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Must Visit Attractions in Kolkata

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54 Bose Road is one of the most famous addresses in Kolkata and an important stopover for every tourist visiting the city. The building aptly called Mother House is the headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity, Mother Teresa's vision to spread hope and love to the despair. Even today, Mother Teresa’s sisters of charity, clad in their trademark blue-bordered saris, continue to carry forward her legacy. Visitors can pay their respects at the Mother's tomb and visit the museum displaying objects from her routine life – sandals and a worn-out bowl that stand as true reflections of her simplicity. Invoking peace and a range of different emotions, this place allows you to catch a glimpse into the life of one of the finest human beings to have ever lived.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Park Street is a very famous and one of the most important streets in Kolkata. It has a number of notable buildings, colleges, showrooms and even the cemetery. Some important buildings include the Asiatic Society, St Xavier’s College and an Adventist Church. This is where party lovers can find the vibrant nightlife of the city. It has a number of restaurants and pubs and is also known as the ‘Food Street’ or ‘The Street that Never Sleeps’. Park Street is illuminated with lights on Diwali, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. A visit to Park Street is a must when you plan a visit to Kolkata.

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.

Located in the state of West Bengal in a region that borders Bangladesh, the Sundarban National Park is named after the bounty of Sundari trees that cloak the estuarine mangroves of this phenomenal park. This densely-wooded expanse sits at the brink of the world's largest delta, born of the union of India's major rivers – the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna. The estuarine boundaries of the forest are lined with swathes of mangrove trees that bend over its lip, shrouding parts of the forest in a grey hue. The Sundarban is especially famous for the fabled Bengal Tiger that swims through its dark waters, a skill that its breed has mastered over several generations. Around 400 of these regal cats saunter through the thick scope of the park and can be seen basking in the morning sun from November to February. Other creatures like leopards, wild boars, the Indian grey mongoose and foxes also abound in these stunning mangrove drapes. The Sundarbans are also a major reptilian territory – saltwater crocodiles skim the delta's surface, while monitor lizards crawling around the forest floor freely. Bearing a fascinating coastal terrain, the Sundarbans park was inscribed a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987.

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.

Built by Colonel John Garstin in 1811, Town Hall has been one of the most prominent and beloved landmarks of Kolkata. The Neo-Palladian structure is a pristine white and is easily recognized by its signature white columns and Venetian arcs. Architecturally, this building is spectacular and is an attraction in itself. However, once you walk inside, you can see many small rooms and a large hall, all dedicated to the history of Kolkata. Kolkata Panorama which exists inside the landmark retells the story of Kolkata using interactive story-telling and state-of-the-art communication facilities. Whether you step inside, or view the building from outside, you’re witnessing history for sure! The Calcutta High Court is just minutes away.

Shantiniketan literally translates to 'abode of peace' and the little village with its red soil and ample greenery could not have a more apt name. The site is most famous for 'Visva Bharati', a unique institution founded by the revered Bengali poet and philosopher, Rabindranath Tagore. The vision was to impart education in natural surroundings rather than closed rooms; what started as a humble school called 'Patha Bhavana' took the form of a full-fledged university, complete with departments for different subjects ranging from languages to sciences. The Rabindra Museum and Kancher Mandir are also housed here. Kopai Nadi and Koai Nadi (rivers) in Shantiniketan are sites where Tagore penned some of his famous works. Shantiniketan Market and other shops sell handicrafts and handlooms; traditional musical instruments and leather items are among the most popular buys. A number of events take place in Shantiniketan every year; Poush Mela which usually falls in December is a colorful display of traditional Bengali folk music and dance, especially the baul form of music. Tourist guides, usually found outside the Vishva Bharati campus, charge about INR 250 to 600 depending on the duration of your tour. Other attractions in close vicinity include Kankalitala, Tarapith and Deer Park in Ballavpur Wildlife Sanctuary. Although a day is enough for a tour of this 'university town', it is advisable to start early, at Shantiniketan, the day officially ends at 6 p.m.

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