Thursday, February 21, 2019

How to Best Spend 5 Days in Kolkata and Around

Unending addas with countless cups of tea, a nice spread of multi-course meal, variety of sweets, Victoria Memorial, Maidan, Howrah, yellow black taxi, tram... these are a few things that come to mind when we think of Kolkata. Yes these are the highlights along with a lot more that this city offers. Jotting down a plan that will help you explore the city if you have a few days and want to get the essence of place. I feel experiencing Kolkata will be incomplete without a visit to Shantiniketan. So I have kept 2 days for that. Plan in such a way that you get 1 day in Shanti niketan on a Saturday. Shonbarer haat is something that I highly recommend.

DAY 1: Plan the first half of the day getting to know the surroundings. It will be fun talking to people around, having tea on road side stalls or just talking a walk to get the feel of the place. Go to Princep ghat post lunch. Located along the banks of the Hooghly, the ghat is surrounded by greenery and overlooks the Vidyasagar Setu. This is a place that distinctly depicts the city. Cool breeze, view of the Howard Bridge and the tranquil boat ride will make your evening.
You could take a drive on red road past Eden gardens and all India ride and go to Park Street for a late dinner.

DAY 2: Spend the day around Chowringhee, the swankiest promenade in town, lined with colonial-era buildings including the Indian Museum, the Chowringhee Mansions and the Asiatic Society, as well as markets, shops, movie theaters and restaurants.  You can take local bus/ tram ride as well.

 If you're interested in theater the academy of fine arts and Kala mandir you can check the schedule and attend a show. Or you can just go to Nandan and gorge on the fish fries and coffee. Your Kolkata visit will be incomplete without shopping at New Market.

DAY 3: Start your day at the MaidanKolkata's 400-hectare green lung, which boasts a race course, countless social and sports clubs, a cricket venue, several football stadia and the Victoria Memorial, a grand marble monument to imperial ambition completed in 1921 which now serves as a museum displaying Raj-era paintings and an excellent permanent exhibition on Kolkata.
Then visit Kalighat Kali Temple, Dakshineswar Kali Temple and Belur Math. You may also visit Nirmal Hriday, formerly Mother Teresa's Kalighat Home for the Dying.

DAY 4: Drive on highway through beautiful countryside to reach Shanti Niketan. Lunch on the way. Get fresh and visit Sonajhuri forest and Kopai River. Take a rikshaw ride to feel the cool breeze from green fields on your face and appreciate the unadulterated greenery around you.

Visit Shonbarer haat at Khoai that is a platform for local artisans to showcase their art works. The usual items include ethnic jewelry, showpieces, local artworks, garments and even local ethnic Bengali dishes like pithey and payesh. The Haat starts to gather from around 03:00 pm and ends at around 06:00 pm. End your day listening to the Baul singing to you a song on life.

DAY 5: The early mornings are really nice for village walks along the tribal villages and the Khoai region.  Spend the day roaming around Vishwa Bharti campus. Visit Uttarayan Complex to see the five houses of Tagore’s family set in beautiful olden days’ architecture styled and designed by him, the Rabindra Bhawan Meuseum and Upasana Griha.
Have a  relaxed evening looking at the dipping sun at Sonajhuri
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