Esplanade is the heart of Kolkata. It consists of the region just north of the Maidan and includes Dalhousie Square with all its colonial British buildings. The district takes a visitor back to the Raj-era with nostalgic overtones. Many of the city's important buildings are located here.
As Esplanade is very central buses from all over the city are going here frequently.
- Shyamoli Paribahan, 10 Marquis St, ☎ +91 98 3123 9007 (). 6AM and 7AM departures 12 hr journey. Buses to Bangladesh. Rs 650 for earlier and later departures respectively.
You have 3 stations to choose from.
- Esplanade. Located on the Northern tip of Chowringhee, near the Oberoi hotel. Convenient for visiting the Birla museum.
- Chandni Chowk. Good access to Dalhousie Square.
- Central. Located just outside College Street and the Calcutta University.
Calcutta was once nicknamed the City of Palaces. This comes from the numerous palatial mansions built all over the city. During the British colonial era from 1700-1912, when Calcutta was the capital of British India, Calcutta witnessed a spate of frenzied construction activity of buildings largely influenced by the conscious intermingling of Gothic, Baroque, Roman, Oriental and Islamic schools of design. Unlike many north Indian cities, whose construction stresses minimalism, the layout of much of the architectural variety in Calcutta owes its origins to European styles and tastes imported by the British and, to a much lesser extent, the Portuguese and French. The buildings were designed, and inspired by the tastes of the English gentleman around and the aspiring Bengali Babu (literally a nouveau riche Bengali who aspired to cultivation of English etiquette, manners and custom as such practices were favorable to monetary gains from the British). Today many of these structures are in various stages of decay. Some of the major buildings of this period are well maintained and several buildings have been declared as heritage structures. Conservation efforts are often affected by problems of litigation, tenant troubles, ownership disputes, old tenancy laws and a lack of funds.
- Indian Museum — J.L. Nehru Rd. ☎ +91 33 2249 5699, (Fax:+91 33 249 5696), . Established in 1814, this was the first such museum in Asia. Among its famous collection is the urn that held the ashes of the Buddha (though this is generally not on display), an Ashoka pillar (the three-lion symbol from which became the official emblem of the Republic of India) and numerous rare antiques. Closed on Mondays. Admission: Rs 10 (for Indians) Rs 150 (for non-Indians).
- BBD Bagh — Government House, Calcutta, built in the early 19th century, is modelled on Kedleston Hall. The House was once the seat of the Viceroys of India; later, when the Government moved to New Delhi, it became the residence of the Governor of Bengal, a function that it fulfills to this day. While the basic features of Kedleston have been faithfully copied (the Palladian Front, the Dome etc.), Government House is a much larger, three storied structure. Also, the Government of India evidently did not have the funding constraints that forced the Curzons to leave their house incomplete: Government House has all four wings originally conceived for Kedleston. So today, a 'complete', brick built Kedleston, on a much grander scale, is set in acres of gardens at the heart of the Calcutta business district.
- Mahabodhi Society of India — 4A Bankim Chatterjee St (near College St). ☎ +91 33 2219 9294. A small, but interesting Theravedan Buddhist temple located in an historic building. There is a library and shrine room on the second floor. Meditation classes are held every 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month.
- Bauddha Dharmankur Sabha — 1 Buddhist Temple St, (near the Indian Airways head office). ☎ +91 33 2211 7138. A Buddhist monastery established in 1892 and run by the Bengal Buddhist Association. The distinct red building mostly consists of a school and a guest house. There is a very small Buddhist shrine tucked away on the 1st floor.
- The Reserve Bank of India
- The Raj Bhavan — the Governor's Residence, .
- Vidyasagar Setu — popularly known as second Hooghly Bridge
- Eden Gardens — These pleasant gardens are located to the north of the Maidan and are the venue for international cricket matches. They were designed by Emily and Fanny Eden in 1841. At the northern corner lies the
- Burmese Pavilion — set in a small lake, which was brought from Burma by Lord Dalhousie in 1854
- Nakhoda Mosque — the largest mosque in Kolkata
- Chowringee, the so called Esplanade, is the market place of Kolkata. You will find shops ranging from Computer Peripherals to cloth merchants. Even tailors and a few famous Movie theaters too. This place is a favourite destination for local people.
- Sir Stuart Hogg Market, more commonly called New Market, is a good place to sample Indian sweet delicacies and generally soak up the atmosphere of Kolkata. There are also a few handicraft stalls inside. The market is in a large red brick building on Lindsay Street (the road parallel with Sudder Street to the north). You'll know when you are getting close to the market when approached by the very persistent touts employed by the market handicraft stalls.
- Park Street, is a busy and popular shopping district with upscale shops and bookstores and some international brands such as Levi's, Nike and Adidas among others.
- Oxford Book Store, 15 Park St, ☎+91 33 2229 5455, . A large and well organized bookstore. Great selection of books on India and by Indian writers. Check out the discount books and cafe (Cha Bar - see Drink section) on the second floor.
- Handicrafts, Jawaharal Nehru St, (between Sudder St and Surendra Rd), has several stores selling handicrafts. The largest is on the corner of Surendra Nath Banerjee Rd.
- Free School Street', (Mirza Ghalib St) is famous for its second hand bookshops and second hand record stalls. Rummage through the LPs for sale on the street and you'll find some real gems from the jazz age.
- Eagle, 12/2 Lindsay Street (in front on New Market), ☎ +91 33 98 023 6663. A good place to pick up Indian art movies. (22.5594257,88.3527538)
- Music World, 18G, Park St. Good place to pick up audio CDs and DVDs - everything from Indian classical to Hindi pop and independents to Bollywood.
- Blue Sky Cafe, (off Sudder St). The food is cheap, the place is clean and service is incredible. Great if you are on an extended stay as they offer both Indian and some Western food. Try the fresh squeezed juices. Exclusively western clientele, and no Indian dishes (almost toast only) for breakfast, before 11:30.
- Jyoti Vihar, Ho Chi Min Sarani, ☎ +91 33 2282 9791. Offers clean, tasty and cheap South Indian food. It is completely vegetarian. It is on the same street as the US Consulate.
- Nizam's, New Market. A Calcutta institution for over a 100 yr. An unpretentious place that is famous for 'Muslim' food and lays claim to be the place where Kathi Rolls were invented, it is still considered to make the best ones.
- Chung-Wah, Chittaranjan Ave. One of the oldest and best places to sample Indian/Chinese food.
- Fresh & Juicy, 2/1 Sudder St. Tasty and cheap Indian, Italian, Chinese meals and Western style breakfasts.
- Khalsa, Madge Lane (on left side when entering Madge Ln. from Sudder St) offers excellent and cheap Punjabi food.
- Zurich, Sudder St. Popular with Westerners, the food is cheap, though nothing special.
- Curd Corner, Sudder St, (next to Zurich). This small hole in the wall eatery is quite an institution in the area, and a generation of travellers have gorged themselves on the fresh and thick yoghurt. Check out the filter coffee and 'mock' cappuccino. Service staff don't speak English, which makes it hard when their menu is itself in English.
- Raj's Spanish Cafe, 7 Sudder St (hard to find alleyway entrance close to intersection Mirza Ghalib St), ☎ +91 33 4001 4373. 8AM-10PM. Recently expanded cafe that only the locals foreigners seem to really know. Breakfast and more importantly a little coffee machine that pumps out the cappuccino steadily. mains Rs 100.
- Mission Cafe, 20 Ganesh Chandra Ave. Vegetarian fast food spot. Dosa, chaats and curry served at high tables. The cafe is known for its chola-bhatura, a chickpea dish served in a phuchka shell. Turnover fast here, not even stools to sit on, but it is nonetheless tasty. (22.5686778,88.3549275)
- Kathleen's. Free School St, (Mirza Ghalib Street). Pastry shop and an ecelectic mix of cuisines dominated by Indian and Chinese styles.
- Flury's, 18 Park St, ☎ +91 33 2229 7664, . Tu-Su 7AM-8PM, M 10AM-6PM. A popular and stylish cafe serving a good variety of baked goods and various coffees, sandwiches and entrees. A great place for breakfast or lunch. Baked goods Rs 30-50, drinks Rs 30, meals Rs 100-300.
- Kwality, 17 Park St, (next to Oxford Book Shop). Been around for years with sharply dressed waiters serving tasty tandoori and north Indian food to well-off locals. Mains from Rs 100. Try their Chhola-bhatura.
- Peter Cat, 18 Park St, ☎ +91 33 2229 8841. Very popular for its chello kababs. However, their service has not received the best reviews. Serves Indian, tandoori and Continental fare.
- Mocambo, 25B Mirza Ghalib St, ☎ +91 33 2265 4300. Same owners as Peter Cat, but here the cuisine is a bit more rounded. Continental, Indian and even some Chinese dishes served in upscale surrounds. mains Rs 100-300. (22.4876295,88.3855414)
- Indian Coffee House, 1F, 15 Bankim Chatterjee St (just off College St), ☎ +91 33 2241 4869. A venerable old establishment run by the Indian Coffee Workers Co-op Society. The high ceilings, peeling paintwork, skylights and workers in traditional uniform create an image straight out of a 20 or 30s movie. In addition, the coffee is good and cheap.
- Fruit juice, is available in the New Market area. Try some of the spicy fruit juices.
- Cha Bar, 2nd floor, Oxford Book Store, Park Street (see Buy section). A modern and chic cafe with a great selection of teas, including herbal, smoothies and coffee. A large window offers views of street life below, while the books provide a literary dimension. Cha Bar is an excellent place for a budding writer or a day dreamer.
- Handicrafts and Coffee Shop, 1F., 44 Free School Rd. A bright and cheerful coffee shop that uses proceeds from sales to fund projects offering vocational training to street kids. Great atmosphere, good cakes, but unfortunately only serving instant coffee. Handicrafts are made by former street kids.
- T3 Tea Table Shop, 57A Park St, (corner of Free School St), A venerable institution dating back to the days of the Raj - heavy, sticky cakes are a specialty. When the Flurry's was renovated and the menu modernized a few years ago, this place was set up by the same owners to preserve some of the old favourites and ambiance from the 'old' Flury's.
- Rallis, J.L. Nehru Rd. Excellent sherbets.
- Broadway Hotel, Ganesh Chandra Ave, (Ganesh Chandra exit at Chandni metro station.). Recommended for a glimpse of a bygone era. Also one of the few places which serves beer with a plate of sliced cucumber.
- Streetlife, (entrance to Park Hotel). The universal colors of chic decor, black and red, are used extensively to give this cafe a warm but modern feel. Good selection of coffees and healthy snacks opposed to what the name might make you think. This cafe is about as far from representing Kolkata street life as you could possibly get. Makes a good alternative to the ubiquitous Baristas and Coffee Days.
- Super Pub, Sudder St (oposite of Fire Station). Air-Conditioned and clean place. Serves beer and hard liquor and seasonal fruit juice. Snacks and eateries are reasonably priced.
- Fairlawn Beer Garden, 13/A Sudder St (inside Hotel Fairlawn), ☎ +91 33 2252 1510, . Only serves beer. Eccentric atmosphere with greenery everywhere. Famous among travellers and volunteers. Great place for meeting people and early evening drinking. Snacks and dinner available.
Park Street (aka Mother Teresa Sarani)
- Hotel Maria, 5/1 Sudder St, ☎ +91 33 2252 0860. Basic rooms with attached bathroom (Rs 250) and also dormitory beds with shared bathroom (Rs 80)
- Paragon Hotel, 2 Stuart Lane (off Sudder St), ☎ + 91 33 2252 2445. Recently under new management which refuses to pay the union wages that were previously paid. Rather loud dormitory next to rather loud reception area for Rs 120. You get plenty of action nearby
- Hotel Modern Lodge, 1 Stuart Ln (off Sudder Street), ☎ +91 33 2252 4960. Not very modern, but cheap and fairly clean. Rs 150 for single with shared cold-water bathroom. Rs 100-250.
- Mahabodhi Society of India, 4A Bankim Chatterjee Road (near College St), ☎ +91 33 2219-9294. The guesthouse is part of Buddhist Monastery, and although simple has a lot of character. Rs 250 room with private bathroom, Rs 150 for room with communal bathroom; Rs 60 dormitory.
- Broadway Hotel, 27A Ganesh Chandra Ave, Chandni Chowk, ☎ +91 33 22363930 (, [email protected]), . Nothing much judging from the exterior, but its popularity means you won't necessarily get a room if you don't book first. Upper triple rooms have balconies. Rs600. (22.5663838,88.3577578)
- Hotel Jaapon, 30F Mirza Galib St (also called Free School St (at the end of Sudder St), ☎ +91 33 2252 0657, +91 33 2252 0658. A bright and cheerful hotel with excellent service. All rooms have attached bathrooms (with good plumbing), cableTV and A/C. Rooms on the right directly face a broad tree that allows a rich dappled light to fill the rooms - especially pleasant at sunrise. Singles Rs 650, doubles Rs 1200.
- Astoria Hotel, Sudder St, ☎ +91 33 2252 9679 ([email protected]), . Clean, large, albeit drab, rooms with private bathrooms. Rs 1,000-1,250 +10% tax.
- Fairlawn Hotel, 13/A Sudder St., ☎ +91 33 2252 1510, +91 33 2252 8767 ([email protected]), . a relic of the British Raj and oozing with charm and character. Single:US$50 (full board) US$45 (with breakfast) double/twin:US$60 (full board) US$55 (with breakfast).
- Hotel Royal Palace, 30F (also called Free School St), ☎ +91 33 2252 5280, +91 33 2252 4178. Clean and large A/C & non-A/C rooms with private bath, color TV, STD/ISD. Rs 350-750.
- YMCA, 25 Jawaharlal Neru Rd (near corner with Sudder St), ☎ +91 33 2249-2192 ([email protected]), . An extremely drab and dark hotel that appears not to have received a lick of paint since its founding in the mid 19th century. However, in someways, that is the hotel's distinctive charm, and so it may appeal to strict traditionalists. There is a simple restaurant on the second floor. The food is nothing special, but the balcony offers a great view of the buzzing city below. Non A/C single Rs 600, with A/C Rs 850.
- Hotel Lindsay, 8A/8B Lindsay St (Near Globe Cinema Hall, nearby Transit: Esplanade Metro Station), ☎ +91 33 3021 8666 (s[email protected]), . The hotel is well lit and clean. The hotel was recently renovated and its facilities, including a room minibar, hot water, tea and coffee, make it a good value four star property. New market is right on the door step, and provides plenty of local interaction right on the doorstep. Rs 4,600 std dbl. (22.5594257,88.3527538)
- Sunflower Guest House, 7 Royd St (200 m away intersection Park St and Free school St), ☎ +91 33 2229 9401 (, [email protected]), . Clean and great location. Those who tote lots of luggage be warned there are stairs to climb to top floor reception. Rs 1,350 std dbl. (22.5525257,88.3560687)
- Esplanade Chambers, 2 Chandney Chowk St (40 m off GC Ave), ☎ +91 33 2212 7101 (, [email protected]), . Very clean and reasonably quiet rooms, albeit not massive. Rs 1,500 dbl, Rs 1,800 deluxe.
- DK international Hotel, 11/1A Marquis St, ☎ +91 33 2252 2540 (, [email protected]), . All rooms A/C and breakfast included. Close to the Bangladesh bus stations. There are better deals out there but not quite as new as this place. Dbl from Rs 1,800+tax.
- Oberoi Grand Hotel, 15 Jawaharlal Nehru Rd, (Chowringhee Road), ☎ +91 33 2249 2323, . One of the great hotels of the Raj, the Grand has been the last word in luxury for all of its 125+ years. A surprisingly quiet oasis in one of the busiest streets in the world. US$375-1,375.
- The Park Hotel, 17 Park St, ☎ +91 33 2249 3121 (fax: +91 33 2249 4000), . The unassuming exterior hides an elegant and homely interior with stylish Indian features.
- Bawa Watson Spa'o'tel, 5A Sudder St, ☎ +91 33 2252 1512 (, [email protected]). An upscale new venue that's breaking the trend from the Sudder St backpacker tide. Rs 3,000 std dbl 29 rooms.
- Hotline Services, 7 Sudder St, (near the Astoria Hotel, at the back of the parking lot between Roop Shringar clothing shop and Metro Beauty Parlour. Identified with a large illuminated sign in red) has a room jam packed with high speed computers, and charges Rs 15/hr. They also sell CDs of various styles of Indian music for around Rs 150/each, and have a selection of hand-woven material and cotton clothing from all over India. Hotline also provides a coffee and snack service.
There are other smaller internet cafes on Sudder Street such as Net Freaks, but they are often very busy.