Kolkata is a small city, geographically. It is only 1/8th of the size of the capital, New Delhi and the main city is even smaller. However, Kolkata has so much more than you might have read on those travel blogs or what the travel packages of Yatra might offer. There are so many things to see which Google wouldn’t tell you. Sometimes, even your tour guide wouldn’t tell you because they think those places don’t deserve mention or because not many people ask them, the tour guides, to take them there. There lies the mysterious Kolkata, the unseen Kolkata, the Kolkata which you need to ‘explore’, not visit.
Shobhabazar Rajbari: Shobhabazaar Royal Palace would be a literal translation but Nabakrishna Deb was more of a super rich landlord with wealth generating from questionable sources. However, the palace he built in Shobhabazaar is amazing and you wouldn’t find a better combination of Indian and British architecture in Kolkata.
This is a saat-mahala house which means the interior of the house is divided into seven sections, ladies’ wing, drawing room etc., servants’ quarters and more. There is a thakur dalan, supported by seven really tall pillars. This is almost 250 years old but due to proper maintenance, has kept much of its original charm intact. You can visit the palace during Durga Puja, in October, when it’s open for the general public.
Kolkata Town Hall: Built in 1813, by architect and engineer Maj.-Gen. John Garstin, in Roman Doric style, the town hall cost no less than 700,000 rupees in those days! The result was amazing though, it is one of the most beautiful structures in Kolkata but sadly none, neither the manager of your hotel in Kolkata nor the tour guide you hire, would recommend it. It was utterly neglected in independent India because it was a symbol of British occupation! In fact, this magnificent building was almost ruined and the Kolkata High Court had to intervene to save it. Presently, Kolkata Corporation has done an appreciable job of restoring the former glory of this building and it houses a library on Kolkata, containing the rarest books and diaries on Kolkata and you can check out the magnificent history of Kolkata here. While, booking a hotel through Yatra, you can search a one near Town Hall.
Paramount House: Why only visit when you can eat and drink as well. Paramount is quenching the thirst of Kolkata for 100 years now and their sorbets and drinks (strictly non-alcoholic) is a must for you to try out. You might have drunk a lot many things in different restaurants and 5 star hotels in Kolkata, but I bet you will forget everything else when you take a sip at Paramount. Located at a not “so easily accessible” place at the back end of College Street, it is frequented by many who know the taste of their drinks.
Their price list is all set to surprise you because you wouldn’t believe that such heavenly manna is available for 50c or so. Their list is very, very long and you might be confused with the choice. The best thing to do here is to request them for a speciality. But then, each of their drinks is special, trust me.
Hastings House: One of the oldest buildings in Kolkata, it had seen better days when it housed the Governor General of India, Lord Warren Hastings. This place is now a Women’s College, under Kolkata University. If you are a fan of haunted places and spooky incidents, this is where you should go with many students complaining of inexplicable incidents in this building. In specific, there is an Englishman on a horse who supposedly asks for some lost files! This is in Alipore and you can get there easily.
Babu Ghat: Ghat is translated by American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language as “A broad flight of steps leading down to the bank of a river in India, used especially by bathers.” but the ghats on Ganga are much more than that. This is where Kolkata used to come for their afternoon and evening pleasures, then bathe in Ganga or sit in the breeze to have a respite from the oppressive heat. With Kolkata losing the use of Ghats, these ghats are now often neglected but Babu Ghat is a must see. You can see the vast Ganga flowing, the breeze, the local sellers and a true picture of old laid-back Kolkata.