Kolkata Tourist Attractions and Sightseeing
(Kolkata / Calcutta, West Bengal, India)
Most of the tourist attractions in Kolkata date from the 18th century and after, with many lining the scenic banks of the Hooghly River. The British-controlled East India Trading Company was busy at this time, and a great deal of construction took place.
Kolkata is a melting pot of world religions and is home to important Jain, Hindu, Buddhist and Christian places of worship. Family oriented attractions like the zoo, planetarium and botanical gardens are also of interest, as well as the popular Nicco Park amusement park and its exciting rollercoasters.
Belur Math Shrine
Address: Grand Trunk Road, Belur Math, Kolkata, India, IN
Tel: +91 033 2654 5892
Located on the western banks of the Hooghly River, this religious centre hinges on the Ramakrishna Mandir, a shrine built in the late 19th century to reflect architectural themes from several world religions. The Ramakrishna Order advocates for the universality of all religions.
Stop in the evening to hear devotees offering song-like prayers (aarti), and be sure to look out for the memorial to Swami Vivekananda, a famous disciple of Ramakrishna. The Belur Math Shrine is easy to reach, being connected by buses from the Esplanade.
Open hours: daily - 06:30 to 11:30, 15:30 to 18:00
Kalighat Kali Temple
Address: Kalighat Road (off Ashutosh Mukherjee Road), Kolkata, India, IN
Tel: +91 033 2223 1516
This is the holiest spot in Kolkata, and draws a mixed crowd of pilgrims and tourists. Legend holds that, when Shiva's wife died, the destroyer god went on a rampage that was only subdued when the other gods chose to sprinkle the wife's remains across the subcontinent. The toes of her right foot fell here, and the temple was built to house them. The market outside sells interesting souvenirs, while next door is Mother Theresa's 'Home for the Dying', better known locally as the Nirmal Hriday.
Open hours: daily - 05:00 to 13:30, 15:00 to 22:00
Admission: free, but donations are encouraged
Paresnath Temple / Parasnath Jain Temple
Address: Badridas Temple Street (corner of Aurobindo Sarani and Raja Dinendra Road), Kolkata, India, IN
This fine Jain temple was commissioned by a jeweller in the 1860s, and his love of refracted light and sparkling gem stones is evident everywhere. The interior is beautiful, with marble-inlaid floors, stained glass and imported Parisian chandeliers. Be sure to pause in the garden for a moment's reflection. Of note, the Paresnath Temple is dedicated to Sheetalnathji, a renowned Jain teacher (Tirthankar).
Open hours: daily - 06:00 to 12:00, 15:00 to 19:00
Admission: free, donations encouraged
MP Birla Planetarium
Address: 96 Chowringhee Road, Kolkata, India, IN
Tel: +91 033 2223 1516
This family attraction is located near the Victoria Memorial. From the outside, it looks rather like a Buddhist stupa, and it is well worth stopping by after hours to see the building under floodlights. Inside is a small museum of astronomy, with two daily star shows in English. The MP Birla Planetarium was actually donated to the city many years ago by the affluent Birla family and remains one of the world's biggest of its kind.
Open hours: daily - 13:30 to 18:30, show times vary
Kolkata Zoo (Alipore Zoological Gardens)
Address: Alipore Road, Alipore, Kolkata, India, IN
Tel: +91 033 2479 1152
Kolkata's zoo opened as far back as 1875. It spans around 40 acres / 16 hectares and maintains one of the most humane collections of zoo animals in India
. The Alipore Zoological Gardens ranks amongst the city's top tourist attractions and each year enjoys visitor numbers in the region of two million. Many typical zoo animals are to be found here, including African lions, dromedary camels, Indian elephants, giraffes, hippos, leopards, monkeys, Macaw parrots, peacocks, rhinos and zebras. The lake area with its lightly landscaped lawn is popular for weekend picnics, while close by on Alipore Road, the Horticultural Gardens warrant a visit. Also nearby is the zoo's aquarium, which lies just across the street.
Open hours: daily - 09:00 to 17:00
Address: Botanical Garden Road, West Bank, Kolkata, India, IN
Tel: +91 033 2668 5357
When the street-level intensity of Kolkata proves too much, the tranquillity of these botanical gardens is the perfect remedy. The gardens were founded in 1786 on the banks of the Hooghly River and cover just over 250 acres / 100 hectares. There are many noteworthy attractions to be found within the Botanical Gardens, such as its majestic palm house and enormous 250 year-old banyan tree, which is said to have one of the world's biggest canopies. The history of the tea cultivation once managed here by the British East India Company is also likely to be of interest.
Open hours: daily - 07:00 to 17:00
Mother Teresa's Mission
Address: 54a AJC Bose Road, Chowringhee, Kolkata, India, IN
Tel: +91 033 2452 277
The work of Mother Teresa (1910 to 1997), a famous Catholic nun known throughout the world, brought the plight of Kolkata's poor to international attention. It was in this very city where in 1937, she took her vows whilst serving as a local teacher at the convent school of Loreto. Visitors come here to pay homage to Mother Theresa and to tour the onsite museum. Her modest upstairs room is a tribute to her minimalist lifestyle.
Open hours: Friday to Wednesday - 08:00 to 12:00 and 15:00 to 18:00
Address: Bidhan Sarani, Kolkata, India, IN
In North Kolkata's university district, this area is best known for its secondhand book stalls. Literally thousands are on hand, with titles to suit pleasure readers and academics alike. The Indian Coffee House, famous haunt of revolutionaries, is also to be found within the College Street area.
Open hours: daily - 08:00 to 18:00
Dakshineswar Kali Temple
Address: Near Vivekananda Setu, Kolkata, India, IN
Tel: +91 033 2564 5222
The Dakshineswar Kali Temple stands alongside the Hooghly River and directly opposite the Belur Math, with these two attractions connected by regular river ferries. This popular temple features classical Bengali 'Nava-ratna' (nine spires) architecture and was built in the middle of the 19th century, being surrounded by a dozen further temples, all of which are dedicated to Shiva.
Open hours: daily - 06:30 to 12:00, 15:30 to 21:00
Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC)
Address: Golf Club Road, Kolkata, India, IN
Tel: +91 033 2473 1288
The Royal Calcutta Golf Club resides opposite the Tollygunge Golf Club on SP Mukherjee Road, where it remains one of the oldest in existence outside of Britain, being established as far back as 1829. This prestigious golf club has 18 holes and is mostly flat, with a number of natural water features. The club gained its 'Royal' title in 1911, when King George V and Queen Mary visited the city during their tour of India. A round of golf here is best played between October to March, when conditions are at their most favourable.
Open hours: daily
Admission: charge for guests not accompanied by members and equipment hire
Address: BN Block, Sector V, Kolkata, India, IN
Tel: +91 033 2357 8101
Nicco Park is situated within the Salt Lake City (Bidhannagar / Bidhan Nagar) suburb of Kolkata, on the easterly outskirts of the city, and is just a short distance from Science City
and the Nalban Boating Complex. This fun theme park is perfect for families and boasts many exciting thrill rides, including log flumes and the biggest wooden rollercoaster in the whole of Asia. Additional attractions at Nicco Park include a lengthy cable car ride, a 4D movie theatre, a pirate ship and a water park, complete with an enormous wave pool.
Open hours: daily - 11:00 to 21:00
Admission: charge, discounts for children, different day passes available
Address: Strand Road South, Kolkata, India, IN
Located on the eastern banks of the Hooghly River, the Millennium Park has become an important recreational attraction in the city, with many locals coming here for a stroll or picnic. This is a seriously good place to relax and watch life passing you by, whilst enjoying the excellent views of the Howrah Bridge
. A jetty at the Millennium Park offers river cruses at weekends, which tend to depart in late afternoon and feature live entertainment and basic refreshments.
Open hours: daily - 10:00 to 20:30
Eden Gardens / Ranji Cricket Stadium
Address: Eden Garden Road, Kolkata, India, IN
The Eden Gardens reside on the northerly side of the Maidan Park, close to the Netaji Indoor Stadium and the Bidhan Sabha Bhaban. These pleasant landscaped gardens are centred around a large lake, where a beautiful Burmese pagoda resides. However, it is the adjacent Ranji Stadium (Calcutta Cricket Ground) that draws the crowds, being highly regarded on the Indian Cricket circuit and regularly hosting international games. Recently renovated, the Ranji Stadium is quite enormous and can accommodate some 80,000 spectators.
Open hours: daily - 05:00 to 18:30
Admission: free, charge for cricket matches
Address: Hooghly River, Kolkata, India, IN
Although the Hooghly River may not appear as an especially inviting attraction, it plays an important part to local Hindus. Each day, devotees of this religion come to the river to bathe at the ghats (stairs leading to the river) and to make religious offerings. The Babu Ghat is one of the most popular spots for this and is close to the Eden Gardens, while other notable ghats include the Belur Math, the Fairlie, the Kasi Mitra, the Nimtala, the Outram, the Shidpur, the Takta and the Vidyasagar.
Open hours: daily
Maidan Park / Fort William
Address: Kolkata, India, IN
The Maidan is a simply enormous park and stretches for some 3 km / 2 miles, being filled with all kinds of attractions, such as landscaped gardens, statues, memorials and fountains. For locals in Kolkata, this is a good place for an early morning jog. Others come here to relax, away from busy city life and its resultant smog. Crowds tend to gather around the towering Sahid Minar monument, where circus performers and other live entertainment can be expected. On the southerly side of the Maidan Park is the 'new' Fort William, which was built on the site of an older fortress between 1758 and 1781, and marks the spot where the past village of Gobindapur was once based.
Open hours: daily