Visiting Calcutta: Where India and England Collide

Updated on August 20, 2018
Mohamed Leen profile image

Mohamed is currently studying in India, and he loves taking every opportunity to explore the country's wonders.

One of the signature yellow Ambassador Classic cabs that roam through the streets in Calcutta.
One of the signature yellow Ambassador Classic cabs that roam through the streets in Calcutta.

India is quite the destination for people who are looking to explore new cultures and immerse themselves in the raw and rugged environment and lifestyle of locals. On this vast subcontinent, there is always something new and exciting around every single corner. Whatever you seek to find, be it architecture, food, adventure, a deeper understanding of the country's history or just a plain old good time, the options are infinite and endless.

While studying here in India, I have been blessed with the opportunity to discover many of these wonders, and I have taken great pleasure in visiting one city, in particular—Calcutta.

On the eve of a crisp December Tuesday, I disembarked from an eight-hour train ride at the Howrah Railway Station and was immediately mesmerized by the hustle and bustle around me; Calcutta was positively teeming with people. The distinct yellow cabs endemic to the city swarmed the roads at a snail’s pace, thanks to frequent traffic jams. We had barely gotten out of the railway station, and it was already obvious—this was going to be one crazy and fun trip!

The mainland is always so upbeat and fast moving.
The mainland is always so upbeat and fast moving.

Calcutta Is Not a Quiet, Sleepy City

Calcutta being quite the overpopulated city, the first thing you notice is its people. One could argue about the cheerfulness and friendliness of its citizens. Everybody seemed to be intent on going about their day, trying to make it through the chaos. Unlike some other places, people in Calcutta aren’t overbearing, and we were able to have our moments of peace.

At this point, I have come to realize that the attitude of locals towards you depends on whether they realize that you are a foreigner. Coming from the South Asian region, it is hard to differentiate me from the locals, so most of the people we interacted with were quite nice and helpful.

A vendor in Kalighat selling a variety of different flowers.
A vendor in Kalighat selling a variety of different flowers.

During our stay in the city, we resided in Alipore, where we were hosted by family friends. We mostly hung around in the Park Street district and roamed through the areas on the west bank of the Hooghly River.

Weaving through the streets, you get the essence of what India is all about. Your senses are always overloaded; the sound of traffic and honking horns fills your ears while the pungent smells of the street mix with the savory aromas of street food, making your mouth water and your stomach grumble.

The City's Architecture Is Astounding

There are many sights to see and things to do in Calcutta. The most prominent site we visited was definitely the Victoria Memorial Hall. It was built back in the early 1900s to honor Queen Victoria of England. The impressive Indo-Saracenic style of the architecture simply blew me away, and the surroundings were pleasant, encouraging us to relax and loosen up.

We also visited St. Paul’s Cathedral, which was my first time in a cathedral; it was exciting and awe-inspiring. The architecture of the cathedral had a similar tone to the Victoria Memorial, with a Gothic overlay.

While we are talking about buildings, the way that traditional Indian building styles and English architecture have come together and blended to form a well-balanced emotional composition that fits so well into the city is quite incredible.

Victoria Memorial Hall
Victoria Memorial Hall

The Museums, Planetariums, and Parks Are Delightful

The Indian Museum and Birla Planetarium are also among the places we visited. There, we got to educate ourselves on the history of India as well as that of our universe. We also did a little shopping here and there in the market areas, which were scattered along the west bank of the river. We also went thrill-seeking at the Nicco amusement park and played billiards, boated and cycled in the famed Eco Park. With such a flurry of activity, four days seemed to pass by quite fast.

View of the lake at Eco Park
View of the lake at Eco Park

Public Transportation Is Cheap, but Rather Uncomfortable

As I said earlier, Calcutta is a densely populated city, and this means that public transport can sometimes become difficult and uncomfortable. In spite of this, we mostly travelled between districts via bus. The bus network is cheap and well established. However, it can get quite crowded, so prepare to be packed in like a sardine, and remember to be mindful of your belongings. A metro railway is also available, but there is only one line so far. More lines are due to be built in the near future.

The Regional Dishes and Sweet Treats Are Incredible

Calcutta is famous for its delectable cuisine, and we got to enjoy a lot of it during our stay. While we mostly ate at the house, we tried a lot of street foods and local food stalls. I particularly remember the puchkas, which is the Bengali name for pani puri, a crispy, hollow bread with a potato-based filling and flavored water inside. Calcutta has become my personal favorite place for these bite-sized flavor bombs. We also tried kathi rolls, pakora and jhalmuri, among other things. We tried kathi rolls at Nizam’s restaurant, the birthplace of the original kathi roll; they are simply unbeatable.

Let's not forget the sweets! If you have a sweet tooth, then Calcutta is surely the right place for you. You can find every imaginable variety of sweets made of milk and nuts, and what’s more, they are pretty cheap. These little treats will blow your taste buds.

The kathi rolls at Nizam's restaurant are out of this world!
The kathi rolls at Nizam's restaurant are out of this world!

Travelling in Calcutta Is Quite Cheap

During the four days we were on this exhilarating trip, we spent about $75 USD per person, including train fares. Our costs were minimal as accommodation was free, and we had most of the meals at the house. Nevertheless, travelling in Calcutta is fairly inexpensive, and I would highly recommend the city for budget travelers looking to have a good time and experience the true essence of India.

Starfruit is one the more refreshing and healthy street foods you can try in Calcutta.
Starfruit is one the more refreshing and healthy street foods you can try in Calcutta.

Although we visited Calcutta during the Christmas holidays, we didn’t stick around for Christmas, thus missing out on the festivities. I wish we had stayed around a bit longer to see the famous celebrations that go on in the Park Street area on Christmas. However, it was still a great trip, and Calcutta is just an eight-hour train ride away. Maybe I will visit again during the upcoming Christmas holidays. What do you think? Until the next adventure, take care!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Mohamed Leen profile imageAUTHOR

      Mohamed Leen Abdulla 

      23 months ago from Bubaneswar, India

      Thank you very much! I am glad you enjoyed it :D

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      23 months ago from UK

      This is an interesting article with great illustrations. Thanks for sharing your experience.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)