This imposing marble edifice is laid out in a sprawling lawn, at Maidan, Kolkata. It was built in 1921 by Sir William Emerson in Indo-Saracenic style to commemorate Queen’s 25 years of rule. Today this heritage site is house to achievements in art and a fine collection of images and statues of British India memorabilia . There are a group of statues on the north porch of the building signifying Motherhood, Prudence and Learning. It is tranquility that is striking, at a place amidst a roaring Kolkata crowd. This museum is a treat to watch with the colorful lights on after Sun set.
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Barely an hours drive form kolkata is the famous belur Math. It is the headquarters of Sri Rama Krisha spiritual order. Located on the banks of Hoogly (Ganges), it spreads over an area of 40 acres. The sacred shrines, the Ganges and lush green vegetation infuses into you a sense of peace and divinity. As per the words of Swami Vivekananda, the greatest disciples of Sri Ramakrishna ”The blazing light of universal harmony that will emanate from here will flood the whole world ”. The Math houses elegant temples containing the sacred remains of Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananda plus headquarters of Ramakrishna order. The main temple is a unique work of modern architecture and a true demonstration of India’s cultural richness. The magnificent sandstone edifice embodies features of a Hindu temple, Buddhist cave, Christian church and Islamic mosque.
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Fort William, Kolkata
Named after the king of England, King William III, Fort William is probably one of the oldest and most powerful fortresses of British Raj in India. Built in 1701 this fort still serves as the headquarters of India’s Eastern military command. The impregnable fort was then erected at a cost of more than 2 million British pounds. There is a museum for the tourists that displays a fine collection of old and new armaments. There are old photographs of Burma war and Bangladesh Liberation war too to hold your interest. You need to seek prior permission from the fort authorities to be able to visit.
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Howrah Bridge (Rabindra Setu)
The symbol of Kolkata, this cantilever bridge has a history dating back to 1874 when it was a Floating Pontoon Bridge was built using timber. The sixth longest bridge of its kind in the world the Howrah bridge connects the twin cities of Howrah and Kolkata. Howrah railway station is one of the busiest in the world and would be your gateway to Kolkata if your are arriving or departing by rail. The view of Ganges (Hoogly) from the bridge is an experience one must undertake when in Kolkata. The breeze and rhythmic vibrations of vehicles crossing the bridge give you a feeling of euphoria. You could also check out the flower market right at the Kolkata end of Rabindra setu.
Birla Planetarium, Kolkata
Birla planetarium of Kolkata is one of the largest and oldest Planetariums in India . Established in 1962 it has been a hub for astronomical studies in East India . The main structure is an imitation of the Sanchi Stupa and can seat 500 spectators at a time. It houses a giant projector setup comprising of a whooping 29,000 components. Shows are in English, Bengali, Hindi and occasionally in some other Indian languages. The outer corridors have a fine array of paintings showcasing famous astronomical models and theories of renowned astronomers. If you are interested in stars, galaxies and space then this is the place for you. It is entertainment packet with education.
Marble Palace, Kolkata
Marble Palace is actually an old private mansion of an Indian Jamindar built way back in 1835. This incredible building houses a huge collection of western sculpture and Victorian furniture. If you are a lover of arts then you would definitely be interested in paintings by European and Indian artists. In home décor you could find nice chandeliers and ceiling length mirrors. Is it said that the Marble Palace had India ’s first ever zoo. Though it still stands inmates are today a few species of birds. This place is still inhabited by the descendants of the original Jamindars who built this imposing and beautiful mansion. You need a permission letter from the tourism department to visit this place.
What we list above is not all. This is only a small part of the attractions that Kolkata stores for you. If you are planning to visit Kolkata some where in October then make sure you adjust your itinerary so that you do not miss the world famous Dussehra Festival of Kolkata. Here are some other places that you would like to include in your list of places to cover in “Calcutta”.
Eden Gardens – One of the most reverred cricket gorunds in world. It is in the same leagues as Lord’s and MCC Ground.
Writer’s Building – Currently the State Secretariat that houses several departments, this impressive edifice has a very high significance in Indian freedom movement.
Nicco Park – A modern entertainment spot. For young and old alike, it has a good collection of joy rides and a water theme park.
Shaheed Minar – A tower dedicated to martyrs that looks over the Maidan area.
National Library – The largest library in India and the second largest in Asia, it holds around 2 million books and half a million documents.
Botanical Garden – It is believed to house the worlds second largest canopy in form of a giant banyan tree. You could see a wide variety of flora from over the world and an abundance of colorful flowers including Orchids.
Alipore Zoo – Though it has been the butt of press ridicule and criticized by wildlife organizations it still continues to be one of popular tourists attractions.
Continued in: Places to Visit in Kolkata – Part 2
Image Credits: Manuel