Aug 13, 2012
Moving About in Kolkata
One can opt to get down at Howrah station or, as a good alternative, get down at Santragachi station. Santragachi is less than 20 minutes away from Howrah, but trains are akin to get stuck in traffic on this stretch and you can save over half an hour sometimes if you get down there.
Bottom line: If you plan on using public transportation, get down at Santragachi.
Ok, so you have arrived in Kolkata. Now what? Do you have a friend with you who knows the ins and outs of the city roads? Whether yes or no, here’s a lowdown on the transport situation of India’s largest city:
The ubiquitous yellow ambassadors are your best option to move about if you are a part of a large group where people can share the cost. Cabs go anywhere and everywhere, however, the tendency of the drivers to stick to the fare chart is inversely proportional to the amount of ambient sunlight and the distance of travel.Confused? Cabs charge extra for long journeys late in the day.
The best way to travel cheaply, provided you don’t mind the jerks and can remain standing with the tenacity of a rugby player when you don’t get a seat. Buses take time to reach their destination, but the dramatically low fares as compared to cabs are a very good incentive to board buses.
Whether you get down at Santragachi or Howrah, you can take a bus (or a cab) to Exide, where the Rabindra Sadan metro station is located.Kolkata was the first city in India to run metros and right now, the only metro line extends in a north-south direction. An east-west metro line is being built, which will have Howrah as a station. Metros are fast and really cheap, but many city attractions don’t fall on the main metro line as of now.
Rickshaws and autorickshaws:
These 3-wheeled vehicles are useful for travelling small distances. Autos are faster than buses and are cheap, but they aren’t meant for a large group. Rickshaws can traverse lanes and by-lanes which autos and buses cannot, but my God, are they slow.
Of Shopaholics and Gourmands
Formerly known as Sir Stuart Hogg Market, this Lindsay Street landmark is situated close to Esplanade Metro Station and contains some of the oldest and most r enowned shops sinc e pr e -Independence times. The mainmarket consists of numerouscorridors, lined with shops on both sides, that converge to a central point siting a refreshment stall. Before the mall culture set in, this market was frequented by shopaholics of all sorts. Even today, the shops selling apparel, accessories, souvenirs and household items both inside and outside the market offer a good bargain. Sriram Arcade houses a number of boutiques that keep up with the latest trends in apparel. For one who wishes to check out ethnic wear, Treasure Island is the place to be. The market also has several single-screen theatres like Globe and New Empire Cinema.
A journey of about 45 minutes from the station will get you to the heart of fine dining in Kolkata, christened by the British as Park Street. Apart from boasting of several fast food outlets such as Domino’s, McDonald’s and KFC, Park Street contains a large number of speciality restaurants. There’s Peter Cat with their classic sizzler preparation,Marco Polo that serves rare Chinese delicacies, Mocambo and its wonderful continental cuisine and Bar-B-Q, bursting at its seams on Saturday night owing to its sheer popularity. So the next time you grow tired of mess food, don’t just hop on to your cycle and head over to the nearest KGP eatery. Get your friends together, catch a train and explore the wonders of Park Street restaurants with their varied cuisines and the excellent ambience.
Mani Square Mall
Where: 164/1, Manicktalla Main Road, Kolkata
How to reach: 40 minutes by car from Howrah Station
Movie Theatre: Cinemax
Food: Aqua Java, Flame and Grill, McDonald’s, Haka
Stores: Westside, United Colors of Benetton, Levis, Adidas, Reebok
Gaming Zone: Amoeba
Forum and Forum Courtyard
Where: 10/3 Lala Lajpat Rai Sarani, Elgin Road, Bhawanipore
Time to reach: Walking distance from Exide (Rabindra Sadan Metro Station)
Movie Theatre: INOX
Food: Oh! Calcutta, Spaghetti Kitchen, Burp! (Food Court)
Stores: (Forum:)Shoppers’ Stop, United Colors of Benetton;(Forum Courtyard:)Mango, Latin Quarters
Gaming Zone: Timbuktoo
South City Mall
Where: 375 Prince Anwar Shah Rd, Jadavpur
How to reach: 10 mins by auto from Rabindra Sarobar Metro Station
Movie Theatre: Fame
Food: Food Talk (Food Court), KFC, Pizza Hut, Subway,Mainland China, Flame and Grill, Sarson
Stores: Shoppers’ Stop, Pantaloons, Starmark and other major brand retail stores
Gaming Zone: Timezone
Where: 32 Jagat Banerjee Ghat Road, Howrah
Time to reach: 10 minutes by car from Howrah Station
Movie Theatre: PVRCinemas
Food: Flury’s, KFC, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Subway
Stores: Pantaloons, Big Bazaar, Levi’s
This building, dedicated to Queen Victoria, serves as a museum and one of the major tourist attractions in Kolkata. The architecture is imposing and the standout feature is the elegant statue of the Queen at the apex of the entire structure. There is a reflecting pool in front and magnificent gardens all around, which double up as a place to really excite your love hormones when you are out there with someone special.Getting there : From Howrah station, take any bus which will go down Hospital Road or Casuarina Avenue. Indian Museum – The Indian Museum in Chowringhee, Kolkata, is the largest museum in India. Roaming through its large halls and eerie corridors is an ideal way to spend a day lost in history. The museum boasts of rare collections of antiques, fossils, mummies and Mughal paintings. Some of the more interesting rooms are the one featuring Egyptian exhibits, the one dedicated to Buddhism where there is a stone imprint of Buddha’s foot, and a gigantic hall full of intimidating skeletons.
Getting there : Once you reach Howrah, get up on any bus which goes to Rabindra Sadan via Park Street.
The Indian Museum in Chowringhee, Kolkata, is the largest museum in India. Roaming through its large halls and eerie corridors is an ideal way to spend a day lost in history. The museum boasts of rare collections of antiques, fossils, mummies and Mughal paintings. Some of the more interesting rooms are the one featuring Egyptian exhibits, the one dedicated to Buddhism where there is a stone imprint of Buddha’s foot, and a gigantic hall full of intimidating skeletons.
Getting there: Once you reach Howrah, get up on any bus which goes to Rabindra Sadan via Park Street.
If giving your adrenaline a roller-coaster jerk is the aim, then Nicco Park is the destination. With a huge assortment of rides, newly installed water-themed park, shopping and food outlets, Nicco Park is the perfect place for the Kgpians’ day out.
Getting there: A taxi drive costing roughly Rs.130 from Howrah takes you to Jheel Meel, the place which proudly situates this monument of excitement.
What is more exciting than thrashing into sparkling clear water? Aquatica, the 8 acre water theme park in Rajarhat, Kolkata provides you what you might call an absolute exhilarating watery experience. The park provides you with numerous water rides, most famous among which are the Black Hole, the Wave Pool, Niagara Falls, Tornado and the Aqua Dance Floor.
Getting there: 12/C bus takes you to Aquatica from Howrah in an hour. If you want to avoid the long bus journey, cabs are always an option.
Science City, the largest science center in the sub-continent, can be found in JBS Haldane Avenue, Kolkata. The ‘city’ with its evergreen Science Park, enthralling Space Odyssey, kindling Dynamotion, insightful Evolution Theme Park and the Maritime Centre is capable of providing the ultimate holiday delight, besides intellectually tickling the science-initiated minds.
Getting there : Science City can be reached after a 40 minutes taxi drive (of course, we have hugely neglected the chances of any traffic delay due to jams which is not very uncommon).
A newspaper reporter once called this ground ‘the greatest amphitheatre of cricket.’ One still remembers the delirious scenes in 2001 when Bhajji spun India to one of her most famous Test wins after following on. Welcome to Eden Gardens, home to some of the most fascinating encounters that have taken place on the cricket pitch. Situated in the heart of Kolkata, this 68,000 (earlier 90,000) capacity stadium is where you will be going whenever you want a taste of the excitement that only comes from watching your favourite cricketing stars perform at shouting distance.
Getting there : Catch a bus from Howrah station and get down at Akashbani Bhavan. This is one corner of Eden Gardens.
Escape to Paradise
Gangtok, popularly meaning ‘hill top’, is the capital of the least populous and arguably the most beautiful state in the country – Sikkim. Nestled in the Shiwalik Hills at a height of more than 1,400m, the city is an important Buddhist pilgrimage centre. Some places to visit are the Rumtek and Enchey monasteries and the Tsomgo Lake. The city is the gateway to the Nathu-la pass and other exotic places like Lachung and Lachen in North Sikkim.
Getting there : One can take a train to New Jalpaiguri or a flight from Kolkata to the Bagdogra airport in Siliguri. Once there, Gangtok is a 5 hour jeep journey away.
This Himalayan city is located at the extreme north of West Bengal, at an altitude of more than 2,000m. The city can be considered to be the tea capital of India and a major part of Darjeeling tourism are its tea gardens. Another tourism icon is the historic Darjeeling-Himalayan railway, where narrow guage toy trains ply up and down the mountains. The Himalayan Zoological Park and the Bengal Natural History Museum are other places to visit.
Getting there : As with Gangtok, take a train to New Jalpaiguri or a flight to Siliguri. A 3 hour journey by road will get you to Darjeeling.
Best time to visit Gangtok and Darjeeling – September to May.
The Sands, the Beaches & You!
Being a coastal district of Orissa, it is famous for its historic antiquities, religious sanctuaries, architectural grandeur, seascape beauty and moderate climate. Puri holds a wealth of attraction for the visitors. It boasts of a continuous history from the 3rd Century B.C. to the present day and its unique monuments like those of Lord Jagannath at Puri and the Sun God at Konark are internationally famous. It has the Chilika Lake, the largest brackish water lakes in India that holds a picturesque seascape beauty. It offers an ideal resort for birds which migrate from different parts of the continent. By virtue of its geographical location, the climate of Puri is equable throughout the year.
Getting There: To reach Puri, the best option is boarding a train but not without reservation. It will take you six hours and a half on an express train. Do not forget to book a room in one of the hotels before you leave.
A recently developed beach resort in East Midnapore, it boasts of a 13 km long motorable beach, probably the longest in India. On the beach you will undoubtedly get the chance to feel the divinity and tranquility. If that is not enough to please your senses, then try to roll on the sand and listen to the waves crashing upon the shore, which will surely drive away your bustling pressure. With sun and surf, pristine sea and untrammeled silt coloured sand, this beach is slowly becoming popular among the tourists.Pack your bag with light cotton clothes to avoid the heat. Don’t miss out on carrying sunscreen lotion, as it will help you to minimise the risks of excessive tanning. Before you set out for a drive on the motorable beach, gather information on high tides, because during high tides the water reaching up to the beach level might prove dangerous.
Getting there : If you take a car, the beach is roughly a 3 to 3.5 hour journey.
It is a small hamlet which has emerged as a popular weekend getaway with a number of good hotels and tourist lodges. Digha is a seaside resort town in East Midnapore. It is probably the most popular sea resort in Bengal, famous for the two beaches it showcases. Digha’s old beach isn’t as wide as it used to be due to heavy soil erosion. Big stones and concrete steps are used to hold together the beach. Another problem is the record number of tidal waves that have caused many of the unplanned shacks and smaller hotels to succumb to the sea. Since it is one of very few popular beaches in West Bengal, it gets overcrowded, especially during the cooler winter break.A new beach has been developed at New Digha, which is about 2 km from the old beach. This new beach is not only bigger than the old one, but might be considered a better one. It is clean and well-maintained and is not surrounded by a congested locality like the older beach. There are hotels within a walking distance from the beach here. The locality itself seems to be better planned.
Getting there : If you want to reach there, get a cab and enjoy the three and a half hour journey; the larger the group, the merrier it gets.