Kalakand" , "Jolbhora" , "Rasmalai" and " Langcha". There are numerous varieties of Sandesh that you can dig into. We also want to add a savoury dish here- Radha Ballobi and Aloo dum!
8) Nahoum's Cake
This is one of the oldest confectionary in the city built by Jewish community in the 19th century. Their fruit cakes and plum cakes are the best in the state as far as my opinion is concerned. There was a time when every family of Kolkata used to buy birthday cakes and Christmas cakes from this shop.
9) Tiretti Bazar
It is located in Central Avenue , the area belongs to existing Chinese community of Kolkata. You have to visit this place in the morning between 6am to 9am to experience unique but delicious authentic Chinese breakfast.
10) Dalhousie Lunch Stalls
Dalhousie area is called "office para" because it has always had a large number of offices. And with that came the lunch stalls for employees who have their lunches at a much cheaper rate around here. Try to visit them during lunch time and take your camera with you to capture the "hustle for food". BTW…the food is also highly recommended and you get to eat it after winning the HUSTLE!
Our heartfelt thanks to Inderjit Lal of serialglobetrotter.wordpress.com for giving us this amazing series on this beautiful city! Before we say, here are some words from our contributor.
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 - serialglobetrotter.wordpress.com