It has just been five months since I have been a part of this city but there’s something about Kolkata that has always intrigued me, fascinated me, allured me and this special bondage of mine with this city gets very well established after reading the account that I am presenting before you about the city of Kolkata or better known as the ‘City of Joy’.
We are living in that era of science and technology when the world around us is changing at a rapid pace – just look around yourself – the city, the people, the lifestyle etc. everything has wit”knessed a massive change. Things are surely not the same as it is used to be decades back. Why to say about decades – even the things that you witnessed a second back may not remain the same in the next second. Those of you who would be reading this might be thinking as to what do I want to point to by making such references.
Well the point that I want to make is that though the world has moved really fast but this city of Kolkata still basks in its past glory barring a few patches here and there. Take a round around the city – the ancient relics of Victoria Memorial, the Esplanade, the Shahid Minar, Maidan, Park Street etc. have bravely stood the brunt of time and a ride on the horse carriage outside the Victoria memorial gives you an unforgettable impression of having a swing ride through the Imperial Times and nothing could be a more exhilarating experience than a ride on the tram (which has been in existence since the Imperial Raaj) from College Street to Esplanade on calm Saturday evenings with tunes of Aaj Jaane ki Zid Na Karo by Farida Khanum playing in the background. Jetty drives from Princep Ghat over the river Hooghly, shopping a variety of trinklets in Esplanade, trying your bargaining skills at New Market or Gariahat Market, playing in Maidan, riding in steamer from Babu Ghat to Howrah while catching a glimpse of the majestic Howrah Bridge, tasting kachauris and jhal muris, phuchkas from street side vendors, long metro rides from Tollygunge to Dum-Dum, the pushy rides in overloaded buses, the Christmas Eve celebrations at St. Pauls Cathedral , offerings at Kalighat, long city possessions during Durga pujo that brings the entire city to a halt are some of the unique experiences in a lifetime that only Kolkatta offers !
A city that has produced many eminent scholars to the likes of Nobel Prize winners Amartya Sen, Rabindranath Tagore, etc is a home to world renowned educational institutions like Jadavpur University, Presidency College , The Indian Statistical Institute and the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta. Besides being a great educational centre it has also earned the title of being the cultural capital of India. The Indian Museum (the largest Museum in the country) and the National Library (largest library in the country) are also special attractions of this place. They are a big major source of pleasure for the eyes. It is a place where as many as 13 different communities have come together, amalgamated and nurtured themselves together and grown happily with native Bengalis for decades. You can always catch a play or a musical performance at any one of the many theatres located in Kolkata , or just spend a calm-serene evening at Nandan, the city’s cultural hub.
Travellers from all across the globe come here especially to relish the world famous “raasugulas” and the exquisite cuisines of fish offered here .The city’s street food and chaats have posed a big threat to the big fast food outlets and chains, which have opened here a couple of years back .For past pacers coming from Noida, Delhi and Gurgaon, the city might just make them a bit sad for the city has just one mall – the South City Mall but Kolkata certainly continues to appeal and captivate culture- connoisseurs.
Apart from the places, the food and the culture, the friendly people out here are the major sources of attraction. The language used by the native people is as sweet as the people residing here- these people possess a special accent. They tend to curl their tongue while speaking hence producing a nascent sound “Aww”. Besides this they are very congenial, level –headed with a cool temperament, a bit lazy though but highly intelligent and kind-hearted. And above all these people have time to talk, to laugh and to discuss everything happening around. You need not know Bengali as people out here can converse in English and Hindi.
Kolkata is a very cheap city so travelling, lodging and eating expenses will be relatively cheaper, and primarily depend on your preferences. The ubiquitous buses, taxis and metros are the much preferred form of public transport.
You can visit Kolkata during anytime of the year but in my opinion the best period to visit Kolkata is from October to February, for during the other months the city gets extremely hot and humid.
Being a metro, Kolkata is well connected to the rest of India by railways (Howrah and Sealdah railway stations houses), roadways (The Grand Trunk Road) and The Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Dum Dum.
So the next time you plan your holidays, keep Kolkatta on the top of the list because it’s a place worth visiting once in a lifetime !