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With a nickname like “City of Furious, Creative Energy,” Kolkata makes no secret of what it’s about. Between the flashy graffiti splashed along the roadsides (and on some of the vehicles) and the grand Victorian mansions left over from the days of the Rajas, this megalopolis has done plenty to earn its reputation as one of India’s most interesting cities. Admire the views along the Hooghly River, grab a bite of sweet Bengali sandesh, and check out all the things to do in Kolkata as you get to know what makes it the cultural capital of India.
Located just north of downtown Kolkata, Bara Bazar’s name means “big market” and the area doesn’t disappoint. Makeshift stalls and wholesale shops line the roadways (and often spill into the streets), offering everything from spices to electronics, sharing the space with some of the city’s most elegant houses of worship that represent a half-dozen different religions.
Home to one of the most distinct neighborhoods in India, Tangra is host to Kolkata’s Chinatown and a collection of historic temples and restaurants. The area is famous for its signature blend of Bengali and Hakka Chinese cuisine, and you can still find some exquisite eateries that helped to create the city’s unique flavor.
The home of West Bengal’s burgeoning film industry, this section of southern Kolkata features a lively collection of movie and film studios around its upscale residential neighborhoods. There’s also a fair amount of green space, divided between lakeside parks and elite hangouts like the Royal Calcutta Golf Club.
Centuries of history as one of India’s most influential cities have left Kolkata with a phenomenal choice of attractions. You can admire the colossal, intricate architecture at the Parswanath Jain Temple or Dakshineswar Kali Temple, or explore the repository of history on display at the Indian Museum. The Victorian mansion of the Marble Palace and the immense Victoria Memorial Hall show off the wealth and grandeur of the colonial years, while the National Library of India is the largest library in the country. You can see visit one of the greatest symbols of modern Kolkata at Science City, the biggest science center on the subcontinent.
The quickest way to get to know Kolkata is by joining a guide for a tour through the heart of the city, where you can check out its most beautiful landmarks. Get a different kind of local flavor with an introduction to Begali cuisine, in the form of a home cooking demonstration with a celebrity chef. You can get a look at the life of Mother Teresa with a visit to the Missionaries of Charity headquarters, where she lived and worked for nearly 50 years. Or you can leave the city behind for a journey to the Ganges Delta on a day trip to explore the sights of Sagar Island.