India is unlike any other destination. It is a country that does not fade, heals the soul, and shares clues of the meaning of life. Despite all the poverty and difficult conditions, it is almost like a rainbow. Kolkata, the third-largest city in India, gets its share from this.
Kolkata, established on the shores of the Hugli River, a branch of the Holy Ganges River, is one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 14 million. It would not be wrong to call this city, which is a city of contrasts from splendor to misery, and its dynamism never ends, a “human festival”. India’s most important port is here. Kolkata, with a 330-year history, is also the city of contradictions; light and shadow, old and new, rich and poor, skyscrapers and old colonial houses are all intertwined. It is mentioned that Kolkata is one of the unique cities where the rich and the poor live peacefully side by side, and that a person who lives here cannot be happy anywhere else in the world. Although most Western people who look at Kolkata witness the painful images of poverty, this is not the whole picture. Kolkata is also the intellectual, artistic and cultural capital of India. Poets, writers, artists choose this city to live. It is worth seeing the crowded streets, temples, mosques, and bazaars.
Join the dance of colors
There is a fascinating marketplace in the city that almost never sleeps, preserves its vitality for 24 hours. The magnificent Howrah Bridge, which connects the two sides of the Hugli River, with thousands of people and various vehicles crossing every day, and the flower market, spread over a wide area under it, are striking. If you come here at dawn, you will see wholesalers arrive at the market with huge flower bales that they will sell at auctions to retailers. Although it may seem unbelievable to see so many flowers together and that they are actually being sold every day, remember that Indians offer flowers to their gods at every opportunity. Every Sunday, the temples are filled with crowds in their most colorful clothes, carrying flowers in their hands. It is fun to wander among the flowers and observe the sellers and buyers. Bathing of the workers living in the huts all together in the river and the sunset view of Howrah Bridge are not to miss to see. Around 7 am, local wrestlers show their skills in a sand area that is a bit behind the river.
Discover the street food paradise
Dynamism may be on the streets and in the markets, among the crowds, but Maidan Park, which is a large green area in the heart of the city, offers the inhabitants of this city a fresh breath, family trips, walks, cricket, football matches, horse carriage rides, and breaks. Victoria Memorial and St. Paul’s Cathedral in the south, and the shores of the Hugli River in the west surround it. A calm ride on the tram passing through the middle of the park, which dates back to the 1900s, can be quite an enjoyable activity. Dacres Lane first comes to mind of those who feel hungry after walking and attending activities in the park. This narrow passage takes you to the street food paradise. Indian cuisine is unique with meat dishes and spices. It is worth trying papaya and carrot stew, toast with meat, fried vegetables, wok-fried noodles, chicken and rice with curry.
See the splendor of the Raj era
Many cities have historical cemeteries worth seeing. The South Park Street Cemetery in Kolkata is no different. This historic cemetery, which was used from 1767 to 1840, is an oasis in a forest that owes its beauty to being untouched, with its pyramid-shaped tombs and tombstones extending from vaults to the sky as if to pay respect to the Raj era. Although some tombs have difficulty standing straight against time, they are important and impressive in terms of belonging to academics, scientists and botanists who lived in the colonial period of Kolkata.
Don’t return without taking a photo of the symbol of the city
The location of Kolkata is important. In the place where the Hugli River in the east of India began to expand as it poured into the Bay of Bengal, it was established approximately 100 km from the sea and became a big city in time. The Howrah Bridge, built on the Huglî River, connecting the cities of Howrah and Kolkata, is one of the busiest bridges in the world. Taking a photo of the bridge, which is the symbol of the city, is one of the indispensables of a Kolkata trip.
Find shelter in the calmness of marble
Marble structures mark the architecture all over India. We should also mention the Marble Palace in Kolkota. This palacelike mansion was built in 1835 by a French architect for a wealthy Bengali merchant and art expert named Raja Rajendra Mullick. The aim of Mullick was to protect valuable artworks here. The mansion takes its name from its dazzling white marble floor and walls. There are also striking Western art sculptures and Victorian furniture collections. The private zoo opened by Raja Rajendra Mullick is the first zoo in India. With its Tuscan style and Corinthian columns, the building’s plasterwork is magnificent.
Listen to the symphony of architecture
Another remarkable structure is Belur Math, a temple which is called “A Symphony in Architecture”. This is an important pilgrimage center of the country and a heritage site of national importance. Representing the idea of “Universal Faith” of India, this structure was conceptualized by the famous student of Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, who took the Hindu religion to the Western world. His idea and vision inspired millions. Today, Ramakrishna Missionary is responsible for the promise to serve humanity devotedly. Located on the bank of the tranquil Ganges River, the 40-acre campus includes temples dedicated to Ramakrishna, Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananda. There is also a museum in the campus that contains works related to the history of the Ramakrishna Missionary.
It is worth seeing about 400 workshops in which the enchanting sculptures of Hindu gods and goddesses are made, by processing the clay extracted from the nearby Ganges River bed in the Pottery Colony in Kumartuli, a world phenomenon.