This guided city tour takes you to some of the magnificent places in the beautiful city of Kolkata. If you ask us why pick the former Indian capital as the destination to whet your appetite, then here is why.
What could have moved the British so much that they decided to make the Presidency of Calcutta their capital? Could it be the weather, the fact that its people were better educated and more intellectual than other places in India, or that there were more ‘English’ speaking natives here than most other states, or just that they were really ‘sweet’ (pun intended)? Perhaps it was all of the above, as well as the fact that Kolkata boasted of an unparalleled cultural milieu, inclusive and inviting like no other Indian city.
People and Cultures of Kolkata
Long before the British, Armenians came to India in or around the 7th century, escaping from the Turks and Persians. They traded in fabrics and precious stones, and were chiefly involved in trade and commerce, so much so that by the 18th and 19th century they operated shipping lines, real estate, hotels, coal mines and trading companies. In 1724, the Armenian Holy Church of Nazareth was established in Kolkata, and it was the seat of Vicariate of Armenia in the East. The Church is still very much there in the north-west corner of Barabazaar, the oldest surviving church in Kolkata, and neither the Church nor the quiet oasis of trees it offers around it are something to be missed. The Armenian College and Philanthropic Academy in Kolkata is almost 200 years old and is attended by Armenians from all over the world, although there are only a few hundred Armenians living in Kolkata today.
They couldn’t possibly be so close and resist settling in India, could they? So although several Chinese settlers came to India in the late 18th century, it was only after 1920 that the settlement in the area of Tangra came into being in Kolkata. Tangra is Kolkata’s Chinatown, housing the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Monastery and several Chinese restaurants. The work of the Chinese in Kolkata started with manufacturing and trade of leather, and of course, food. Tiretta Bazaar in eastern Kolkata houses about 2000 Chinese people – of Cantonese and Hakka Chinese origin- and therefore offers a culinary treat for those who love Chinese food!
Parsis have stayed true to the promise made by them at the time of entering India – that they will be like sugar that will dissolve in the pure milk like India, that they will not desecrate, over populate or stand out as obnoxious, and will only make the milk sweeter. Hard working, adept and intelligent, the Parsi community grew and prospered in Kolkata (and also in Mumbai). In 1822, the ‘dakhma’ or the tower of silence was built in Kolkata, in line with the Zoroastrian funeral beliefs, offering their dead to the vultures and ensuring that nothing is wasted, even after death. In 1912, the Fire Temple was built at 91, Metcalfe Street in Kolkata, and still exists as on date. There are only 600 odd Parsis in Kolkata today, of which about half are senior citizens. The Parsi community in Kolkata is slowly disappearing, owing to migration, late marriages or no marriages, high divorce rates etc. Inter caste marriages are discouraged, and once married outside the community, you are no longer a Parsi. In fact, Parsis do not indulge in conversion since their religion does not allow it, dwindling their numbers even further.
Muslims migrated to Kolkata from the 1800s, as a result of the terrible conditions in Bihar, Agra and Oudh. Owing to the large number of children per family, inter caste marriages, conversions etc., Muslims constitute a large part of Kolkata and there are actually almost 450 mosques in Kolkata. The ones not to be missed are the beautiful Nakhoda Masjid on Zakariya Street, built in 1926; the Tipu Sultan mosque built in 1832 and magnificent in its Indo-Islamic architecture; and the Rajabazaar Barri Masjid. The only Shia mosque in Kolkata is the Karbala Mosque in Metiabruz. The Tipu Sultan Masjid can be enjoyed and appreciated by people of all faiths, and the holy month of Ramadan sees an intermingling of the secular fabric of Kolkata at this mosque, where everyone enjoys the spectacular savouries.
Since the British were here for 200 hundred years, they mingled with the locals and many of them stayed behind when the rest of them left. Some British structures which cannot be missed are the Victoria Memorial Hall, the GPO, High Court of Calcutta and Raj Bhavan. The city hosts an International Anglo-Indian Reunion and has approximately 20,000-30,000 Anglo-Indians. They are completely absorbed in the Kolkattan culture, even speaking fluent Hindi and Bengali.
Explore religious heritage of Kolkata
What is fantastic about Kolkata’s culture is that people of all origins came and settled here a long time back and over thousands over years, and consistently contributed their own bit to the city, be it by way of their food, clothing, architecture, religious institutions. And they still coexist and mingle today, making the fabric of Kolkata rich and vibrant like no other.
Please give us 2 days’ notice when you book this tour. It’s available on any day of the week, except Sundays. The entire tour will take 3-4 hours, and we will have you picked and dropped in an air conditioned vehicle with a driver. The earliest the tour may start is 09 AM, and the last tour will leave at 2 PM. An English speaking guide as well as a bottle of complimentary water, both critical for these tours, will be complimentary.
- INR 3,745/- per adult (Prices are based on booking by a minimum of two adults. Even if one adult books, minimum cost will be for two, so we suggest you bring along a loved one.)
- INR 1,873/- per child (5-11 years of age)
Cancellation and Refund
- 10 days prior to the date on which the excursion is booked – 90% fee refund
- Within 5-9 days of the excursion date – 75% fee refund;
- Within 2-4 days of the excursion date – 50% fee refund;
- With less than 2 days or if you don’t show up – No refund