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 Victoria Memorial of Kolkata is a majestic domed structure in white marble. It was built in memory of Queen Victoria in the early 20th century. It is a 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 in the glory of India. The Victoria Memorial is also one of the finest art museums in Kolkata.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
St. Paul's Cathedral in Kolkata 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.
This 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 inSikandra, 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 the 'Namaaz' in the prayer hall. In the centre of the premise is a dome and two minarets.
The 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. Ruins of the Armenian cemetery are there in the church premises.
Pareshnath Jain Temple
Pareshnath Jain Temple is located in the north-east of Kolkata. 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. Construction of the Pareshnath Jain Temple of Kolkata was done by Ray Badridas Bahadur in 1867. The aesthetic beauty and serenity attracts tourists from all across the globe. Another notable feature is a lamp inside which burns with ghee and is never allowed to extinguish.
St. Johns’ Church
This iconic structure in the BBD Bag area is 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 become the model of colonial church architecture with time. Inside, there are several rare portraits of 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 important people.
The 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 West Bengal in the year 1835. Its sheer magnificence and scintillating artistry will surely captivate one in a state of trance. 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 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; the north-eastern frontier has an elegant fountain in the midst of a serene lake.
The Indian Museum is the largest museum in India and has rare collections of antiques, armour and ornaments, fossils, skeletons, mummies, and Mughal paintings. It was founded by the Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1814. The founder curator was Dr Nathaniel Wallich, a Danish botanist. Among its exhibits are an Egyptian mummy, the Buddhist stupa from Bharhut, ashes of the Buddha, the 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 of meteorites.
The 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.
If you are familiar with Bengali culture and the works of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, then Thakurbari is a "must see" during your time in Kolkata. 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 art work and photograph collections are simply invaluable.
The national library in Kolkata is situated at the majestic Belvedere estate on Belvedere road just opposite to the Alipore Zoo. It is the largest & oldest library of India. The entire estate area spans around 30 acres full of thick greenaries & well maintained parks. The mail building is around 150 yrs old. This marvellous architect of British era used to be the residence of the then Lt. General of Bengal. Currently the library is having a collection of over 2.2 millions of books in different regional languages covering almost every aspects & subjects possible.
Though busy roads full of chaotic traffic are circling this majestic estate but as soon as you enter inside you can feel the silence & tranquility of the nature which automatically brings a peace of mind which keeps you totally engage in undisturbed reading in this temple of knowledge.
Fort William, or the citadel of Calcutta, is named after King William III of England. The British East India Company’s main Bengal trading station was moved from Hooghly to Calcutta in 1690 after a war with the Mughals. Between 1696 and 1702 a fort was built in Calcutta, with the Nawab of Bengal’s permission.
In 1756 the fort was taken by Sirāj al-Dawlah, Nawab of Bengal. After the recovery of Calcutta (1757), this fort was demolished and a new one constructed farther south, with an unobstructed field of fire. The latter fort, completed in 1773, still stands.
A stroll by this fort on a lazy Sunday winter afternoon, while enjoying the scenic beauty of the mighty Ganga can bring cheers of glee in a mundane routine life.
Shobhabazar Rajbari is located in Northern part of Kolkata. The Rajbari or the 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 this palace from Shobharam Basak and extended it to look what it appears today.
The Shobhabazar Rajbari is renowned for the illustrious of Durga Puja. Nabakrishna Deb is known for initiating this Puja in the Rajbari. Being one of the ancient buildings of Northern Kolkata, the Rajbari has a heritage of its own. It is still popular even today for the splendid temples inside the building grounds and the complex rituals followed.
Located on Strand road, Princep Ghat is one of the oldest and most beautiful monuments in the city of Kolkata. It was built in 1841 as a memorial to James Princep, a brilliant scholar who was the secretary of “The Asiatic Society” from 1832-1838,and is best remembered for deciphering the Kharosthi and Brahmi scripts of ancient India.The Ghat was opened to public in the year 1843.The old Monument was restored by West Bengal Govt.
You can while away your time by looking at the stunning Second Hooghly Bridge and feel the cool breeze on your face.
And the statues...
Kolkata is full of statues celebrating British heritage and the 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, the statue of Iswarchandra Vidyasagar located on the premises of Sanskrit College or the statue of David Hare on the precincts of Presidency College. It was built in 1847 and is one of Kolkata's few marble statues.