Sunrise to Sunset in Kolkata - Personal Travel Itinerary

Formerly known as Calcutta, Kolkata is more than just a city; it is an embodiment of cultural heritage. My origins trace back to West Bengal, and prior to my relocation to Delhi, I immersed myself in Kolkata for a fulfilling six months, ultimately developing an affection for its cultural opulence and culinary trends (once a foodie, always a foodie). Over time, the city has evolved, yet it retains its roots steadfastly.

How I reached Kolkata for my jaunt?

I had planned to go to a wedding in Phusro (Jharkhand), which was approximately a 7-hour train journey from Howrah. Instead of opting for any Jharkhand station, I opted for a return train to Delhi from Howrah, and it turned out to be a successful decision. I participated in the wedding ceremony, rested the entire day since my train from Phusro to Howrah station was scheduled for 9:00 PM. After enjoying a state-specific dinner, I headed to the railway station, boarded the train, and went to sleep immediately, anticipating an adventurous and long morning ahead.

Around 05:00 AM, I arrived at my destination, relieved despite my train's delay. Making a beeline for Howrah station's cloakroom (note: remember to bring your locks and keys, as they don't accept bag-attached auto-locks), I declared my bag and obtained the receipt. Exiting the station, I indulged in a steaming cup of kulhad tea, locally known as bhad-er-cha, a treat I had longed for during my years in Delhi. Given the December timeframe, I had ample time before sunrise, allowing me to explore the entire station and its vicinity. Everywhere I looked, a bustling crowd was diligently organizing heaps of newspapers for distribution across the city. Stalls offering eggs and buns (dimb-paurooti) caught my eye, and I couldn't resist, as these local rectangular breads are a Kolkata essential.

At approximately 6:30 AM, the sky begins to take on tints and hues of orange, signaling the ideal moment to visit Howrah Ferry Ghat (Howrah jetty) situated on the opposite side of the Howrah Railway Station. This location offers a splendid and up-close perspective of Kolkata's iconic "Howrah Bridge," and witnessing its beauty during sunrise is truly an unparalleled experience—utterly breathtaking. After immersing myself in that moment for a while, I opted to relish puri-sabji (locally known as luchi-torkari) at one of the roadside eateries. These establishments offer the most affordable meals and tea, coupled with the added bonus of a spectacular view.

Howrah Jetty

Howrah Jetty, Kolkata

Time for a Ferry Ride: When in Kolkata, immerse yourself in the local lifestyle. The Hooghly river acts as a natural boundary, creating two distinct parts of the city. One side, known as Howrah, reflects the historical charm of old Kolkata, while the opposite side boasts a modernized, urban atmosphere. What seamlessly connects both areas is the extensive ferry service operating from various ghats along the riverbank. Numerous people rely on this economical mode of transportation daily, with ticket prices starting from Rs. 5.00.

If you find yourself in Kolkata, even if just for a day, experiencing a ferry ride is essential to truly grasp the city's authentic transformation. Don't miss the opportunity to witness the captivating beauty of the Howrah Bridge and Vidyasagar Setu, as they are sure to leave you exhilarated.

During my visit, I embarked on a ferry journey from Howrah jetty ghat to Millennium Park. Unfortunately, the park was closed at 8:00 AM, as it opens later at 10:00 AM. Despite this, the brief two-minute voyage to the other side was a magical experience, filled with the breathtaking beauty of nature and architectural wonders.

Indian Coffee House

What’s next? Having crossed the entire river, it's time to unwind and enjoy some coffee. Where to go for that extra special coffee? The answer lies somewhere on College Street. I wonder who isn't familiar with this 1.5 km long street in central Kolkata, renowned for its small and mega bookstores—there's no book in the world you can't find on these streets. But that's not all; there's an intellectual hub just opposite Presidency College, and all the famous intellectuals, whether Satyajit Ray, Amartya Sen, or Mrinal Sen, can be counted as regular visitors in their time.

Established in 1876, this place was a meeting point for the great leaders of independence. They've maintained the tradition, and there hasn't been much change in the menu and serving styles. This place offers the best of Bengali snacks and awesome coffee. If you smoke, this place has you covered because you can smoke at your table without anyone raising eyebrows (*blink*).

Indian coffee House, Kolkata

Victoria Memorial

Victria Memorial, Kolkata

Love for monuments and architecture, this place has it all: My next destination was the Victoria Memorial. If there is any Bollywood movie portraying Kolkata that hasn't featured this colossal marble palace, it's probably because this museum is truly a marvel to behold. Each day, thousands of tourists and locals flock to this site, seeking inspiration for contemporary architecture. Originally dedicated to Queen Victoria after her demise, this location has been transformed into a museum. It proudly showcases paintings by renowned artists from global history, alongside an array of weaponry, coins, and other historically significant artifacts. Enhancing its allure, there is an expansive garden and a lake where families can unwind and enjoy some quality time after exploring the museum.

Arsalan Restaurant And Caterer

Time to deal Hunger: Having absorbed all the information about the museum, the moment of hunger striking is inevitable, and it hits hard. After all, you're in Kolkata for just a few hours, and the options to explore are numerous. However, my priority was biryani, and I knew exactly where to go. The next destination on my list was Arsalan Restaurant in Park Circus, a 20-minute ride from Victoria Memorial, renowned for its exceptional biryani. If you inquire with anyone in Kolkata about their favorite biryani spot, the majority will unanimously point to Arsalan. Despite the usual crowd and a waiting time of at least 10 minutes, trust me, the moment you savor the biryani, it's absolutely worth it.

Asalan restaurant and caterer

Dharamtala Market

Dharamtala Market, Kolkata

Shopping Time: After indulging in the finest biryani up to the neck, it's time to head to Dharamtala (also known as Esplanade) for some pocket-friendly shopping of shoes, clothes, and bags. Dharamtala is renowned more for its affordable clothing, bags, and shoes starting as low as 100 bucks than for the prestigious five-star Oberoi Grand hotel. One must exercise caution while shopping in Dharamtala, especially not to be enticed by seemingly inexpensive yet high-end items like watches, sunglasses, makeup, and more. You might find a Rolex or Ray-Ban priced at just 100 bucks, but choose wisely.

Time to say goodbye: It's nearly evening, and my adventurous day in Kolkata is drawing to a close. What better way to conclude the trip and return to Howrah railway station than with some Puchka? Within 30 minutes, I found myself at Howrah station, wishing I could stay longer and delve deeper into the wonders of this incredible city.

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