Kolkata the city of joy popularly known as Calcutta was the capital of British India. The city is an epitome of the colours and vibrancy that India is known for. I had the fortune of visiting this amazing city many years ago, as I was participating in a national-level chess tournament.
Every city has a first impression on you and Kolkata blew me away in the very first minute. As the train pulled into the Howrah Station, I was overwhelmed by the sheer size of the railway junction. It had over 25 platforms! The architecture added to the magnificence and grandeur of the railway junction. As a tourist, I can say this was the most amazing welcome I got into any city!
The city of Kolkata was the capital of the Bengal state even before the East India Company. As the British influence increased the city served as the capital of British India. The city was very British in its culture and valued local and international art forms. You’ll find that some of India’s finest artists in the field of poetry, motion pictures, art and food originating from this city.
Now, I had visited Kolkata to play in the national- level chess tournament. I was really young and yet, the city has left a lasting impression on me. There were many unique things I noticed about Kolkata and I’m sure many of those things may have changed over the course of time.
Back then, Kolkata was the only Indian city with a metro system! I remember taking a metro ride to Dum Dum and back with my mother!
Another unique thing was that taxis were those giant Ambassadors and yellow in colour.
You got Rasgullas and Jhal Muri at every street corners the way you get Bhajji Pav in Mumbai.
They washed the streets with water every morning! How cool is that? 😀
Places I visited and remember
Salt Lake Stadium
My chess tournament was in this mammoth stadium. It has a seating capacity of 120,000 people and trust me they need that much. This is the stadium where the local football teams battle it out and the crowds mean business.
The stadium is really massive and feels like a university campus really.
It is really the quintessential Kolkata tourist spot. This enormous construction made entirely out of marble was built in the early years of the 20th century to serve as a memorial to the late Queen Victoria who’s reign proved to be very prosperous for the British Empire. The setting for this monument is surreal and it is indeed a great public space created during the British Raj.
The tournament didn’t really let me explore the city to the fullest but staying there for almost a month I did get a good feel of the people and culture. There’s little doubt that you can find India’s greatest creative talents coming from this part of the country.
I’d only warn you about being conned by taxi drivers and eating street food from the wrong places.
Are you a Kolkata local? How has the place changed in the recent years? As a tourist, how was your experience in Kolkata?
Leave your comments and thoughts in the comments below!