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Book a flight to Kolkata with Qatar Airways and enjoy exploring India's second-biggest city. Scrape beneath the surface of the former capital of British India, and you'll find a dynamic, friendly city. Colonial architecture, new suburbs and some of the best restaurants in the country elevate this city to a must-visit destination.
Today, West Bengal’s capital continues to capture the hearts of many visitors as it spawns a new generation of filmmakers, writers and poets. One thing is for sure: a trip to Kolkata will always be a memorable one.
Kolkata derived its name from Kalighat, so where better to start your journey in the city than in Kalighat Kali Temple? The temple is believed to have stood since the 15th century, although the present structure is a reconstruction dating back to the early 1800s. The temple attracts snaking queues of visitors every day, so arrive early to avoid the rush. Another temple worth visiting is the 19th-century Dakshineswar Kali Temple, located along the eastern bank of the Hooghly River.
Sightseers from across the globe to Kolkata to visit Sundarbans Tiger Reserve. At 2,585 square kilometres, it is the largest of its kind in the world, supporting an exceptional biodiversity. The reserve is home to a wide variety of fauna, including royal Bengal tigers, estuarine crocodiles, Indian pythons, Irrawaddy dolphins and more than 200 bird species. You can take a cruise along the sanctuary’s waterways, through the mangrove swamps, for a perfect escape from the urban chaos.
Chowringhee Road, where the British citadel at Fort William is located, is a great place to start your exploration of Kolkata. Also worth a visit is the Victoria Memorial, a white marble monument dedicated to the memory of Queen Victoria. Opened in 1921, it is now a tourist attraction and museum, housing a collection of rare colonial memorabilia.
There are so many temples you can explore on your trip to Kolkata and it can be hard to decide where to start. Birla Temple, Kalighat and Dakshineswar are all havens of tranquillity in the heart of this frenetic city.
Take a boat cruise or tuk-tuk ride to see more of the city up close. Make sure you stroll through the Barbazar; some of the city's most chaotic streets are here, filled with rickshaws and traders.
A day trip to the Botanical Gardens is a pleasant escape from the sights and sounds of the city centre. Opened in 1786, the gardens cultivated tea long before it became a popular drink. Cricket fans visiting Kolkata between April and May can pick up tickets for the Indian Premier League. The home team, Kolkata Knight Riders, play at Eden Garden.
Kolkata has always been famed for its restaurants, which many claim are the best in India. In the Esplanade, you'll find eateries that are more than a century old.
Authentic Indian and Bengali restaurants offer affordable dining and plenty of flavour. Kolkata specialities include mughlai paratha (bread stuffed with minced meat) and rosogolla (cheese balls dipped in sugary syrup). In fact, sweets from this region are famous throughout India, and readily available at local bakeries and sweet shops across the city.
Bengali cuisine features plenty of fish, and macher jhol (fish in curry sauce) or hilsa (mustard-marinated steamed fish) are dishes you must try. The city is also home to many excellent vegetarian restaurants. For vegetarian snacks, street food vendors serve thal muri (puffed rice with vegetables and spices).
When you travel to Kolkata, prepare to purchase eastern Indian handicrafts, leather goods and saris, as well as tins of rosogolla for friends back home. For designer goods and fashion, the malls are hard to beat: City Centre Mall and South City Mall are home to international brands.
If it's a more authentic local shopping experience you're looking for, Dakshinapan Shopping Centre is the place to find local handicrafts, fabrics and souvenirs. Check out the Ankur Kala Shop, which sells batik, leather goods and embroideries made by local women.
Wandering around the city's markets is a great way to spend an afternoon, if you are looking for bargains. Chandni Market sells gadgets and electronics, while Treasure Island is the place to find cosmetics and fashion at low prices.
Essential facts about Kolkata
Enjoy a hassle-free journey with all the information you need to know before your trip