Kolkata which was formerly known as Calcutta is the capital of the West Bengal state of India. Commonly referred to as just West Bengal. It was founded by the East India Trading company and was for a time, India’s capital. It is situated on the far eastern side of the country. India stays relatively hot year-round with a monsoon/rainy season running from June to September. This is why temperatures are usually warmer in April than in the middle of the summer in July. Here are the highs and lows throughout each season of the year.
Month High Low
January 79°F 53°F
April 97°F 75°F
July 91°F 77°F
October 90°F 73°F
This city’s name, still to this day, causes confusion, with only a slight difference in spelling. You may be wondering why change the name at all, well, it’s a complicated story so I’ll keep it simple. In 2001, the government decided to change the name in order to reflect on its traditional Bengali pronunciation. As with many other countries that were colonized by the British, they tend to struggle with their identity. This is a way to regain some of that heritage. As I mentioned it was colonized by the British and so this beautiful city is home to an array of stunning colonial architecture, museums and art galleries. It is a city full of blended culture with traditional elements, colonial remnants and modern buildings. One thing the city is famous for is theater and film. You must catch a show while in town.
Another influence this city has had is one from the infamous Mother Teresa. Today, you can visit ‘Mother House’ which is both the headquarters of a charity run by missionaries and the location of her tomb. Sports fans listen up, although the most popular sport in India is cricket and Kolkata is home to India’s largest cricket stadium, Eden Gardens. In fact, it is the 3rd largest in the world. This city’s heart beats for soccer. Their soccer league is the second oldest in the world. You are bound to catch some locals playing in their lunch breaks and throughout the day.
The easiest way to get around this unique city is by hopping on the Kolkata Metro, the first of its kind in India as well as their city trams which have been operating since 1902. A vacation to Kolkata is bound to be one full of culture and heritage. Let’s explore the top 10 Cultural sites not to be missed in Kolkata.
Kicking off our Tripio custom top 10 is none other than a marble marvel dedicated to a former Queen. The Victoria Memorial is dedicated to the memory of Queen Victoria and was established in 1921. This huge, impressive building is made from white marble and stands out against the backdrop of Kolkata. It acts as a museum housing 25 galleries with more than 28,000 artifacts. It is no wonder this magnificent building is the winner of the travelers choice award. Take some time to explore the galleries inside and the surrounding gardens. There are a few small local vendors just outside the gardens selling local snacks and sodas. So, if this doesn’t suit you, I would recommend bringing a packed lunch and enjoying a picnic in the gardens. This is a must-see when you travel to Kolkata and definitely deserves its spot at number 1 in our top 10. Download the Tripio app right now and start planning your next vacation. It is so simple! Create a custom itinerary in seconds or scroll through our many destinations and start building your very own bucket list.
From a very ‘Colonial’ looking building at number 1 in our Tripio custom top 10 to a traditional temple coming in very close behind. As I said, Kolkata has such a diverse mix of stunning heritage buildings. The stunning Dakshineswar Kali Temple was built in 1855. This red and cream temple stands out with its 9 striking ornate spires. Dedicated to the Hindu gods Krishna and Vishnu. This beautiful structure is a significant place of worship for many people so please always ensure to be respectful. You will be required to leave your shoes at the entrance of the temple and no cell phones are allowed inside. Be sure to get a photograph from the outside though as this temple truly does amaze! This is definitely one to add to your custom itinerary even if you are in Kolkata just for the adventure. May as well sprinkle a bit of culture in there too!
All this talk of identity issues formed from countries that were once under the rule of another country/empire brings us to number 3 on our Tripio custom top 10. Big Ben! Yes, you heard that correctly! Built in 2015, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee’s dream of having Big Ben in his city became a reality. This of course was not without controversy, some residents happy to have a piece of their former ruling empire in their city while others despised it. However you feel, it is definitely worth getting a photograph of it. This replica Big Ben stands at 135 feet tall which is less than half the height of the original Big Ben in London which stands at 314 feet. You cannot go in this Big Ben, just get a pretty cool photo from the outside and confuse all your friends back home. This is the perfect opportunity to share with your friends the iconic places you found for your vacation on the Tripio app.
Kolkata is home to the oldest tramway in Asia. These iconic electric trams were the first of their kind in Asia and have been in operation since 1902. This is not only a great way to get around the city but to also experience something that is a big part of Kolkata’s identity. The locals are very proud of their trams.
If you still haven’t gotten enough of the trams then pay a visit to the tram museum. Smaranika Tram Museum consists of two, old, decommissioned trams from the 1930’s. The first tram sells snacks and drinks while the second tram displays the historical journey of these trams and how pivotal they have been to the city of Kolkata.
Belur Math is a large religious complex spread out over 40 acres and housing temples, shrines and a museum. This incredible complex is dedicated to Sri Ramakrishna Math and is a place of extreme religious significance. Please remain respectful at all times as there will be many people deeply engaged in prayer. You will be required to remove your shoes upon entry.
From stunning temples to a breath-taking church, this Tripio custom top 10 has it all. Coming in at number 6 on our top 10 is a beautiful church. St. Paul’s Cathedral Kolkata is a gorgeous Anglican church built in 1847. This impressive structure took over 8 years to complete but stands strong today. You can visit for a service or just to have a look around. The stained glass windows are always one of my favorite parts of a church and this one features some gorgeous windows.
Coming in at number 7 on our Tripio custom top 10 is the Nakhoda Masjid Mosque. The majority of India’s population practice Hinduism. According to a recent census, approximately 80% of India’s population identify as being Hindu. While 14% are Muslim and only 2% being Christian. The rest is broken up by the remaining religions of the world. I find this quite fascinating. Nakhoda Masjid Mosque was built in 1926 and is the largest Mosque in Kolkata, it can accommodate over 10,000 worshippers! You may be wondering with only 14% of India’s population being Muslim, why build such a large Mosque, well, when you take into account that India’s population is over 1.38 Billion and counting….. that is still a heck of a lot of people. This beautiful ornate Mosque was built out of granite and is a striking red color with a green domed roof. This is a place of religious significance so please be well covered in clothing and be respectful at all times.
8. Birla Mandir
Birla Mandir in Kolkata is a magnificent structure made of white marble and sandstone that took 26 years to complete. It was finally completed in 1996. This is a stunning Hindu temple dedicated to the Hindu God Krishna. Photography isn’t allowed inside but you can take a photo on the picturesque stairway leading up to the impressive temple. The elephants that are so intricately carved into the marble are just exquisite. This is a place of worship so as always please be respectful.
The Marble Palace is famous for exactly as the name suggests, being made of Marble. Everything from its walls, floors, columns and even sculptures are all made from white marble. It was built in 1835 by order of Raja Rajendra Mullick. Today, amazingly, his descendants still occupy parts of this impressive palace. A section of the Palace is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday between 10am and 3pm. You will also have to obtain a special permit prior to visiting the palace. The permit can be obtained from the West Bengal Tourism Information Bureau at BBD Bag. As it is private property, you are allowed to take photographs of the outside only. Photography inside is strictly forbidden. While on tour inside the palace, you will be required to remove your shoes.
The Indian Museum is the oldest museum in India, opening its doors in 1814. This museum acts as a natural history museum with exhibits focusing on archaeology, anthropology, zoology and geology. It houses a huge, impressive collection of artifacts spread over 35 galleries. One of the most popular and notable attractions is a 4000 year old mummy from Egypt. This museum is grand and feels more like a palace than a museum. It is spread out over two floors and contains a shop, canteen and plenty of seating.
Well, there you have it! That concludes our Tripio top 10 list of cultural sites not to be missed in Kolkata. There is sure to be some bucket list ticking in this unique and culturally diverse city. Be sure to download the Tripio app right now and start planning your next adventure. The Tripio app makes planning your travels easy. You can create a full vacation’s custom itinerary in minutes! Tripio is the ultimate travel app. We have done all the research for you to source all the best things to do in each destination. The best adventures, the top cultural sites, the best food spots and those niche, little, secret locations to get that Instagram worthy photo, we have it! Download it today and start adding these amazing places to your itinerary right away!
-Gemma Winchester, Tripio Guru
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