The City of Joy holds a treasure trove of tourist spots. It has a little something to offer for everyone. Be it a history enthusiast who can head down to Victoria Memorial or a nature lover who can take a stroll in the Botanical Gardens, Kolkata is somewhat a mixed bag of different cultures and lifestyles, all of which add to its vibrant hues. However, apart from the usual well-known names, this city also holds some out-of-the-box delights for anyone who is willing to go a little beyond the ordinary.
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This Buddhist temple near Lake Market is a fresh break from the hustle and bustle of the city. Built around the 1930s, the Buddhist monks here follow a somewhat old branch of Buddhism known as Nichiren Buddhism. Prayers occur regularly at 6am and 6pm, open to anyone who wants to attend. It is a beautiful compound with a white building housing the Buddha statue. Behind the compound is a small living quarter where a few monks reside.
Around the 19th century, country liquor bars were very common in the city. Khalasitola too was one such bar which derived its name from the 'khalasis' or workers from the docks who would often stop here for a drink. Nestled between Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Road and S.N. Banerjee Road, this place has an old world charm, yet it works on ethics and principles which are very modern. There are different sections for food and drinks and anybody found disrupting the order is immediately asked to leave. Many stalwarts of Bengal have graced this watering hole. Filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak, for instance, would often stop by to have a drink and work on his script.
Despite being located on a well-traversed route, this mosque is one of Kolkata’s best-kept secrets. You will find it right in the middle of the city’s famous Rabindra Sarobar Lake. It was constructed around 1824-25. The details are a little fuzzy but while many people believe that the lake was dug around an island to retain the mosque, its owner claims that there used to exist a pond back in the day and his great-grandfather rowed his way over to the island for evening prayers. The mosque has recently been renovated but the trees around it have gotten so big that it often hides the mosque from plain sight. A bridge connects to this tiny mosque on an island in the lake.
Mallickghat Flower Market
One of Kolkata’s most unique experiences, this place can only be described as an explosion of colours. It is one of the largest flower markets of not just India, but also Asia. The market gears into life as early as 4 am when vendors and buyers engage in their business. This place also caters to orders for big ceremonies and you will often spot people sitting inside makeshift shelters and threading garlands or making bouquets. Filled with marigolds, roses, lotuses and a plethora of different flowers, this Insta-worthy place is a joy for anyone looking for a treat to their senses.
If you have a thing for the eerie, then you definitely should stop by Jessop Factory. For a very long time, this factory was the home to thousands of workers who depended on it for their daily wage. However, owing to sudden problems, it had to shut down. The gloom of the abandoned premises is almost immediately evident when you step in. The factory suspended operations a few years back, but locals believe that on some nights the factory comes alive with the humming of machines and the sound of men working.