Kolkata Travel Guide

Better known internationally as Calcutta, Kolkata lies in the very northeast of India, close to the border with Bangladesh. The capital of West Bengal and the former capital of the country under the British, given its prominence during the Raj, Kolkata is home to a large number of colonial relics. Also enjoying considerable redevelopment since the turn of the millennium, previously lagging behind other Indian cities, Kolkata is now also riding the economic boom that has hit the sub-continent.

Famous as a sprawling slum more often frequented by aid workers than tourists, Kolkata is a huge city of 11 million people that has changed dramatically since 2000. The Victoria Memorial in Maidan Park is a 100-year old marble Italian Renaissance-style building in extensive gardens on the banks of the River Hooghly and a must-see during any visit. Other notable colonial-era buildings include the India Museum, the oldest museum in Asia built around a white quadrangle with well-manicured gardens, exhibits fossils, antiques and art. The Esplanade district is the most colonial in style and also the business district of Kolkata.

For the slum-side of Kolkata, head to Dum Dum, a district of crammed little lanes and a number of bazaars, street vendors and little stores. The exact opposite to Dum Dum can be experienced in South Kolkata, the most upscale part of the city and the district in which you can find a Chinatown and the legendary Royal Calcutta Golf Club, the oldest in the world after Scotland’s St Andrews.


Maidan: the greenest section of the city and home to the Victoria Memorial, the most splendid of all Kolkata’s many colonial buildings.

India Museum: the oldest museum in Asia and an attraction in itself with its splendid white quadrangle and gardens.

Dum Dum: bustling bazaars and street vendors add to the downtrodden feel that makes this the real Kolkata experience.

Royal Calcutta Golf Club: the oldest golf club on the planet after St Andrews, this green and pleasant course in South Kolkata is a great getaway when the city gets too much.

Chinatown: tired of curry? Why not tuck into some chow mein instead at any one of the dozens of great eateries here.

Marble Palace: in a city known for palatial mansions, this marble masterpiece offers a vast collection of artworks and a small zoo.