quaint alleys that lead to the idol-making hubs lined up with humble hand-pulled rickshaws and criss-crossing tram lines, here’s a glimpse of the kaleidoscopic avenues of the City of Joy, and how you can get there.
About the place: Located in north Kolkata, this place, termed as the potters’ hub, is home to thousands of potter families of Bengal. They not only supply clay idols of Hindu gods to pujas across the state, but even export idols abroad.
How to reach: Just about 4km from Howrah Station and about 10km from the airport, you can also reach here by the Metro rail. Get down at the Sovabazar Metro station.
About them: Kolkata is a brilliant mish-mash of modernity and old world charm. While on one hand it’s the first Indian city to have the Metro rail, it’s one of the few metropolitans of the world where hand-pulled rickshaws still ply, however only in North Kolkata, the old city.
For a ride: You’ll find them at all alleys and roads of the northern part of the city, and near all Metro stations from Dumdum to Central. Minimum fare: Rs. 10
About them: Spending hours plying to and fro different corners of the city in gently rattling trams is one of the favourite modes of ‘romance’ for every Kolkatan. Started in 1880, these vintage vehicles continue to connect major junctions of the city.
For a ride: For a guaranteed seat, you can board from the depots at Tollygunj, Esplanade, Kidderpore etc. 1st class fare: Rs. 4 and Rs. 5, 2nd class fare: Rs. 3.5 and Rs. 4.
About the place: Set against the Vidyasagar Setu (world’s sixth longest bridge) and located on the bank of the Ganges, this is one of the most romantic leisure spots of Kolkata. Named after Sir James Princep of the Asiatic Society, it used to be the embarkation point for royal British entourages.
How to reach: It’s about a 10-minute drive from the Howrah Station, 5km away. You can also take a breezy ferry ride from the station at just R4.
About the place: North Kolkata houses a host of palatial buildings of the royal families of Bengal. Currently, visitors are allowed to tour the famous Sovarajar Rajbari and the Jorasanko Thakur Bari, the house of Rabindranath Tagore, a university now.
How to reach: It’s only 3km away from the Howrah station. If you are opting for the Metro, you need to get down at Girish Park. It’s 12km from the airport.
Food and shopping
No trip can be complete without some shopping and local food. When in Kolkata, do not miss the bargain deals for garments, footwear and junk jewellery at New Market (near Esplanade Metro station). Visit Park Street - the restaurant hub of Kolkata for a good meal. Do not miss the lip-smacking street food - from kathi rolls to fritters and more - available at all corners of the city. Head to restos in Garia Haat for authentic Bengali food.
About 16 flights ply daily from from Indira Gandhi International airport, Delhi to Netaji Subhash Airport, Kolkata. More than 18 trains, including the Sealdah and the Howrah Rajdhani, and Duronto Express take about 17-18 hours to reach Kolkata from the New Delhi station. Peak season is September-January, when major festivals including Durga Puja, Kali Puja take place. Christmas is also celebrated in a grand way, hence, year end is a rush too.