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Kolkata, the cultural capital of India, is a mass of humanity, crumbling buildings and frantic streets. Although the city contains some of the finest remnants of British colonial architecture, it is Bengali through and through. This is particularly apparent from its well-deserved reputation as India's friendliest city. Bengalis, recognized as the artists and poets of India, imbue the chaotic streets with soul and the humor of the inhabitants is legendary. Traffic, though, is nothing short of brutal - be prepared to wait out frequent traffic jams and huge trade union rallies which can block traffic in the city center, adding to the mayhem on ...

Kolkata, the cultural capital of India, is a mass of humanity, crumbling buildings and frantic streets. Although the city contains some of the finest remnants of British colonial architecture, it is Bengali through and through. This is particularly apparent from its well-deserved reputation as India's friendliest city. Bengalis, recognized as the artists and poets of India, imbue the chaotic streets with soul and the humor of the inhabitants is legendary. Traffic, though, is nothing short of brutal - be prepared to wait out frequent traffic jams and huge trade union rallies which can block traffic in the city center, adding to the mayhem on the roads. A good antidote to the urban stress is a stroll through the Maidan, the "lungs" of the city, especially in the early morning or evening. The Botanical Gardens, situated on the west bank of the Hooghly River, offer similar respite and a 200-year-old banyan tree with the second largest canopy in the world (1,300 feet in circumference). And don't miss the Victoria Memorial, containing the largest collection of British-India memorabilia in the country, including scenes from the 1857 uprising.

Alan Murphy
About the Expert

Alan Murphy is coauthor of Lonely Planet's Britain, Scotland, India and North India. He has been writing and updating travel guidebooks for the past 12 years.

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Alan Murphy for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Kolkata (Calcutta) is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. It is located in eastern India on the east bank of the River Hooghly.
  • Language: Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati, Malayala
  • Currency: Indian Rupee
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Cool season, November to March