Located on the Jawaharlal Nehru Road, Indian Museum holds the distinction of being one of the first museums of its kind in the world. Founded by Dr. Nathaniel Wallich in 1814, the museum was first located within the Asiatic Society. However, the ever-growing repertoire of artifacts made its shift to the current location necessary. The pristine white edifice that houses the Indian Museum today was built by architect W.L. Granvil, which is also the name behind important landmarks like Calcutta High Court and the G.P.O. Inside, the museum has three floors with sixty different galleries that explore areas like Anthropology, Archaeology, Art, Geology, Zoology, Botany and Technology. The museum's collection has over 1 million exhibits today, and you can find anything from Egyptian mummies to meteorites during your visit. The Painting Gallery is of particular importance, as it holds some rare insights into ancient Indian art. Students and researchers of different faculties find the museum extremely resourceful: apart from the vast display of artifacts, the space also includes a library and a bookshop. Indian Museum organizes a number of interesting events throughout the year and also occasionally conducts short courses and seminars on various subjects. With over 10000 square feet of area to explore, it is best to spend an entire day at this museum.
The roots of Alipore Zoological Gardens lie in a private menagerie once owned by Governor General Lord Wellesley in the 1800s. However, it was only many years after he returned to England, that a formal 'Zoological Gardens' was established in Alipore. Inaugurated in 1876 by Sir Edward VII, the Alipore Zoological Gardens was the first of its kind in the country; African Buffalo, Zanzibar Ram, Four-horned sheep, Hybrid Kashmiri Goat, Indian Antelope, Indian Gazelle and Sambar Deer were among the first breeds held here. The zoo was famous for housing the Aldabra Giant Tortoise 'Adwaita' which died in 2006, after 250 years! In the 1900s, the zoo was reputed as a pioneer in captive breeding processes; the Sumatran Rhinoceros was one of the successful breeding projects. However, over the years, it received a lot of criticism for its poor maintenance of animals and the 'Panthera Hybrid Program' (lion and tiger hybrids). Today, Alipore Zoo or Zoological Gardens remains a major attraction of the city, and houses species like Royal Bengal Tiger, African Lion, Great Indian One-horned Rhinoceros, Reticulated Giraffe, Dromedary Camel and Indian Elephant. Spread across 45 acres of land, the zoo also features a Reptile House, Primate House, Panther House and Elephant House. It may take you anywhere between an hour to a day to tour the zoo in its entirety; National Library, Agri Horticultural Gardens and Alipore Jail are in close vicinity. Photography is allowed after a charge of INR 250.
In a developing nation like India, where blind traditions and wrong beliefs still take precedence, it is very important to educate the citizens and create an awareness about science and advancements in technology. With this thought in mind, the Science City was established in Kolkata. The interactive displays, models and shows held here explain the wonders of science, the logical reasoning behind calamities like Tsunami and famines, laws of physics and other concepts in simple and easy to understand language. Affiliated to National Council of Science Museums, it has two divisions namely the Science Centre and the Convention Centre. The Science Centre complex, houses the Space Odyssey, Dynamotion, Evolution Theme Park, Maritime Centre and a Science Park and the Convention Centre has a Grand Theatre , Mini Auditorium, a Seminar hall and a vast open-air ground. It screens educational and informative shows like 'Living Sea ' and 'Vision Beyond Light Years'. One of the biggest attractions is the 'Time Machine' a motion simulator ride backed with audio-visual effects that takes you through black hole, planets, asteroids and the entire Solar system. You can also take a Cable car ride, that gives you a cool aerial view of the entire facility. So do take your kids, to this fun city that effectively presents important topics in fun format. Please note that admission does not include cable ride, time machine, theater and other attractions; you need to pay a separate entry fee. For a complete list of rates, check the website.
Gurusday Museum has been established in the memory of Shri Gurusday Dutt for his untiring work of keeping alive the folk art of Bengal. It is an art and craft museum that has products from remote parts of the state. The collection includes more than 300 artifacts of deities, masks, musical instruments, textiles, woodwork, archaeological objects and paintings. This museum was opened because of the recommendation of his son, Birendrasaday Dutt. The then stalwarts such as Mahatma Gandhi, Dr Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, Dr Rabindranath Tagore and many more were of the opinion that without the energy and enthusiasm of Shri Gurusday Dutt, our ancient culture could not have been preserved. It was he who gave momentum to the Neo-Bengal School of Art.
Situated next to the Nalban Boating Complex in Salt Lake City or Bidhannagar, Nicco Park happens to be one of the biggest amusement parks in India and the first of its kind in Eastern India. Colloquially known as Jheel Meel, Nicco Park opened in 1991 and has a number of superlatives to its credit: Asia's largest wooden roller coaster, India's first 4D cinema experience and the first in the world to acquire the ISO 9002 certification. Apart from adventure rides like Flying Saucer, Cave Ride and Moonraker, the 40 acre establishment also includes a beautiful rose garden and an open Food Court serving a variety of cuisines. 'Wet-O-Wild Beach Tropicana', the water park within Nicco Park, comes with a huge artifical beach, waterfall, wave runners, play pool and a number of interesting rides. With all this action to partake in, there is no room for a dull moment at this dedicated fun zone. To keep the energy flowing, visit one of the strategically scattered food kiosks. The Nicco Super Bowl is right next door, but maybe you should plan that for another day!
Tucked away in a quiet corner of bustling Kolkata is the Chitrakoot Art Gallery. Founded in 1984, this spacious gallery showcases an extensive assortment of Bengali art - both early and recent. These paintings and sculptures are works of renowned artists namely Bikash Bhattacharjee, Jogen Choudhary and Jamini Roy, as well as those of up and coming professionals. The gallery is a great platform for local retailers and art aficionados to network, mingle and determine the next addition to their personal collection.
Chinatown is an area in Kolkata that is home to many ethnic Chinese Indian people. This area has witnessed largest immigration from China since 1820. The majority of the Chinese population works in the tanning industry nearby. This area also has the largest number of Chinese restaurants where traditional Chinese and Indian Chinese delicacies are served. This area is divided into two parts, Old Chinatown and New Chinatown. Tourists from outside Kolkata make it a point to come here and experience the taste of China. This is also one of the favorite hangouts of the locals.
Abanindranath Tagore Gallery at the Rabindranath Tagore Centre is a prominent exhibition venue in Kolkata, attracting a large number of art aficionados, critics and collectors. The wooden flooring, white walls and focal lighting make it an ideal place for established as well as emerging artists to showcase their talent.
The Nandalal Bose Gallery is the largest of the galleries at the Rabindranath Tagore Centre. This U-shaped exhibition space, with matte finish granite flooring and wooden pillars against the white walls, has featured many prominent artists in addition to some great collaborative work, that keep art aficionados and collectors flocking.
The Jamini Roy Gallery is named after the prominent Indian artist and features a number of art exhibitions. The wooden panels, granite flooring, clean lines, and the focal lighting, enhanced by the inflow of natural light, gives this space a very minimalistic appeal making it a popular choice among art lovers.
Built on a hillock, Swabhumi uses the natural terrain and greenery of the site to create a unique space that is dedicated to showcasing artistic and cultural nuances of India, and particularly Bengal. The large space is divided into three zones. In the urban zone, the most interesting shops include: Karuja for dokra and shola craft items, Vikalp Art Shop for sculptures and paintings by contemporary Indian artists and Suryabarta for handicrafts from Shantiniketan. Marked by little clusters of huts, the traditional zone known as 'Shilpagram' is the most interesting part of the establishment. Here, you will find 'Karigarer Haat' (Craftsman's House) where artisans sell their own creations and also answer any questions you have about origin of the art forms and methods used to create them. Of special note is the Music Courtyard which has a number of Indian and Bengali instruments like the ektara, sitar and tabla; the craftsmen, who also tend to be musicians, perform live demonstrations for the discerning customer. The colorful Meena Bazaar is an amazing place to buy all kinds of jewelery. Everything here is reasonably priced, but you can try bargaining (it works sometimes). Another zone is entirely dedicated to serving you various cuisines from different parts of India. Hosting a number of events every year, Swabhumi has four event spaces; Rang Manch at 8000 square feet and Urban Courtyard at 12000 square feet are the biggest and most popular. Swabhumi, literally 'my land', is a veritable paradise for souvenir hunters!