Kolkata India - Holiday Guide - Travel & Tourism Guide to Calcatta
Formally Calcutta, and warmly known as the City of Joy, the Kolkata metropolitan area encases over 15 million people making it the second largest city of India. It is also known as the cultural and intellectual capital, home to many cultural festivals while it is a main commercial hub of eastern India, even housing the Calcutta Stock Exchange. It is a diverse area with a large portion covered by 'slums' while developments are slowely building with new suburbs making it a place of stark contrasts, one many tourists travel many miles to experience.
Poverty seems to seep into any Kolkata experience and can be hard to ignore a lot of the time. Families living on streets, sleeping on footpaths, all while people walk on by around them represents the abject mix of poverty observable in everyday life in this city. Most say that you will either love it or hate it, however loving it and hating it at the same time is a more accurate explanation, but either way you won’t forget it.
Despite the poverty, Kolkata is a true cultural delight with several festivals colouring the city’s calendar. Many spend months in the lead up to a festival crafting sculptures out of bamboo and paper mache, creating religious ornaments. On these occasions, music and colour are the main observable features that provide a great opportunity for tourists to observe while soaking in the culture of the city. Pamper your taste buds with local foods and discover the religious fervour eminent at such a congregation.
The best time to visit is between October and March when the weather has cooled (temperatures can reach 41°C in the summer) and the monsoon season has ended.
Note that the most popular languages spoken in Kolkata are Bengali and Hindi, with a few English speaking locals.
Getting around in this large city can be quite challanging even though Kolkata has a comprehensive transport system with a mix of rickshaws to the more modern Metro railway. The streets can be quite hard to navigate, most without signs, but if you say "metro" or a landmark common to the area, asking can turn out to be quite helpful as you will likely be pointed in the right direction - though it is recommended to ask a few people just to make sure. It is useful to acquire a map to track the bus and tram routes and always be vigilant about having your pockets picked.
Make sure you stay long enough to enjoy the many sights and various markets around the city. Take in the delightful colours that emit from the Malik Ghat Flower Market and tingle your taste buds with the palatable Bangali sweets (a distinguished taste).
Kolkata has a lot to offer, whether you are after a cultural, meditative, or adventure holiday you are after, you’ll find this Indian city more than satisfies.