Kolkata Journals

The Charm of Kolkata

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An October 2002 trip to Kolkata by phileasfogg

Victoria Memorial Photo, Kolkata, India More Photos
Quote: Kolkata- or, as much of the world still calls it, Calcutta- is a city of amazing diversity. A city distinctly Indian, but with a noticeably colonial feel to it. Warm, charming, and the sort of place you can actually fall in love with in just two days.

The Charm of Kolkata

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Overview

A View of Kolkata Photo, Kolkata, India
Quote:
Kolkata has plenty to offer for the tourist clamouring for a taste of Asia: there’s lots here that’s very exotic. And for everybody else, the city has its fair share of colonial monuments- Calcutta, after all, was a creation of the British, and Kolkata retains, to this day, more than a mere flavour of the past. The must-see, must-do attractions include the white-marble Victoria Memorial, with its collection of Kolkata memorabilia; the Howrah Bridge (or bridges, really: the old one, with its distinctive suspension towers, and the new one, more contemporary but with not a fraction of the older one’s charm); and the interesting- at least for the younger lot- Science City. If y...Read More

Mocambo

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Restaurant

Quote:
Yes, I know India’s not the place to go eating continental food, but Mocambo happens to be good at churning out succulent Chateaubriands and the most delicious devilled crab ever- and at a fraction of what you’d pay west of the Suez. The restaurant stands on Park Street, and is fairly bland on the outside- but when you get inside, it’s a different story altogether. The decor’s awful- a merry mishmash of everything from orange lampshades and dingy green aquariums which look like they haven’t been cleaned in months, to plastic plants and ugly cockscomb flowers in little brass vases. The waiters, though they look fairly ridiculous in their long coats and fitting trousers, are efficient and unobtrusive, a...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on December 8, 2002

Mocambo
25/B Park Street
Calcutta, India
229-0095

Kim Ling

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Restaurant

Quote:
The first Chinese settler in Calcutta, Yong Atchew, arrived around 1780, and was followed, over the next two centuries, by more of his fellow-countrymen, who established Calcutta’s original Chinatown, around Bentinck Street and Phears Lane. It’s now been replaced by the `New Chinatown’, in Tengra- and it’s here that you’ll find some splendid Chinese grub. It’s very much part of Kolkata’s culture, and the ambience is a delicious combination of China and Bengal. Although there are a lot of Chinese restaurants around, Kim Ling’s a personal favourite.Kim Ling looks fairly inconspicuous on the outside; look sharp, or may just miss it. The restaurant’s large, and is divided into a number of rooms, one of...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 8, 2002

Kim Ling
13 South Tengra Road
Calcutta, India
329-8923

Nizam’s

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Restaurant

Quote:
Nizam’s is one of Kolkata’s institutions- you can’t go to Kolkata and not visit Nizam’s! Not that it’s a very spiffy joint or anything of the sort; it’s just that Nizam’s makes the most luscious kathi kababs in the world- and this is not an exaggeration. For those who aren’t too clued into what kathi kababs are all about, here’s a very brief explanation: they’re very thin, pliant breads, wrapped around a spicy mixture of vegetable or meat (if you’re not content with that, check out my `Dining in Delhi’ journal- that has a longer description of kathis and how they’re made).Nizam’s lays claim- and probably justifiably- to the invention of kathi kababs. The story goes that Sheikh Hasan Reza, a ...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on December 8, 2002

Nizam’s
23/24 Hogg Street
Calcutta, India
216-7517

New Market

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Attraction

New Market Photo, Kolkata, India
Quote:
Once known as Hogg’s Market, New Market (and there’s nothing new about it, barring some reconstruction after a fire here in 1985) is the place to go shopping in Kolkata. No, Benetton and Calvin Klein and big brands in the same league don’t have shops here; but some of Kolkata’s oldest stores do, and anyway, the market is interesting enough to visit just for the experience- it’s really more a historical sight, rather than a local market. New Market was built in 1864 (that’s how `new’ it is!!), and ten years later, in 1874, the neighbouring Sir Stuart Hogg Market was added- today the two markets are more or less contiguous. With a newly-painted red, cream and green façade, New Market is fairly strik...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on December 8, 2002

New Market
Lindsay Street
Calcutta, India

Indian Museum

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Attraction

Indian Museum Photo, Kolkata, India
Quote:
The Indian Museum in Kolkata holds the distinction of being India’s largest (and oldest) museum and the world’s ninth-oldest regular museum. Sounds impressive, but unfortunately the place itself isn’t all that great- or maybe that was just because we were unlucky enough to visit it at a time when parts of it were closed for renovations. The museum’s housed in a large and fairly imposing white building on Jawaharlal Nehru Road (the building dates back to 1878, although the museum itself was established in 1814, at the office of the Asiatic Society). Sixty galleries surround a central garden, where you can sit down for a breather- which you’ll definitely need if you’re planning on going through the enti...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on December 8, 2002

Indian Museum
27 Jawaharlal Nehru Road
Calcutta, India

Victoria Memorial

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Attraction

Victoria Memorial Photo, Kolkata, India
Quote:
The brainchild of the Indian Viceroy Lord Curzon, the Victoria Memorial was begun in 1906 and completed in 1921, a somewhat delayed but fitting tribute to the Empress of India. Nearly a century later, it sits pretty, impressive and surprisingly clean- despite Kolkata’s pollution- amidst sprawling gardens, gravel pathways and cool watercourses. Explore the grounds (which are dotted with bronze sculptures of Queen Victoria, and of many of India’s governors-general), and then enter the memorial, an imposing domed structure of white marble that looks straight out of Europe.Inside, you’ll come to what’s known as the Queen’s Hall, fringed along its walls by marble busts of colonial Calcut...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 8, 2002

Victoria Memorial
Calcutta
Calcutta, India

Glimpses of Kolkata

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Story/Tip

Quote:
Ask any Indian- or rather any urban, educated Indian- and he or she will tell you that India has five metropolises: Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore. And if the Indian you choose to question has a little bit of time to spare, he or she will probably also tell you that each of these cities has a distinct character all its own. In Delhi, it’s politics, administration and pollution all the way; in Mumbai, it’s business and film-making; Chennai is populated by the upwardly mobile, as is Bangalore, which is, more or less, the Indian equivalent of Silicon Valley. Coming to the question of Kolkata (or Calcutta, as most of the world still knows it), your Indian may take some time to decide; becau...Read More