Despite the introduction of advanced technology and urbanisation, nothing can take away from the rustic charm of Kolkata's oldest wonders, especially on the northern side of the city. If you find yourself wandering on the streets of North Kolkata, take a trip to any -or all- of these iconic locations.
The iconic facade of the Statesman House in Chowringhee Square is something really hard to miss while crossing its way. The magnificent Colonial-era building, built on a wedge-shaped site in the heart of Calcutta, has been the headquarters of The Statesman newspaper, founded in 1875. The building was formally opened on 18 January, 1933 by Sir John Anderson, the then governor of Bengal.
When you move away from The Statesman Building you come across a former garrison mess for the American soldiers posted in India during World War I, Bow Barracks is now home to the dwindling community of Anglo Indians in Kolkata. Once a thriving colony of Anglo Indians, the red-bricked and green-windowed buildings of Bow Barracks is holding onto its identity and old-world charm in a fast-changing city. The Christmas celebrations in Bow Barracks is not to be missed if you are in town during Christmas.
If you get hungry in the middle of your exploration of the old world charm of Kolkata, Teretti Bazaar is the place to sort your hunger pangs. Referred to as the old China Town of Calcutta, Terreti Bazaar is home to the immigrant Chinese community and is an immutable part of the cultural history of Calcutta. The breakfast market, which opens at 6 am in the morning, is one of its kind in the city, serving sumptuous momos and dumplings stuffed with chicken, pork, beef, seafood, and vegetables along with stuffed buns, homemade sausages and wantons. It is the perfect way to start your day of exploring the city.
The College Street
If your food cravings are satiated, it is time to tickle your brains a little and visit College Street. Nicknamed Boi Para (Books Colony), College Street is one of the most iconic places in the city. Home to the historic Presidency University, University of Calcutta, Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata, as well as numerous small and big bookstores that make it the largest second-hand book market of Asia. Freckled with innumerable tiny book kiosks, selling first hand and second-hand books on every topic under the sun, it is said that, “If you can't find a book in College Street, it probably doesn't exist.”
Now that you have had your fill of knowledge courtesy the books at College Street, it is time to make conversation with the young and the young-at-heart at The Indian Coffee House, the hub of the city’s intelligentsia. Located opposite the Presidency University, this cafe has been an irrevocable part of Calcutta’s history with its adda sessions and as the brewing place of numerous political and cultural debates as well as movements.
Jorasanko Thakur Bari
If you have had a conversation with the intelligentsia of Kolkata, wouldn't you want to visit the house of the original Nobel laureate of India? The ancestral house of Rabindranath Tagore, Jorasanko Thakur Bari is now a museum dedicated to the life and works of the Nobel Laureate. Built in 1785 and spread over 35000 square meters, the Jorasanko Thakur Bari houses the Rabindra Bharati University in the present day. Home to the illustrious Tagore family, Jorasanko has also been the home of the unparalleled talents of the Tagore family, like Maharshi Devendranath Tagore, Jyotindranath Tagore, Abanindranath Tagore and Dinendranath Tagore.
Nalin Chandra Das and Sons
Surely, by this time you are hungry again. And what better to eat the famous mishti of Kolkata at one of its iconic eateries. Established in 1841, Nalin Chandra Das and Sons has been serving the city’s sweet tooth for over 175 years. After four generations, Nalin Chandra Das is now a traditional name and is considered by many to be the pioneer in making Sandesh. Do not miss out the delectable Karapak and Chocolate Sandesh.
Once you are done with your exploration of the mishti of Bengal, it is time to scout the rajbari of Kolkata. Built in the middle of the 18th century by Raja Nabakrishna Deb, the Sovabajar Rajbari is one of the oldest royal houses of the Kolkata Aristocracies. It is an important heritage site, showcasing the lavish lifestyle of the Zamindari (Feudal Lord) era of Kolkata. Decked like a bride, Sovabajar Rajbari celebrates the annual Durga Pujo with equal pomp and grandeur like its yesteryears, attracting thousands of visitors. Today it is synonymous to the Bonedi Durga Pujo of Calcutta.
Talking about Durga Pujo, how can you miss out on Kumartuli the hub of the artisans making the Durga idols? Meaning potter’s locality, Kumartuli is an over 300 years old settlement of clay artisans. Every street, every lane, every bylane is riddled with workshops where sculptors, potters, frame decorators, and artists toil day and night to create masterpieces out of wood, bamboo, straw, and clay. With more than 500 workshops and thousands of artisans, Kumartuli’s idols adorns the pandals across the city during the different festivals celebrated in Calcutta. If Calcutta is synonymous to Durga Pujo, then Kumartuli is the lifeline that sees it through.
End your travel along the lanes and bylanes of Kolkata with a meal at Mitra Cafe to tingle your tastebuds. Founded by Shri Sushil Roy in 1920, over the years Mitra Cafe has become synonymous to the mouth-watering Kabiraji. With an array of palatable snacks and delicacies to choose from, Mitra Cafe is a must-visit for every foodie in town.