Belur Math is an architectural beauty situated on the western banks of the Hooghly River. Marked by several domes placed in aesthetic harmony, Belur Math is the headquarters of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission. The two institutions are dedicated to 'Vedanta', a Hindu philosophical sect, and strongly promote harmony across religions and boundaries. Ramakrishna Math, a monastic organization and Ramakrishna Mission, a society dedicated to philanthropic activities, together have 171 branches spread across India and other parts of the world. Inside Belur Math, temples honouring Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananda can be found, all melodiously reflecting different architectural styles and religious details. Swami Vivekananda, who oversaw the construction of the temple complex, used symbols from Christianity, Islam as well as Hinduism as reminders of Ramakrishna’s message. The 40-acre complex also houses the Ramakrishna Museum and a book store. Built-in 1938, Belur Math is the most important pilgrimage destinations in Kolkata and is usually visited along with Dakshineshwar Kali Temple, Path Bari and Kancher Mandir. You can visit all of these by using the Jetty service available outside Belur Math.
The Indian goddess Kali is a quintessential part of Kolkata and its people. One of the most religious sites in West Bengal, the Dakshineswar temple complex is marked by a traditional Bengali Navaratna, or a nine-spire style devoted to Kali and her many manifestations, specifically Bhavatarini. Skirting the resplendent shrine is a troupe of several other, smaller temples, including the nine Shiva Temples and the Radha Krishna Temple. Shades of red and yellow define the Dakshineswar Kali Temple and the colorfully-clad pilgrims make it quite an intense and interesting palette. Also known to have been a spiritual leader and mystic Rama Krishna Paramahansa's abode for a certain period of time, the temple also shelters a white shrine, comprising the statue of Rani Rashmonin Devi (who was responsible for building the temple), in its courtyard. The temple, at once, strikes as an elegant, palatial structure, and is home to a large parking lot that accommodates the regular flow of devotees. The waters of the Hooghly River and the Vivekananda Setu form the backdrop of the temple which is well-renowned for its deeply-entrenched fondness for the revered yogi and mystic Ramakrishna. Standing proudly on a pedestal which is led by a flight of stairs, the temple is visited by a number of pilgrims everyday and remains crowded most of the time.
An angelic-white canopy crafted purely from Makrana marble, the iconic Victoria Memorial buildings lies nestled amid rolling lawns and groves of swaying palms. Built as a tribute to Queen Victoria of England, this magnificent edifice is one of the best landmarks that grace the city of Kolkata. This majestic building is steeped in a long-standing history - Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of India, decided to set up a memorial as grand and royal as the Queen herself. Nestled along the banks of the Hooghly River, the memorial comprises beautiful gardens, emerald pools, a museum, statues and busts of Britishers and Indians as well. An important fact to be noted is that Indian princes and citizens contributed generously to the Victoria Memorial funds and the total construction cost was approximately INR 1,05,00,000. Huge, carved pillars, intricately-patterned marble domes and tall towers speak volumes about the craftsmanship of the Indian artisans who played an integral role in executing the building to reality. The galleries and museum house British memorabilia including paintings, sculptures and artifacts that chronicle important events of the Queen's life; right from her coronation ceremony to her residence. Apart from that, it has the sword of the brave prince and warrior Tipu Sultan and cannons reminiscent of the Battle of Plassey. Words or a camera frame do not do justice to the sheer opulence and grandeur of Victoria Memorial, a site which has captured the hearts, souls and imaginations of many.
Built to replace the old Floating Pontoon Bridge, the New Howrah Bridge was renamed as Rabindra Setu in 1965, honouring the illustrious Bengali poet and painter Rabindranath Tagore. However, it is still most popularly known as Howrah Bridge. Placed between the Vivekananda Setu and the Vidyasagar Setu, this cantilever bridge was the first of the three Kolkata bridges, and was completed in 1943. Easily one of Kolkata's busiest bridges carrying thousands of vehicles every day, Howrah Bridge plays a major role in epitomizing the increasingly-urbane, forward-looking vigour that envelops the city. Seamlessly spanning the mighty course of Hooghly River, this bridge is characterized by brilliantly-done latticework, and is a product of outstanding engineering prowess. The concentration of vehicles increases along the teeming Howrah Station, while scores pedestrians, hawkers, merchants and locals make it an essential part of the everyday life of Kolkata. An iconic structure steeped in an indelible history and heritage, Howrah Bridge, with all its people and stories, will always remain an emblematic jewel of the city.
St. Paul's Cathedral is one of the 'first Episcopal Church of the Orient' in Kolkata. Bishop Daniel Wilson initiated the construction of the cathedral in 1839 and it was completed in 1847. Designed by Major William Nairn Forbes, it is similar to the Bell Harry Tower in Canterbury Cathedral in Kent. The pristine white walls, the stained glass windows, carved wooden pieces and frescoes remind you of the Renaissance period. Though the church was completely destroyed twice, it was eventually restored and regained it's original grandeur. While you are visiting St.Paul's Cathedral, you can also check-out the nearby attractions like Victoria Memorial, Nandan, Mahanagar Peace Park and the Birla Planetarium.
The Calcutta High court is one of the most strikingly beautiful constructions you will see in Kolkata. Modeled after the Belgian Stadt Haus, the building is situated in an enclave of sorts, with buildings on both sides. The main building is a striking red with a number of arches and columns which is a pattern that is continued in the hallways inside as well. Designed by Walter Granville, it looks rightfully regal as the country’s oldest High Court. Established on 1st July 1862 after the High Court’s Act 1861, it also has a circuit Bench in Port Blair, Andaman & Nicobar Islands. Although Calcutta is now officially known as Kolkata, Calcutta High Court retains its old name.
A pristine canopy sheathed in liberal swathes of white, the opulent Marble Palace is an embodiment of elegance and a beauty that transcends the very existence of space and time. A stunning relic of the 19th Century, the palace was built by Raja Rajendra Mullick, and is characterized by a tapestry of walls, flooring and sculptures which are brilliantly-clad in marble. Awash in spectacular semblances of Neoclassical architecture, the palace harbors several collections of western sculpture, artifacts and antique treasures such as clocks, urns and chandeliers, along with paintings by well-known artists such as John Opie, Titian and Murillo. Cloaked in unabashed grandeur, the magnificent interior of the palace spills into rolling, open courtyards which are much reminiscent of the Bengal which once was. Having been responsible for largely shaping the historic and cultural landscape of Kolkata, this timeless palace is adorned with jubilant fountains, glorious sculptures, a string of picturesque Corinthian columns, a serene lake, a rock garden and the Marble Palace Zoo, which shelters a troupe of delightful birds and animals like monkeys and diverse species of deer.
St Andrew's Church is a renowned landmark, and one of the oldest churches in the city. Noted for its tall spire and Greek columns, this vintage structure stands out amonsgt the more modern buildings of the city. Originally a Church of Scotland, it follows the Presbyterian form of worship and is is the custodian of the Scottish Cemetery. This beautiful church has been listed as a Grade I Heritage Building by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation.