As quoted by Tahir Shah, ‘’Calcutta’s the only city I know where you are actively encouraged to stop strangers at random for a quick chat”, and this marks a unique identification on the Bengali people what the nation dub them as, Bongs!
Take 1: The Bongs!
Be in the city, I’m quite sure you will encounter some fussy bifocal old age group sitting in a roadside tea stall, in one hand holding either the Ananda Bazar Patrika or Bartaman and in the other a cup of tea, hashing out a political trauma. Usually it happens in Kolkata, the city turns black and blue, when there is a vigorous blend of Red and Green colours. There is an open invitation where you can join this discussion with your own point of view and that makes another ‘glass of tea’, served hot. You can get hold of these sights at spots in the alleys of Central Kolkata – Bahubazar, Sealdah, Sadar Street and Park Circus; South Calcutta – Ballygaunj, Kasba, Kalighat, Chetla and Gariahat; and North Kolkata – Belghoria, Dumdum, Lake Town, Shyambazar and Sovabazar.
Take 2: The Bengali Delicacies!
There you go to the culinary galley. Here you have the areas like Esplanade, Park Street, Camac Street, Maidan, Rabindra Sadan and Tangra. As quoted by all Bongs, “khabo dabo ghumabo”, and this exhibits how the folk lives. Bengalis are real food lovers and once you are in their tasty den you become one like them. And if you are a sakhahari, a spicy fish curry is palatably waiting for you.
Well my veggie friends, you may burp after the unique preparation of potol’er dorma (preparation of pointed gourd), alu posto (preparation of poppy seeds) and kopi’r torkari (preparation of cauliflower and cabbage respectively).
Step in the restaurants like sholo ana bangali , Oh! Calcutta, Bhojohori Manna and 6 Ballygaunj Place.
Take 3: The Kolkata Horologe!
Ask anyone for one direction, I’m sure the Perfect Bong will end up with the entire routes in Kolkata. They have plenty of time for travellers like you. Like this way with some right turns and left you will acquaint the colonial era. The Victoria Memorial Hall, Indian Museum, Marble Palace, National Library of India, Asiatic Society, Presidency College, Scottish Church College, and St. Xavier’s College, Calcutta, Town Hall, Writer’s Building and Calcutta High Court, are some of the eminent historical buildings in the city. Well, a horse cart ride in the vicinity of Maidan, a boat ride on River Hoogly and a ride on handpull rickshaw could give you some unique and memorable experiences.
Take 4: Kolkata Hymns!
This is where the Bongs exhibits their colours and beat their drums. If you are in the city during the autumn, I’m sure you are going to get hold of Durga Puja. Anyways you can’t miss that. Nonetheless the Kali Temple of Kalighat and the Dakhineshwar Temple are the eminent pilgrimage centers in the city where you can pay a divine visit.
Take 5: Kolkata Shelters!
Well you have lots. Let me clear you that most of the hotels in Kolkata are located amid the congested alleys of Central Kolkata and within the vibrant arcades. Try out The Park Hotel, which is one of the 5 Star Hotels in Kolkata located in Park Street. And now I’m sure you are going to feed your belly when you are stepping in Park Street. This part of Kolkata is arrayed with multi-cuisine restaurants, pubs and discotheques. Just Cheers will not do. Go for Oly Pub, a heritage Bar for all reputed alcoholics. It is a perfect shelter where credit cards are not allowed, only liquid cash can meet your thirst.
Seeking for a budget shelter? The Hotel Camac Plaza located in Park Steet and the Hotel Victerrace International in Ballygaunge are the two budget hotels in Kolkata that brings you an ideal stay.
*This is a snap of Mr. Kurush F Dalal (an archeologist and a food blogger) inside Oly Pub, Park Street.
Photo Courtesy @ Kalyan Karmakar – finelychopped.net
Take 6: Kolkata Hop!
Usually you don’t have to worry about travelling in Kolkata. You have the Auto Rickshaws for short distances, my free advice here will be, ‘keep changes i.e. khulley paisey’. Then you have the private buses, tram and local trains. The Metro Railway in Kolkata is also a good option to travel from South to North Kolkata. Avoid Office Hours, here the Bongs are bit messy and slangy.