Kolkata (Calcutta)

Few cities suffer from as bad – and unjustified – an image problem as Kolkata. Its reputation has plagued it ever since 1756, when its unfortunate European residents were imprisoned in the notorious “Black Hole” by the Nawab of Bengal’s troops. Despite such setbacks, Kolkata can plausibly claim, in its own rather grubby way, to be the most charismatic city in India.

Rickshaw driver waiting for fares outside the Roxy cinema, Kolkata
Rickshaw driver waiting for fares outside the Roxy cinema, Kolkata

It is without doubt among its most cultured, boasting a vibrant literary, arts, and cinema scene which has produced such world-famous luminaries as the Nobel Laureate writer Tagore and the filmmaker Satyajit Ray.

As the former capital of British India, it is also a fascinating monument to the pretensions of the Raj, with a fine array of colonial-era relics ranging from the superbly bombastic Victoria Memorial to the vast Howrah Bridge. For many, the city’s greatest pride may be the vast Eden Gardens cricket stadium, the national shrine to India’s number-one sporting obsession.

Practical Information

Getting There and Around Kolkata airport is served by many international airlines. There are also direct flights from most major cities in India.

Where to Eat Head to 6 Ballygunge Place for traditional Bengali food at its finest.

Where to Stay The Victorian Oberoi Grand is one of Kolkata’s landmark hotels, offering a full range of five-star facilities.

When to Go Between October and March.

Budget per Day for Two US$350

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