Built-in the 18th Century, Jorasanko Thakur Bari was where the famous writer Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore was born. The building is located on the Rabindra Bharti University campus premises, therefore the college organizes cultural programs and events on the birthday of the poet, as well as the light and sound shows that depict the life of the Tagore family in the house. The beautiful red color house has been restored to its original form and converted into a museum where visitors can learn about the lifestyle of the Tagore family in the 19th and 20th Century.
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.
National Library, located at Alipore is one of the largest libraries of India. The brilliant white structure set against lush green gardens of the picturesque Belvedere Estate, is truly a magnificent sight. The collection of books within the library accumulated from libraries like Calcutta Public Library, Imperial Library and so on that were amalgamated over a period of time, is as exquisite as the scenery surrounding it. Books in local and foreign languages, research journals, official documents, historical manuscripts, maps and the list is endless. Pre-independence agreements of the East India Company, maps from the 17th Century undivided India, publications of United Nations and other materials are of utmost importance and beneficial to the students of history and political science. In 1988, with foray into computers, this library archived books published back in 1667, thereby preserving classics for the future generations. Spread over a vast area of approximately 62000 square meters, with over 24,02,579 books, National Library, is a must visit attraction, while in Kolkata.
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.
Inaugurated by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1963, the M.P. Birla Planetarium holds the distinction of being the first of its kind in India. At the intersection of Shakespeare Sarani and Chowringhee, the white domed structure stands out in the midst of the daily traffic of people and vehicles. In accordance with its aim to educate, the planetarium offers a number of interesting ways to discover the varied facets of astronomy and related sciences. Student programs and a Post Graduate Diploma course in Astronomy & Planetarium Sciences is offered. However, if you just want to get the bare basics, you can take advantage of the free evening course in astronomy. Regular shows are conducted in Bengali, Hindi and English. The auditorium uses state-of-the-art equipment and can hold up to 688 people. If you need to get a closer look at the Kolkata sky, this is the place to do it!
Established by an East India Company officer Colonel Robert Kyd in 1787, this botanical garden was an initial investment to help distinguish plants that would contribute to commercial trade. Over the years, the garden has been titled ‘The Royal Botanical Garden’ and ‘Indian Botanical Gardens’ before finally being named after noted Indian physicist, botanist and biologist Archarya Jagadish Chandra Bose in 2009. The garden is spread across a stunning 109 hectares and is the oldest and largest of its kind in South East Asia. With over 12, 000 different varieties of plants to browse through, you would need an entire day to even skim the surface of all that this has to offer. A must-see is the The Great Banyan Tree which is said to be the largest tree in the world. The collection of different palms is also worth visiting. Situated at Shibpur, Howrah, the Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Botanical Garden can be easily reached via the Vidyasagar Setu. You can also catch a bus from Howrah Station to the B. Garden stop. The gardens are usually visited by groups of college students that come here to spend the entire day, equipped with water and snacks to keep them going.
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.