The OG den of Kolkata’s nightlife, plenty has been written about Park Street’s affinity to merriment with food, drinks and music. But its honky-tonk notoriety only tells half the story of this street’s charm. Sun up or at sundown – the question ‘what to do in Park Street’ would need no Googling if you know just where to look. Here’s our list of seven fun things to do in Park Street none of which involve watering holes, or popping a digestive after a meal.
Listen to the Buskers
The scene may not be straight out of Marrakech’s Djemaa el-Fna or NOLA’s French Quarter, but you can’t miss the familiar tunes of old Bollywood, with an occasional sprinkle of classical notes, floating around the stretch of Park Street from Flury’s to Park Hotel. Park Street’s buskers are like pied pipers who beckon the affluent to buy their handmade musical instruments (think wooden flutes and sarangi).
Buy Books and Mags
For a hood that is renowned for grubbing and drinking, Park Street also has a slew of popular bookstores like the iconic Oxford Bookstores, indie favourite The Family Book Shop, and the quirky cat-themed Bingsha Shatabdi. It gets more interesting when you walk down Park Hotel to Bar-B-Q and a whole different world of books opens up. Pavement booksellers rattle off names of current bestsellers with as much ease as they suggest titles for niche reading. Even better, there’s no stopping the bargaining here!
Revisit Childhood at Giggles
An iconic Kolkata institution that once drew more youngsters than its next-door eateries and stores, Giggles still charms us with 90s nostalgia, greeting cards, board games, snow globes and fridge magnets. It had shut shop for a while, but reopened last year. Its tiny mezzanine space may seem nothing like its previous sprawling space, but the charm is unmissable.
Bring Out The Inner Child at The India Hobby Centre
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Once a must-stop shop for hobby sets and unique collectables like coins, stamps and retro aircraft assembling kits, this toy shop from the 1950s stands at the junction of Park Street and Russel Street. Now left with just a few shelves of game sets, it may not be what it was in its prime, but visiting it is still a thrill, even if it is to grab an ice-cream from the attached parlour.
Geek Out on History at The Park Street Cemetery
If history is your true muse, then the South Park Street Cemetery is a must-visit. Urban legend says it’s one of Kolkata’s most haunted places. With over 1,600 graves (the oldest one dating back to 1760s), this is your site for thanatourism with its collection of obelisks, urns, pyramids and ornate temple-like structures. From Dickens’ son to philologist William Jones and HLV Derozio—they are all here.
Load up on Stationery
If you don’t know it already, then Park Street is also your spot to score stationery at a bargain. Across the Park Street Post Office are lines of stalls that sell stationery for cheap. Markers, Post-Its, files, folders, clips, holders—the list is endless.
Marvel over Antiques at Victor Brothers
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Definitely bigger than the TARDIS (with a thick jacket of dirt), Victor Brothers is one of Kolkata’s oldest auction houses that sits close to the Park Street Post Office. Somewhat like Miyazaki’s stinky river spirit, there are treasures like chipped and dirt-laden original Ming vases, Victorian tea sets and plates, grandfather clocks, brownie cameras, stately vintage chandeliers, all waiting to be discovered within. Don’t worry about the purse, window shopping is not prohibited here.