Kolkata is much more than Victoria Memorial, Birla Planetarium and Coffee House. There are still so many places hidden under countless layers of history that need more limelight. In this article, I am listing a few places that I love and I would love for you to visit too. You are welcome!
1. Park Street Cemetery
You might be wondering, why would anybody visit a cemetery? I know the feeling. That’s exactly how I felt when my buddy back in college told me one fine day – “We are bunking Professor T Sen’s class. We need to check out the Park Street Cemetery now!” I was confused and to be honest, quite scared too. Honestly, back then I had not developed a single adventurous bone in my body. Nonetheless, we went there. Silence. Total silence welcomed the two of us. As we walked past tombs neatly placed one after another, we read stories. Stories of countless lives. Some died as young as 2 months old; some died at 80. Someone was a war hero, another was plagued by cholera. The stories transport you back to so many past lives. God knows, maybe we are all reborn from our own ashes Maybe I went there for a purpose. Who knows. But, this cemetery is the most peaceful and beautiful spot of Kolkata. The greenery, the tranquillity and flashes of 19th century Gothic and Indo-Saracenic styles of architecture will leave you overwhelmed with so many emotions.
2. Mallick Ghat Flower Market
Our generation mostly lives a black and white life with hints of greys. We are all routine-bound. Wake up, finish up chores, work, return, sleep, repeat. Amidst this monotonous chain of events, if you ever feel like experiencing an outburst of real colours – visit Mallick Ghat Flower Market before sunrise. I promise you will not regret this choice. Situated right at the foot of the legendary Howrah Bridge, Mallick Ghat Flower Market starts hustling with energy and trade before even before sunlight cracks open. The trip to this market is not for the faint hearted. There will be dirty, narrow lanes, unhygienic walls, the smell of piss and the sight of beetle leaf spit all over. But as they say, to gain something, you have to lose something. Once you reach this place, be prepared to be enthralled. Sit at one of the tea stalls, take a sip, relax and absorb the world of flower traders. It’s an experience of a lifetime.
I didn’t even know this magical place existed in Kolkata until the summer of 2007. I was in my second year of college. It was a Friday night. We had a girl’s night out planned. We girls sneaked out of our homes, changed clothes in the washroom of clubs, and danced all night to Akon, Kardinal Offishall, Shaggy and the likes. Kolkata has the best night scenes ever. You can actually party till 4:00 am in the morning. However, by the end of it, we were famished and left with very limited pocket money. One of my friends said let’s go to Teretti Bazaar for Chinese breakfast. Whoa, there is a place that serves breakfast at 4 in the morning? That too Chinese breakfast? We were so curious that we actually took a taxi to Poddar Court. And guess what, it was one of the fascinating experience of my life. Teretti Bazaar is Kolkata’s very own Chinatown. Thick with such rich Chinese cultural legacy, this place undoubtedly portrays the beauty of Chinese-Indian community in Bengal. What did we eat? Hot Chicken Momos, Prawn Wafers, Shu Mei, Chinese Sausages, Fried Fish Momos and Clear Soup. All served on the streets, fresh from the fire. The taste was magical. It seemed everybody from Kolkata came to Chinatown for a scrumptious breakfast. By 7:00 am they wrap up everything and go back to daily life chores. If you are ever in Kolkata, ditch the regular touristy stuff and head to this place near Poddar Court at Sun Yat Sen Street in central Kolkata.