1. Walk through the Gorer Math
Gorer Math, or the Maidan, symbolizes two very contrary passions of us- the Bengalis. Dotted with over 75 sports clubs, small and big, it beautifully reflects Bengal’s madness about sports. On the other hand, the Maidan is synonymous with our carefree spirit mixed with oodles of ‘lyadh’.
It’s the perfect place to sit down and watch the sun setting into the Calcutta skyline, the place to get out of your shoes and walk through the dewy grass barefoot, it is the place to provide the small parcel of much needed calm amidst the big, bad city.
Throw in the Tanga ride and the light and sound fountain shows in the evening, and you are all set to have a great day.
Trivia : Maidan, in its total area, is bigger than the Hyde Park.
- Boat ride on the Ganges
Calcutta, as photographers all over Facebook would want us to believe, is all about the boat ride on the Ganges. Though I vehemently disagree to such an image, I cannot help but accept that it is one of the most beautiful things in the city too.
With the two giant bridges on either side, and the open sky above, it’s a true treat.
- Party at Park Street
The original food street of the city, Park Street is still the most ‘happening place’ in town.
No visit to Kolkata is complete without a visit to Park Street.
Let your hair down and dance through the night at Roxy; grab a beer, and catch the budding city bands belting out covers and originals alike at Someplace Else, or head over to the legendary Peter Cat or Mocambo restaurants and bring the party inside your mouth.
- Authentic ‘Bangali Khabar’ at Kasturi :
The best Bengali fare is available here. Period.
Tip: I personally prefer their original outlet at Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Road.
- New Market
If Delhi has Sarojini, and Mumbai has Colaba Causeway, we have our very own New Market. Exotic flowers, century old Chinese shoemaker shops, rustic bakeries, reams and reams of clothes- silk, cotton, chikan, chiffon, and the likes, the cooking ingredients which no one else in the city stocks, the best cold cuts, the party accessories, and everything else one can think of- its all there.
My personal favourite are the silver jewelry shops, with their overflowing variety of designs.
After all the haggling and shopping, one can sip on a drink atop the Lindsay Hotel at Blue and Beyond, or grab a roll from Nizam’s, or dig into a hearty plate of biriyani at Aminia!
It would be insulting for any true blue South Kolkatan if our very own Gariahat is left out of this list. The saree hub of the city, it also boasts of a splendid flea market. Its local fish market too, is something that we take for granted, but is awe evoking for many.
Sit under the flyover, with a ‘bhanr’ of steaming cha (lebu/ kalo/ doodh/ chhoto/ boro- whatever), and a thonga of daaler bora, and see the world pass by.
The local hawkers playing carrom, or the middle aged men playing chess after office, under the street lights, will keep you company.
- Planetarium, Victoria Memorial, Indian Museum
These are the three things which will surely be on any travel guide’s list of Kolkata.
The Birla Planetarium is the largest planetarium in Asia, while the Indian Museum is the largest museum in the country.
Don’t forget to check out the the Egyptian Mummy and the skeletons of now extinct animals on display here.
The changing colors of the Victoria Memorial in the evenings is a treat too!
Tip: Weekday afternoons will be the best time to browse through these places.
- The Touristy Three
Catch a drama at the Academy of Fine Arts, stroll around the Nandan– Kolkata’s multiplex since before multiplexes became so popular, and if you are not too unlucky, a film festival might be on too.
Sitting around in this area, sipping on ‘lebu cha’ and puffing on a cigarette, you will get the required dose of ‘aantel watching’.
No matter how clichéd it may sound, ‘rosogolla’ and ‘mishti doi’ rule the world, err…atleast Kolkata. They are the divine power which make us, the Bengalis, so sweet a clan. Add Nalen Gurer sandesh and you have the Holy Trinity of Sweet Haven.
Tip: for modern fusion mishti, try Balaram Mallick or Nalin Chandra Das for chocolate sweets.
- Street food
Tele-bhaja (literal translation: oil fried) with muri (puffed rice) is the original bong snack.
Telebhaja can be any vegetable, thinly cut/sliced- doused in gram flour paste and deep fried. Occasionally the veggies can be replaced by egg or ‘lotey machh’.
Then we have our ‘Kabiraji’ cutlets, fish fries, Phuchka, Kathi rolls and Moghlai Porota too. Now we are Phuchka snobs. No Panipuri of Delhi, or Golgappa of Mumbai or Gupchup of Odisha can even come close to our Phuchka.
Tip: Visit the Indian Coffee House to be transported to the Kolkata fast food scene of yesteryears. Located in College Street, the world’s largest second hand book market, this place is a true bite of the old and charming Calcutta.
- The Phau (the freebie)
Talk to the people of Kolkata, catch them lamenting about the ‘gorment policies’ , or lack of culture in today’s generation/non-Bongs, or join the debate about what should be Dhoni’s strategy, or if there’s any worth in the new breed of Bengali directors.
Tip: Best time and place to catch them: At 6pm (office closing time) on a weekday at Dalhousie Square (city’s old office square) or any semi crowded bus at any time of the day.
Devpurna, to quote her own words, is a ”Lawyer by day, the quintessential bengali dreamer by night, a foodie since toddler days and oh, an up-cycler on weekends too!
For her other stories on Blong…Shong, Click Here
Her other Blogs include Bite.Chomp.Gulp