During the colonial rule, the Britishers erected magnificent structures and palatial residences, that often replicated buildings and government offices back in England. Raj Bhavan is one of such splendid heritage landmarks in the city of Kolkata. Spread across 27 acres, the wrought iron gates and imposing lions atop, create a majestic allure to the whole place and draw a clear line of distinction between the powerful rulers and the powerless common man. It continued to be the official residence of Governor-Generals and Viceroy until Kolkata ceased to be the capital of India and Delhi came into prominence. It has many suites, the important ones being the 'Prince of Wales' suite, named in the honor of Prince Edward of Wales and 'Wellesly Suite', named after the Governor General, who commissioned the construction of Raj Bhavan. It also houses a library, that includes a wide range of books and official journals, simply left behind by the previous governors, right from pre-independence era. Apart from that, it also has a collection of rare manuscripts and photographs, which gets enriched with each passing year. Currently, the Governor of West Bengal resides here and it plays host to important foreign delegates, dignitaries and official meetings. Though due to security reasons, you will be unable to see the building from within, the beautiful exteriors are worth a visit.
For years, it was the Howrah Bridge (or Rabindra Setu) on the river Hooghly that carried the sea of people that travel between Kolkata and its twin city Howrah. But considering traffic pressures, the idea for a second bridge over the Hooghly came into being. The Second Hooghly Bridge or the Vidyasagar Setu, as it is named after the Bengali philosopher and reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, is a 457 meter long cable stayed bridge and the second largest in India after the Bandra-Worli Sea Link in Mumbai. Bicycles can roam free, but this is a toll bridge for all other vehicles. Built between 1978 and 1993, Vidyasagar Setu has since become an indispensable asset to the city. And of course, the bridge itself does make the Kolkata skyline a little more interesting!
As soon as you step inside South Park Street Cemetery, you will be transposed to the colonial times, away from the hustle-bustle of the 21st century. Built in circa 1767, this cemetery was built for the members of the British community who couldn't withstand the intolerable climatic conditions of the Indian peninsula. Most of the graves at the Park Street Cemetery are home to the souls of soldiers who lost their lives in wars, sailors dead during shipwrecks, British women who couldn't survive due to their fragile health and infants and kids who lived barely for a few months/years. The South Park Street Cemetery is home to the graves of such notable figures as Sir Thomas D'Oyly, Colonel Kyd, Sir William Jones and several others who played an influential role during the British Raj. If you wish to acquaint yourself with the history of the city, do not forget to pay a visit to the cemetery.
Although the name may imply so, Lake Kalibari is not actually a lake but an old temple devoted to the Indian goddess Kali; ‘Kalibari’ roughly translates to Kali’s residence. Established by Sree Sree Haripada Chakroborty more than 60 years ago, the temple is also known as Sree Sree 108 Karunamoyee Kalmatai Mondir after the deity it is dedicated to. It is also the site of the Panchamundi Ashan, a seat made with five skulls. The old temple is just a humble structure with an asbestos roof, but it is widely visited by devotees from all over the city. As a tribute, a large temple complex is planned to be built right behind the old facade. Apart from housing a temple devoted to Maa Kali, the new construction will have an auditorium for seminars and discussions, guest rooms and a number of other facilities.
Dedicated to Lord Auckland's sister Eden, Eden Gardens was conceptualized as a man-made representation of the biblical 'Garden of Eden'. Built in 1840, this sprawling expanse has a number of trees and shrubs scattered around everywhere. A large gateway covered in creepers welcomes you in. Once inside, you can choose to take long strolls along the winding pathways or seat yourself on one of the park benches and spend some quiet moments. The whole place is enveloped in natural beauty; the sight of blooming flowers juxtaposed with the surrounding greenery, the cool breeze and the general sense of peace together contribute to make this the 'Garden of Eden' it was meant to be. Named after the garden, the Eden Gardens Stadium is just a few steps away. Also nearby are major attractions and landmarks like the Kolkata Race Course, Fort William and Victoria Memorial.
Mahanirvan Math located at Rash Behari Avenue was established by the great and famous spiritual guru Sri Sri Nityagopal. It was shifted from its original location in Manoharpukur to it's current location in Kalighat. The pioneer of the Ramkrishna Mission, Ramkrishna Paramhansa, appreciated his thoughts, his principles and his devotion to God. His followers also believe that Ramkrishna Paramhansa and Sri Sri Nityagopal are re-incarnations of Balram and Krishna respectively, such was the bond of these divine souls. The important ideology followed and imbibed by him, were equality and adapting humanity towards one and all. At the Mahanirvan Math, one can almost feel at peace with oneself and the best time to visit this math is early morning, when bhakts gather here for morning prayers and chants. It also has small office-cum-bookshop, that distributes free pamphlets and books at nominal prices on the teachings of Sri Sri Nityagopal.
As Kolkata took its place as the capital of British India, infrastructural changes and reforms saw the need for a new body that could be held solely responsible for the development of Kolkata. The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (now Kolkata Municipal Corporation or KMC) was thus formed in 1976. The building with the brilliant red facade that you see today is testimony to Kolkata’s development over the years. It stands on a road called Surendranath Banerjee Road, which was so named in the honor of Surendranath Bannerjee who was responsible for introducing a number of important changes as the first minister for local self-government in Bengal. And to think Kolkata has come this far from being just a collection of villages marked by mud huts and open drains, is quite impressive! Corporation Building (KMC Building) is a landmark that is best viewed from the outside at any time of the day. It houses the office of KMC, call for office timings.
Located within the St John Church, Job Charnock's Tomb is truly a sight to behold. One of the oldest English monuments in the city, it was constructed in the memory of English merchant-adventurer, Job Charnock, who is popularly believed to have founded the city of Kolkata in 1690. The mausoleum was built by Job Charnock's successor and son-in-law Sir Charles Eyre, in 1695. Constructed from a unique kind of rock called 'Charnockite', this edifice projects the deep rooted respect that was bestowed upon this individual. The tomb itself is engraved with a short text in Latin honoring the man.