Kolkata, which used to be called Calcutta until 2001, is the capital of India’s West Bengal state. It’s one of India’s most important and historic cities and is the main educational, cultural, and commercial city in East India. Although not the highlight for most travelers, there are plenty of places to visit in Kolkata to keep you busy.
Kolkata is also considered by many to be the cultural heart of the India and is the second largest city in India thanks to the number of artists, poets, and writers that have come from and lived in this city.
Despite the fact that today’s Kolkata is very modern, it is actually an ancient city. There is evidence that people have been living in the area for more than two millennia. However, recorded history in Kolkata didn’t start until 1690 when England’s East India Company arrived. This city has seen many changes and faced many adaptations over the years to become the popular, urban city that it is today.
Kolkata is a huge business and economic hub in India, but it’s still worth a visit. While Kolkata may not have as much to see and do as other Indian cities, it’s still worth spending a couple of days to experience this busy metropolis that is often considered to be the ‘London of India’.
Whether you are interested in history, culture, museums or nature, Kolkata has enough to see and do that will keep you busy for at least a couple of days.
Best Places to Visit in Kolkata, India
1. Victoria Memorial
Built in the memory of Queen Victoria, Victoria Memorial is one of the most popular places to visit in Kolkata. The building itself is made out of white marble and there are 21 gardens, 28000 artifacts, and nearly 4000 paintings on the property.
An impressive historical building in Kolkata, the Tagore’s House is the former residence of Rabindranath Tagore; a renowned Indian literary. It is now a museum and has a collection of photographs, paintings, and Tagore’s literary works.
3. Fort William
A colonial era building that has served multiple purposes throughout its time. Today it is home to the Eastern Command, but it was once a jail known as the ‘Black Hole of Calcutta’.
4. Howrah Bridge
The Howrah Bridge was built to connect Kolkata and Howrath. Its nicknamed as the ‘oldest but busiest place in Kolkata’.
5. Rabindra Sarovar
If you are looking for a quiet place to relax then Rabindra Sarovar is the place to go. This man-made lake is popular for joggers, walkers, or people just looking for a bit of peace and quiet and some beautiful scenery.
6. Birla Mandir
This famous Hindu temple was built by the famous Birla family. It’s a favourite place to visit in Kolkata thanks to its stunning architecture that combines both the traditional and contemporary.
7. Belur Math
Belur Math is a popular pilgrimage site in Kolkata. It’s the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission and known for its architecture that fuses Hindu, Islamic, and Christian motifs. It’s also a popular spot for locals to come and enjoy some tranquility.
The Marble Palace is definitely worth visiting because it is one of the best restored royal palaces in the whole country. The palace is home to a vast collection of statues, paintings, and more.
Need a cool place to play on a hot day? Then Aquatica is the place to go. It’s one of the biggest water parks in Eastern India and has plenty of pools, slides, and rides. A great spot for a family day.
10. St. Paul’s Cathedral
St. Paul’s Cathedral is the largest cathedral in the city of Kolkata. The beautiful gothic style architecture makes it a popular place to visit and photograph.
11. Kolkata Botanical Gardens
Another great spot to enjoy greenery and nature in Kolkata is the city’s botanical gardens. It’s spread over 273 acres and contains more than 12,000 species of plants and flowers.
12. Nakhoda Mosque
The larges mosque in Kolkata, Kakhoda Mosque is the most popular place or worship for Muslim citizens. Due to its size and beautiful architecture, it’s also a popular tourist attraction.
13. Prinsep Ghat
Built alongside the Hooghly River, the Prinsep Ghat is one of the city’s best known memorials. The architecture is a combination of Greek and gothic styles making it a unique looking building. It’s best visited in the evening when the setting sun lights up the building.
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One of the most visited places in Kolkata, Sunderbans is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it is part of the world’s largest delta. This delta is formed by the Ganges, Brahamputra, and Meghna. Sunderbans is best known for being the largest tiger reserve in the country.
15. Kalighat Kali Temple
In its present form, Kolkata’s Kalighat Kali temple is only about 200 years old but has been referred to in writings composed as far back as the 15th century. It’s a popular spot for locals to come for blessings, and a great place to visit in Kolkata.
16. Nicco Park
One of the oldest amusement parks in Kolkata, Nicco park remains a family favourite. Plenty of rides and activities for children that makes for a fun day out.
17. The Birla Planetarium
The Birla Planetarium is one of the one of three planetariums in India and the largest of its kind in the world. There are several programs offered here in a few different languages.
18. The Indian Museum
The building is architecturally beautiful, but the real treasures are inside. It’s the oldest and largest museum in India and suitable for visitors of all ages. The collections inside highlight cultural traditions around the country.
19. Dakshineswar Temple
Dedicated to the goddess Kali, the Dakshineswar Temple is considered to be an architectural masterpiece in Kolkata. It’s also considered to be one of the most holy places in the city and is a popular pilgrimage site.
20. Science City, Kolkata
The largest science centre in all of India can be found in Kolkata. There are a number of interactive and hands on exhibits throughout the different galleries. Definitely a cool place to visit with children.
21. Eden Gardens
The Eden Gardens is the largest cricket stadium in India and the second largest cricket stadium in the world. It was built in 1864 and is home to two cricket teams; the Bengal Cricket Team and the IPL franchise cricket team Kolkata Knight Riders. Eden gardens is, informally, known as ‘India’s Home of Cricket’ and is considered to be one of the most iconic cricket stadiums in the world.
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22. Mother House
Mother House is dedicated to Mother Teresa and where her tomb can be found. It’s maintained by missionaries and followers who continue to promote her legacy.
23. Birla Industrial & Technological Museum
The first scientific and industrial museum to open in India in 1958, the Birla Industrial & Technological Museum is still a popular place to visit in Kolkata today. The galleries and 3D shows put on here are the main highlights.
24. Shobhabazar Rajbari
Built by the royal family of Shobabazar, this is one of the grandest Bengali style houses that has ever been built. Shobhabazar Rajbari is also sometimes called Baag Ola Bari, which translates to ‘house of the lions.’
25. Alipore Zoo
The Alipore Zoo is a major attraction in Kalkuta. It’s been operating since 1876 and is best known for being the home of Adwaita, a tortoise who lived for more than 250 years before dying in 2006. Today you can find Indian elephants, white tigers, Bengal tigers, zebras, antelope, and more.
26. Eco Tourism Park
An urban park spanning over 475 acres of land. It’s the largest of its kind in India and was created to promote eco-tourism in the city of Kolkata. It’s a well maintained landscape that has become popular for family picnics, and outdoor activities.
27. Park Street
Park Street is known as the ‘street that never sleeps’ in Kolkata. There are tons of restaurants, pubs, and bars here making is a popular hangout spot. It’s especially popular during the holidays; Diwali, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, as the whole street is decorated with colourful lights.
28. ISKON Kolkata
One of the most popular temples in Kolkata, it’s not restricted to any specific religion but rather welcomes all who are interested in learning about the teachings of Lord Krishna. It’s a serene and calming place to visit.
29. Town hall
Kolkata’s town hall is a beautiful, historic structure and an important heritage building in India. The building dates back to the 1800s and had many different uses throughout the years but today is used for functions, seminars, lectures, and exhibitions There is also the Kolkata Museum which is located on the ground floor of the building.
30. Chintamoni Kar Bird Sanctuary
This famous bird sanctuary and garden is known for the numerous birds, flowers (especially orchids), and butterfly species that can be found within the park. The Chintamoni Kar Bird Sanctuary is open from 7am-5pm.
31. Central Park
A popular urban park in Kolkata, it’s a very scenic spot that is very popular with couples. A small pagoda on an island, rose garden, and butterfly garden are the main highlights here.
32. Academy of Fine Arts
The oldest fine arts society in India, the Academy of Fine Arts is known today for a few impressive paintings and it’s theatre. Kolkata’s annual theatre festival takes place here as well.
33. Millennium Park
A private park located along the shores of the Hooghly River. It’s the first phase of a beautification project for the area and, as of now, is comprised of manicured gardens and amusement rides for children.
34. Tollygunge Club
Established in the late 1800s, Tollygunge Club house (affectionately referred to as ‘Tolly’) is a sports club spread over 100 acres. There are a number of sporting facilities here raining from tennis to golf to swimming and even billiards. It’s also home to an impressive display of flora and fauna, some of which came from Australia or South America.
The largest urban park in Kolkata. There are a number of playgrounds, sport stadiums, statues, and architectural works on these grounds. It’s also commonly referred to as the Brigade Parade Ground. Maidan has been nicknamed “the lungs of Kolkata” because of all the green space.
36. Tipu Sultan Mosque
Another famous mosque in Kolkata is the Tipu Sultan Mosque. It was built in the early 1800s and is considered to be a relic of architectural and cultural importance in Kolkata. It’s very open and welcoming to visitors of all religions who are interested in visiting this stunning building.
37. Nehru’s Childrens Museum
A children’s museum that features four floors of galleries mostly made up of toys and dolls from not just India but around the world. Please note that this museum is closed on Monday and Tuesday.
38. Mother’s Wax Museum
Mother’s Wax Museum in Kolkata was established in 2014. It contains wax figures of famous people, both Indian and international. The museum is named ‘Mother’s’ after Mother Theresa.
39. Mullick Ght Flower Market
A busy local market offering a huge variety of flowers and garlands of all colours. Great place to photograph and get to experience a bit of the local daily routine. The market opens very early, 4am, so for the best selections you’ll want to visit early as well.
40. Saheed MinarFlickr Credit: Istiaque Reza
A tall, tower-like monument in Kolkata. It’s especially beautiful at night when illuminated. Visitors can climb the stairs to the top for a bird’s eye view of the city and surrounding area, however to do this you will need to get police permission ahead of time.
From museums and temples, to urban parks and theme parks, and stunning Indian palaces, visitors definitely have a good selections of places to visit in Kolkata. It’s not to everyone’s taste, but whether you end of loving it or not, a visit to Kolkata, the cultural heart of the country, is a must for anyone planning on visiting India.