The capital city of West
Bengal is a hub of heritage tourism in India. The many beautiful
buildings built by the British during colonial rule led to it being
called the ‘City of Palaces.’ The fine weather now is a good to time to explore many of these places.
The Victoria Memorial is a majestic domed structure in white
marble. It was built in memory of Queen Victoria in the early 20th
century. It is an 184-foot tall edifice constructed on 64 acres of land.
The total expenditure of building Victoria Memorial was around Rs
150,000,000. This magnificent structure was designed by Sir William
Emerson, and was inaugurated by the Prince of Wales. In the museum
inside, one can view photos of prominent personalities who made an
incredible contribution to the glory of India. The Victoria Memorial is
also one of the finest art museums in Kolkata.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
Paul's Cathedral is one of the most important relics of
religious architecture in Kolkata. The church took eight years to build,
and was finished in 1847. It was magnificently designed by Major
William Forbes, with the assistance of CK Robinson.
majestic religious building was a small mosque in the beginning. It was
in 1926 that Abdar Rahim Osman built the present structure. It was
constructed following the style of Akbar's tomb in Sikandra, which is a
piece of Indo-Saracenic architecture. The gateway of the mosque
resembles the Buland Darwaza at Fatehpur Sikri. For its construction,
granite stones were brought from Tolepur. Inside the Nakhoda Mosque
there is a fabulous exhibition of ornaments and art. It is the biggest
mosque in the city. More than 10,000 men can perform namaaz in the
prayer hall. In the centre of the premise is a dome and two minarets.
Armenian Church is unique in the sense that it was built by the
Armenian merchants who once formed an important trading community of
Kolkata. It was constructed in 1764. The internal walls are ornamented
with marble, while the overhead gallery has mural tablets. Three oil
paintings – 'The Holy Trinity,' 'The Last Supper' and 'The Enshrouding
of Our Lord' – by the English artist AE Harris add to the glory of the
altar. The ruins of the Armenian cemetery are there in the church premises.
Pareshnath Jain Temple
Jain Temple is located in the north-eastern part of the city. It is actually a
complex of four temples. The main shrine is dedicated to the 10th Jain avatar (incarnation of God), Sri Sital Nath Ji. The temple gateway is
really worth seeing. The temple is decorated with mirrors, coloured
stones and mosaics made of glass. It has a beautiful garden around it.
It has blocks of glass mosaics and European statues painted with silver
paint. Its construction was commissioned by Ray Badridas Bahadur in 1867. The aesthetic beauty and serenity
attracts tourists from across the globe. Another notable feature is a
lamp inside which burns with ghee and is never allowed to be extinguished.
St. Johns’ Church
iconic structure in the BBD Bag area was the first Anglican Church of
India. It has been designed in the style of London's popular St
Martin-in-the-Fields Church. The beautiful blend of steeple and portico
having columns has became the model of colonial church architecture with
time. Inside, there are several rare portraits of the late archbishops of
Canterbury. There is the notable painting of 'The Last Supper' by the
famous German painter Johann Zoffani. The cemetery inside houses the
graves of Job Charnock, Admiral Watson, Julius Imhoff and other
Marble Palace on Muktaram Babu Street is an exquisitely engineered
palatial mansion that was built by Raja Rajendra Mullick Bahadur, who
was one of the wealthiest landlords of Bengal, in 1835. Its
sheer magnificence and scintillating artistry captivates one and all. This architectural masterpiece uses Italian
marble extensively. The lush green lawn in front of it is clad with
statues of Hindu Gods, the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, the great explorer
Christopher Columbus, Lord Buddha and also some lions. Special attractions
of the Marble Palace include: a room decorated with mirrors containing
prized works of Ruben, Reynolds and others; a collection of 82 different
types of exquisite clocks; an elegant fountain in the midst of a serene lake in the north-eastern side.
Indian Museum is the largest museum in India. It has rare collections
of antiques, armours, ornaments, fossils, skeletons, mummies, and
Mughal paintings. It was founded as the Asiatic Society of Bengal in
1814. The founder curator was Dr Nathaniel Wallich, a Danish botanist.
Among its well-known exhibits are an Egyptian mummy, the Buddhist stupa from
Bharhut, ashes of the Buddha, an Ashoka pillar, whose four-lion symbol
became the official emblem of the Republic of India, fossil skeletons of
prehistoric animals, an art collection, rare antiques, and a collection
Shahid Minar or Ochterlony Monument, as it was originally called, was
built by Sir David Ochterlony in 1948 to immortalise his astounding
triumph in the Nepal War of 1814-1816. It was contrived by a famous
British architect JP Parker. There is an exquisite blend of Syrian,
Egyptian and Turkish engineering in its construction. Standing at
approximately 48 m, it is situated in the Maidan region in the heart of
Kolkata. At night, it is illuminated by a dazzling shower of bright
lights.A special pass from the Deputy Commissioner of Police at Lalbazar
is required to gain access to this tower.
you are familiar with Bengali culture and the works of the Nobel laureate,
Rabindranath Tagore, then the Jorasanko Thakurbari is a 'must-see.' The Thakurbari has been preserved meticulously. By seeing items of
daily use, such as kitchen utensils and bedroom arrangements, you can
feel a personal touch with the Renaissance era of Bengal. The displayed
artworks and photograph collections are invaluable.
The National Library is situated in the majestic Belvedere
estate on Belvedere Road, just opposite the Alipore Zoo. It is the
largest and oldest library in India. The entire estate area spans
around 30 acres, full of thick greenery and well-maintained parks.
The mail building is around 150 years old. This marvellous building of
the British era used to be the residence of the then Lieutenant General of Bengal.
Currently, the library has a collection of over 2.2 million books in different regional languages covering almost every possible subject and aspect.
Though busy roads full of chaotic
traffic circle this majestic estate, as soon as you enter it you can feel the silence and tranquility of nature which
automatically brings a peace of mind, keeping you totally engage in
undisturbed reading in this temple of knowledge.
William, or the citadel of Kolkata (then Calcutta), is named after King William III of
England. The British East India Company’s main Bengal trading station
was moved from Hooghly to Kolkata in 1690 after a war with the Mughals.
Between 1696 and 1702 a fort was built here, with the Nawab of
In 1756, the fort was captured by Sirāj
al-Dawlah, the Nawab of Bengal. After the recovery of the city (then a small town) in 1757, the
fort was demolished and a new one constructed farther south, with an
unobstructed field of fire. This latter fort, completed in 1773, is the one that can be seen today.
Rajbari is located in the northern part of Kolkata. This Rajbari or palace at Shobhabazar was constructed by Maharaja Nabakrishna Deb,
although there are contradicting stories on this. It is often said that
Raja Nabakrishna Deb (1733-1797) took over this palace from Shobharam
Basak and extended it to look like what it appears today.
Shobhabazar Rajbari is renowned for the illustrious Durga Puja.
Nabakrishna Deb is known for initiating this Durga Puja at the Rajbari. Being
one of the ancient buildings in north Kolkata, the Rajbari has a
heritage of its own.
on Strand Road, Prinsep Ghat is one of the oldest and most beautiful
monuments in Kolkata. It was built in 1841 as a memorial to
James Princep, a brilliant scholar who was the secretary of the Asiatic
Society from 1832 to 1838, and is best remembered for deciphering the
Kharosthi and Brahmi scripts of ancient India.The ghat was opened to the public in 1843. This monument was later restored by West Bengal government. You can while away your time by looking at the stunning Vidyasagar Setu (popularly called Second Hooghly Bridge) and feel the cool breeze on your face.
And the statues...
is full of statues celebrating the British heritage, Indian
Renaissance and freedom movement. The Maidan is a particularly good
place for statue-hunting. That apart you can also check out the statue
of Subhas Chandra Bose at the Shyambazar five-point crossing, that of Iswarchandra Vidyasagar on the premises of Sanskrit College on College Street
or of David Hare on the precincts of Presidency University. The last-mentioned one was built in 1847 and is one of Kolkata's best marble statues.
Lead image: wikitravel.org