Kolkata, situated at the banks of the river Ganges, boasts of mesmerising natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. Owing to its favourable geographical location, and its pivotal role in the dynamic historical past of the country, the city is replete with important wondrous sites one is tempted to visit to get a glimpse of the culture and beauty that resides within the heart of this century-old city. The city is favourite for photographers, and many travel to city, booking dayuse hotels or hotels by hourly basis, to explore the the picturesque locations all around Kolkata. Here are seven such locations you will want to visit once you are in Kolkata:
1. Rabindra Sarobar
Popular among the local youth as Dhakuria Lake, this is an artificial water body is located in South Kolkata. A paradise for bird watching enthusiasts, this place will offer you a glimpse of not only Cormorants and Egrets, but migratory birds like the Flycatcher and the Siberian Blue Robin. It is mostly occupied by young lovers and art students. Grab your binoculars and that camera and head off if not for the amazing biodiversity then for the picturesque sunsets you’ll get to experience besides this waterbody. And do not forget to have the delicious snacks you find on the way, the papdi chat and the ghotigorom.
2. College Street
The biggest book market of the city, it features widely on the itineraries of travellers, tourists, and scholars who want to catch the pulse of the city. Lined with books on either side of a street stretching about 900 metres in Central Kolkata, this iconic place houses almost all of the major publication houses like Dey’s, Rupa and others, side by side with small budget bookstores. Consider it a treasure hunt and search for a coveted edition no longer in print, or look through the dedications on multiple second-hand copies, to get that perfect one. After the hustle, grab a coffee at the legendary Coffee House or try a kochuri at Putiram’s.
3. Baghbazar Ghat
Well, so long for seeing Kolkata on wheels. You can never enjoy a riverside city wholly if you leave out the river itself. Ferry services in Kolkata have been running from 1975, and currently, you can board a launch from 8 in the morning to about 8:30 at night. It’s a very different experience altogether, traversing the waterways of this old city, but be careful to navigate through the mayhem of the daily crowd. The ferry services cost very cheap on the pocket and have designated stops on this side of the river, before crossing over to Howrah on the other side. Catch a glimpse of the Howrah Bridge at night, sparkling in all its majesty.
4. Victoria Memorial
Built between 1906 and 1921, this is a colonial enterprise which has now been converted into a museum. Located at Maidan, this majestic building with its white marble architecture and the surrounding verdant greens is flocked with people during the winter holidays. Be sure to notice the white marble alter its colour to a golden hue during sunset, as you sit in the shade of green trees. Also, check out the museum and gallery inside to get an understanding of how the city is embedded in the history of a colonial past.
5. Beth El Synagogue
Tucked away in a corner at Pollock Street, this is a hidden gem. Set up as early as in 1856, Beth el Synagogue literally means the House of God. A sacred worship place for the Jewish community, this is an architectural beauty. Although religious services have stopped, the exquisite interior replete with stained glass windows and chandeliers is something that you and your camera will cherish forever. Revel in the diverse cultural heritage of Kolkata, or simply the dance of the light through the stained glass in this serene and heavenly place,
6. Chintamoni Kar Bird Sanctuary
Located down South near Narendrapur, this was names after Chintamoni Kar, who tirelessly strived to get this garden the recognition of a sanctuary. Miles and miles of green bush and trees line this place which houses numerous species of birds. Another location which attracts bird watchers and ornithologists, this is still a hidden gem.
7. Park Street
There is a certain different beauty to a place like Park street, unlike most picturesque places, Park Street is beautiful because of the starking contrast of lavish restaurants and hotels in park street against the common man who regularly passes through the streets. You might be able to capture the occasional person staring at luxuries he wishes to indulge in, but can't, as they must go for their daily wagering to feed their family. On the lighter note, it is also home to few of the most beautiful cafes, restaurants, and hotels in Kolkata, not to mention all the British architecture still standing stall in the area with the occasional antique shops here and there. Park street also happens to be the place Christmas is most largely celebrated in the city, hence a perfect time for photographs to capture some beautiful clicks.
Located in North Kolkata, it is renowned all over the world for its sculpture. Flocked with photographers right before the auspicious Durga Pujo festival, this will give an experience a sort of “behind the scenes” experience for the five-day-long festival. Interact with the local potters who design and make idols for both home and abroad and witness the intricacies of their art at a proximity that will help you gauge the cultural, religious, and economic aspects of the biggest festival of the city.
These were few of the many picturesque in the city of joy, a city with a living soul, but not to forget there are picturesque locations in every city, even the smallest of ones. One must remember, beauty is subjective and there is is beauty everywhere, even during weekend getaways to the couple friendly hotels in Mumbai or couple friendly hotels in Delhi, one can find beauty if you find hard enough, as beauty lies in the eye of the beholder.