Kolkata was formerly known as Calcutta, but about 20 years ago the spelling of the name was changed in order to reflect the traditional Bengali pronunciation. Kolkata the capital of the West Bengal state in India and was actually the capital of India for about 150 years.
Because of British colonialism, and it being the trading post for the East India Company, Kolkata has a checkered past that comes through in many different ways, including the stunning colonial buildings mixed into their traditional architecture.
Kolkata is such an interesting city in India to visit, and you’ll be surprised by the wide variety of things to see and do in this gorgeous place.
What to Do
The Indian Museum is a hugely important establishment in Kolkata and all over India, as it is the oldest museum in the country. It was created in the early 19th century, and there are some amazing, rare, and ancient and antique relics.
The Maidan is a public green space, the largest of its kind in Kolkata. Within this green space, you can of course relax and take in the city like a local, or check out the other wonderful sites in the parameters of the park! One of the most famous is the Victoria Memorial, a marble building that was built in honor of Queen Victoria, and it’s now also a museum that you can visit.
Though it sounds strange, one of the most beautiful places to visit in the city is a cemetery called the South Street Park Cemetery. All of the headstones are so interesting in a completely different style than traditional western graves and is actually one of the biggest cemeteries in the world that are not affiliated with a church.
The Kolkata New Market is definitely something you cannot miss out on. There are over 2,000 stores and stalls in the market, and you can really find anything from incredible street food to beautiful trinkets and house-ware and more.
Believe it or not, Kolkata has the largest Chinatown in all of India! In Old Chinatown, there are over 20,000 Chinese immigrants and there are many great shops and delicious restaurants.
Mallick Ghat Flower Market is another market you have to see in Kolkata. This outdoor market has an incredible number of brightly colored flowers and garlands that are so unique.
Street food is huge in Kolkata, and you cannot go without trying at least a few. One of the biggest treats is chhanar jilipi, a variation of a national treat called jalebi, which is basically a fried dough soaked in delicious syrup.
Telebhaja is another Kolkata classic that you will love. These deep-fried snacks usually have a vegetable, potato, or sometimes meat filling, similar to a pakora.
Kewpie’s Kitchen is definitely one sit-down restaurant you have to visit in Kolkata. There you will find traditional Bengali food from fish and meat to delicious vegetable dishes that will soothe your soul and excite your palette.