Top 11 Things To Do in Kolkata (Calcutta), India

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Mother Teresa House

Kolkata (Calcutta) is a city located in the West Bengal state, on the Eastern edge of India. It is a huge city that teems with never ending streams of honking traffic, businesses, restaurants and street food, and a share of attractions.

I had an incredible 2 week visit to Kolkata and was able to explore the city and visit quite a few interesting places. Known as the “City of Joy,” here are a few of the top things to do in Kolkata!

1. Mother Teresa House (Above)

Mother Teresa, an Albanian Roman Catholic missionary, did a lot of her work in India, especially right in the heart of Kolkata. Her former home and charity in Kolkata is now known as the Motherhouse, and inside the modest mission is Mother Teresa’s tomb.

After paying respect, you can walk through a small museum that displays a few of her personal belongings, and proceed to go up a flight of stairs to view into the room where Mother Teresa sat at her desk and wrote letters, prayed, and lived.

Price – Free

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Kalighat Kali Temple

2. Kalighat Kali Temple

Dedicated to the Hindu goddess of Kali, Kolkata’s Kalighat Kali Temple is one of the most visited and sacred sites in the city. The temple attracts thousands of pilgrims and other Hindu devotees each day. Walking to the temple, you’ll pass through a street that’s packed on both sides with religious items for sale.

The line to get in the actual temple and see the statue of Kali is sometimes crazy long, and you have to remove you shoes to get in. However, you can choose to just walk around the outside of the temple, and the interior outer side, with your shoes on.

Be aware of the many scams that are around the temple. When I entered a nice man (who said he was a Brahmin that worked at the temple) tried to take me around the temple for a tour. After about 10 minutes he brought me to the pool room and gave me a flower. He then pulled out a notebook and asked for a donation to the temple. The ridiculous thing was that in the notebook, which was shown clearly visible so that I could see, was a list of other travelers that had donated and the amount. John from USA – 3,000 Rupees, Mark from France – 5,000 Rupees, and so on (clearly absurd and fake donations). He then asked me to write how much I would donate – pressured by what others had given. Having read about this exact scam, I was prepared and walked away.

Price – Free

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South Park Street Cemetery

3. South Park Street Cemetery

Looking for one of the spookiest things to do in Kolkata? Head on over to the South Park Street Cemetery. Right off the busy (and loud) Park street, I was surprised how quiet and peaceful it was within this decaying ancient cemetery. The cemetery was set up in 1767 and includes around 1,600 tombs.

If the weeping trees and the moss covered tombs aren’t already scary enough, the occasional squawk of a crow will make things a little freakier!

Price – Free, but they’ll ask for an official donation – I gave 30 INR

things to do in kolkata Top 11 Things To Do in Kolkata (Calcutta), India

New Market

4. New Market (Sir Stuart Hogg Market)

One of the top things to do in Kolkata is explore the Sir Stuart Hogg Market, which is more commonly referred to just as New Market.

Inside the market itself is sort of just like any other market in the world, there are sections for just about anything you could want. But the real beauty of New Market is the chaotic action that surrounds the market on all sides.

Delicious restaurants, Kolkata street food stalls, pushcart transporters, and swarms of people are a few of the interesting things to observe. The action seems to never slow down.

If you are staying in the popular backpacker area of Sudder street, the New Market is just a 1 minute walk away.

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Victoria Memorial Hall

5. Victoria Memorial Hall

Rather than being in West Bengali, when visiting the Victoria Memorial Hall, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to Europe. The iconic structure in Kolkata is dedicated to Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom who is also referred to as the Empress of India.

Along with its British and European architecture, the hall also includes some Mughal Indian design elements. Victoria Memorial is 103 meters in length, 69 meters wide, and 56 meters high.

Victoria Memorial is now open to the public for its surrounding gardens and interior museum.

Price – 8 INR for garden

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Mullik Ghat Flower Market in Kolkata, India

6. Mullik Ghat Flower Market

Located directly under the Howrah Bridge is the bustling Mullik Ghat flower market. The market, which is open all hours of the day, is a lively scene of bright yellow and orange flowers. Vendors and porters continually walk and run up and down the market, auctioning off their stock. Makes a great place to take photos.

Walking across the Howrah Bridge, which is one of the world’s busiest pedestrian bridges, is another one of the top things to do in Kolkata. After browsing and observing the flower market, take a walk across the bridge for great views of Kolkata, the Hooghly River, and the constant stream of people crossing the bridge while carrying giant loads.

Price – Free

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Indian Museum – Kolkata

7. Indian Museum

Kolkata’s Indian Museum is one of the most significant, and the first museum to be founded in India. The huge museum has collections and galleries spanning many different subjects; Archeology, art, geology, and even an exhibition on Egypt (and a mummy) can be found in the museum.

Especially on the weekends, the Indian Museum can be pretty packed – so either go early to avoid the crowds or just enjoy it with the crowds.

Price – 150 INR

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Belur Math Temple

8. Belur Math

Unlike the chaos and constant scams around the Khalighat Kali Temple, Belur Math is clean, peaceful, safe, and a perfect place to relax.

The Temple, located on the banks of the Hooghly River (branches off from the Ganges), was founded by Swami Vivekananda and is now the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Math religious organization. The temple incorporates architecture and designs from Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity.

You can choose to walk around the gardens, and if you choose to enter the temple, you can securely leave your shoes (for free) at the shoe counter. Photography is strictly prohibited at Belur Math and they have plenty of security guards making sure you don’t snap any photos.

I took a taxi from the Sudder street area to Belur Math for 200 INR.

Price – Free

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Dakshineswar Kali Temple

9. Dakshineswar Kali Temple

On the opposite side of the Hooghly River and a boat ride away is Kolkata’s Dakshineswar Kali Temple. The huge Hindu temple attracts big crowds of worshippers and Hindus that bathe in the adjacent river. Seeing the temple, it almost looked like a painting to me.

The entire compound is sort of like a fair, set up with lots of Kolkata street food snacks, shopping stalls, and plenty of Hindu religious objects for sale.

Note: After visiting Belur Math, I walked down to the river pier and caught a boat upstream to Dakshineswar Kali Temple. On the public boat it takes about 20 minutes and costs just 10 INR per person. Also, heading back to Sudder street, I took a taxi for 300 INR.

Price – Free

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Teretti Morning Market

10. Terreti Morning Market (Bazar)

The first morning I arrived in Kolkata, I woke up quite early, put on my clothes and headed out to find some breakfast – it was about 7:30 am – and there wasn’t anything happening but a few people bathing on the street and a lots of people huddled around fires: no breakfast.

I soon realized India doesn’t wake up too early, especially in the winter.

But there is one local market in Kolkata that’s known for its breakfast, often attracting hungry diners that have just finished a night of partying: Terreti Market (Bazar).

Every morning along Sun Yat-sen Street, both Chinese and Indian vendors set up stalls and serve up a mouthwatering array of momo dumplings, Chinese baozi, and soup noodles. You’ll also find fresh fruits and vegetables, fish and meat. Having breakfast at Terreti Market is one of the top things to do in Kolkata.

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Kolkata Street Food

11. Kolkata Street Food

There are plenty of things to do and see in Kolkata, but as a lover of all things food, there’s nothing more rewarding than hitting the sidewalks for a bite of Kolkata street food.

Vendors are friendly and willing to serve you their delicious creations. From one man run snacks like ghugni chaat and pani puri, to full meals of rice and curry, your taste buds will rejoice. After you’re stuffed, don’t forget to nurse down a cup of chai in a clay cup or slurp down a mango lassi.

Now, here’s a video…

(Note: if you can’t see it, watch 11 things to do in Kolkata here)

Have a great time exploring Kolkata, and take a look at my Kolkata travel guide article for many more useful tips.

Do you love food and travel too?

If so, I'd love to give you my FREE street food guide, "41 Irresistible Meals You'll Travel to Eat," plus you'll receive exclusive street food updates (it's free)!

Comments

  1. says

    You have certainly seen more in Kolkata now then I have seen in my multiple visits to the city!! The Howrah Bridge is also one of the things that I love in Kolkata. Then there is a science city which is spread in a large area and I love being there!
    This is one fabulous post Mark :)

    • says

      Thanks for reading Arti. I really enjoyed my stay in Kolkata, it’s such a interesting and old city. I agree, the Howrah Bridge is quite a sight to see!

  2. says

    This brought back a few memories of Kolkata as I spent three days there. The most prominent recollection is my experience at the Kalighat temple. They tried the exact same scam on me. The man’s seriousness was hilarious. I gave him the bag of bananas I’d bought a little while prior, and walked away. I remember the area around the temple to be fascinating as I witnessed some very hopeful (or hopeless souls), like nothing I’ve seen anywhere.

  3. says

    Having born and brought up in the city, I was moved to see your post this morning. Thanks for taking me back to my city through your post. At times, we don’t realize the beauty of our own homes, until a neighbour comes and tells us how beautiful it is, you just did the same. Thanks again for making me relive my moments in the city of Joy

  4. says

    Ohhhh, this makes me miss Kolkata so much! I lived on Southern Avenue for a year, walking distance away from the Kali Temple. My favorite scam was the guys who would “lead” you to the temple and then ask for money when you arrived. I mean, it was helpful the first time, but after we knew our way there, we weren’t about to pay!

  5. Melissa Zhiss says

    Thanks so much for your great video! My daughter, who is in 3rd grade, is doing a project on Kolkata and it was helpful to hear the sound and see the sites of the city!

  6. jeremy aruldoss says

    Great video Mark! i’m heading down to Kolkata in early May for a friend’s wedding and I’m sure i will check out the places you mentioned. Have you tried visiting the other areas in West Bengal..

    • says

      Hey Jeremy, thanks a lot for watching. No haven’t been to other areas of West Bengal, but would love to. Are you going to spend some time traveling around there after the wedding?

  7. Jaideep Lahiri says

    Mark, loved this video and shared the same on my FB post. Thanks for projecting such a cheery picture OK Calcutta. Foreigners usually get taken aback with the poverty but you chose to show the positives. May your tribe increase!

    • says

      Hello Jaideep, great to hear from you, and thank you for your support. Despite the poverty and hardships in Calcutta, it’s such an incredible city, I really loved it. Are you from Calcutta?

  8. Shovon says

    Hi there

    I admire your Guts …really! :)
    I am an indian living in europe and my parents stay in kolkata. so I go there at least once a year to visit them. when I was in india (back during the formative years) I would eat the street food happily with no clams . But today (after staying 20 years outside india) I would just NOT venture in the street food arcade that you have tried above :) . I would not know how and when this changed for me (anyway irrelevant) but as I see it , you do have the Guts :)

    and did I say , this was a nice site for all us the foodies that we are :).

    Thanks

  9. Manu says

    Hi..
    I am planning to visit Kolkata this September
    For a visitor Like me its ” A ENCYCLOPEDIA OF A KOLKATA”
    because I am going to there for the first time .
    Thanks Mark Wiens..
    Supr GO on…

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