Why You Should Visit Kolkata (Calcutta)
Kolkata is our last stop in India, so we feeling equal parts exhausted and sentimental about India. We came here from 10 degree Darjeeling and hit the 39 degree heat with mixed emotions; we wanted it to be warmer, but does it have to be this warm?! Typical Brits. The first thing you should know about Kolkata, is that the accommodation is expensive, and of a much lower quality than anywhere else we've been in India. We settled on Hotel Shams on Tottee Lane off the backpacker fave Sudder Street. It's a little hobbit house upstairs, with a great vibe and friendly staff. It's also great value for this area -- we had a huge fan room with attached shower and wi fi (fast) for 700 rupees. We highly recommend it here.
One of the first things we did, was sleep. Then we went to the incredible Mullik Ghat flower market under the Howrah bridge. The market runs 24/7, selling anything from beautiful bunches of lotus flowers to the orange garlands you see as temple offerings. Women and men carry hefty bags of flowers, or even oil on their heads....
We also checked out the Victoria Memorial. This was built for Queen Victoria about 10 years when she died, in 1901, and was finally finished in 1921. It was the brainchild of Lord Curzon and was built using hefty donations from India as well as Britain. In fact, a lot of the marble was transported for free.
The museum is great, and has a wealth of information. It's also seriously cool, so worth a trip just for that. But the real gem is the building itself, and the gardens around it -- it's stunning, and similar in the white dome shaped style, to the Taj Mahal.
One of the most shocking things in Kolkata, is the poverty. Poverty can be seen everywhere in India, but it seems more raw in Kolkata. Amongst the beggars, you will also see hand drawn rickshaw drivers.....which westerners rarely get We didn't either, it just felt too wrong. The drivers are often really poor though, and will help you find a place to stay (for a tip) or try to sell you a bell.
One of our favourite things about Kolkata, was the amazing street food. We pretty much solely ate street food, bar the times we needed to sit down/enjoy air con. One of the highlights for us, was Kati rolls. These are basically bread, fried in egg stuffed with whatever you want (paneer, chicken, mutton etc) and rolled up. Hot Kati Roll on Park street was our fave. We were spoilt for choice with chai shops but this dude (affectionately called 'the kid' by Oli) did the best. Other highlights included banana and peanut butter grilled sarnie so for breakfast, golgappa (pani-puri) which is a half shell stuffed with mashed potato and chickpeas. Amazing. None of these meals cost us more than 50 rupees (50p).
Farewell India, we miss you already xx