A mere village in the 17th century, Calcutta thrived during the British Raj and became a leading center for commerce and a port of call for east bound ships. It today reveals the rich diversity of the Bengali artistic heritage. The first impression of Calcutta may not be very flattering. However, Calcutta is a city with soul, which has been immortalized as ‘City of Joy’ by Dominique Lapierre.
If you visit the city and have only 24 hours in hand, I would recommend the below 5 things to do.
1) Travel using the local transport – Calcutta has an amazing network of local transport. You have options ranging from the loved yellow ambassador taxis (all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the ride), city buses (which are rickety but would give you a great insight to the common peoples lifestyle), metro rail (it’s probably the first underground rail system in India and hence it could be a bit outdated as compared to Delhi’s metro rail, however when you do take the metro in Calcutta along with the ride, you also get the chance to appreciate amazing artwork in most of these metro stations), tram (well it’s a treat to take a short tram ride and enjoy the slow ride whilst soaking up the cityscape)
2) Explore on foot and appreciate the architecture and heritage buildings – the heart of the city has some beautiful colonial British buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries. Walk and explore some of the most important buildings in this area and trace the fortunes of the British Empire through these buildings.
3) Take a rickshaw ride – It may not seem like a great idea to many but trust me, a ride on these man pulled rickshaw keeps many families going. Don’t bargain, just be generous and help these folks. Along the way just enjoy the ride.
4) Enjoy the street food – well after so much of exploring you need the food to get you going. Calcutta probably has the best street food culture in India. It’s delicious, clean and cheap. There’s also a huge selection to choose from. Personally, I love the egg rolls 🙂
5) Sunset river cruise – And finally put your feet up, relax and end the day enjoying a sunset boat cruise down the hoogly river.