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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Guest Post: 24 hours in Calcutta, India

If you're like me and never really had a huge desire to go to India, this piece will certainly change your mind.  I know it did for me.  In fact...if you go to my Wish List, I think you might see India as one of the new destinations on there.  Thank you so much for Debasri for this great story.  You can find her at her blog, Debasri Deb.

Here is a little bit about her before you can jump right into the Calcutta experience:
Debasri is a Fashion & Lifestyle Blogger writing about Fashion, Lifestyle and everything in between. A confused soul since childhood, the only thing she is sure of, is her passion and her undying love for her blog, A lousy Science student and a crappy engineer, Debasri finally discovered what she was good at, and that was marketing. After a short two year stint in the corporate world, working for start-ups, she wished to do something of her own. And hence, the blog. 
She is petite and pear shaped. After spending her initial years being body-shamed, a target of name callings, and trying to blend in with the crowd, she now considers herself a Ninja raising her voice against any sort of discrimination and bullying. 
Get in touch with her here: 

And without any further delay, off you go to Calcutta, India.
24 Hours in Calcutta, India
India, a country which you can’t describe in one word. It is diverse and identical at the same time. 29 states, nearly 880 languages still in use and with a population count of approximately 1.34 billion; this is a country where we claim to have unity in diversity. 
Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta, served as the capital of British held territories in India till 1911 after which New Delhi took over. I have a love-hate relation with this city. Having been brought up in a different city in a state at the other end of the country, I never thought I would be back here. But as they say, you go back to your roots and here I am. 
In this post, I will take you through an entire day of Kolkata. This is not an itinerary. It is what I would make you do if you ever happen to come here. 
So, without further ado, a raise of hands by all the pork lovers. I am sure there are many, myself included. Start the day by visiting Tiretti Bazaar at 6 in the morning. Yes, you have to wake up early for this. For all the late risers like me, trust me, this is something worth setting your alarm for.
Tiretti Bazaar
This is a place where you will get the most delectable homemade Chinese food at reasonably low prices. Delicious dim sum, yummy pork buns, homemade sausages, nothing like starting your morning with an overfed stomach, right?  
After a heavy breakfast, a morning stroll at the Prinsep Ghat overlooking the river Ganges is what you need. The view is lovely in the morning. You can take a walk along the banks sipping hot tea from bhaar (earthen pot) or sit on the stairs, earphones plugged in and staring at everything and nothing at the same time. Sometimes it's liberating to do absolutely nothing.  
The river Ganges

The second Hooghly Bridge
The bhaar (earthen pot) to have tea.
After you are done doing nothing, head for some famous tourist places. Start off by visiting Victoria Memorial. This building was created in the memory of Queen Victoria and is now a museum and serves as a huge attraction for the tourists and a perfect photography spot for us. ;) Jokes apart, this is a stunning marble building. Even if you don't want to go in, it is still worth admiring from afar. 
Victoria Memorial

After Victoria Memorial, pay a visit to the St. Pauls Cathedral, the largest cathedral in Kolkata. It is in direct line of sight from the Victoria Memorial. The architectural design of the cathedral is indo-gothic, a gothic architectural style designed to fit in the Indian climate. It also has a library built inside. 
St. Pauls Cathedral
We, the people of Kolkata are famous for our love of food. Have lunch at one of the heritage restaurants, Peter Cat, situated at the heart of the city, Park Street. Peter Cat is one of the oldest restaurants in the city, going back to the sixties, and that speaks a lot. The interior boasts of a rich history and the food does justice to this city. Peter Cat's signature dish, the Iranian style Chelo Kebab is worth mentioning. You can't come to Kolkata and not have Chelo Kebab. It’s like going to Naples and not having Pizza! 
Chelo Kebab
After lunch, it’s time for some street shopping. If you are up for some incredibly cheap shopping, then being pushed and shoved in the crowd is the price to pay. New Market will be best defined as a sprawling maze offering a wide variety of goods. It is easy to get lost there, so you would be better off with a local guide. Bargain is the middle name of New Market. You have to bargain your asses off. Time passes by like a river flow here and you might end up quite exhausted.  
Chelo Kebab
After such hard work, you deserve some peace and quality time in this bustling city. Time to go back to Prinsep Ghat for a peaceful boat ride in the Ganges. Prinsep Ghat in the evening is unrecognizable. The illuminated Hooghly Bridge is a sight to see.  

The illuminated Hooghly Bridge from Prinsep Ghat
Boating on the river Ganges at Prinsep Ghat
And if you are looking for a local’s secret, people sometimes attempt to take a bottle of beer or two and have it on the boat in the middle of the river. Though a hush-hush affair, it’s an absolute bliss.   
After getting your spent up energy back and the sweat from the shopping has all but dried up, it’s time for some fun now. If you are in the mood to listen to live bands while enjoying a peg of whiskey/rum, or a pint of beer, Someplace Else in The Park Hotel is the place to be. A British colonial styled pub, it is famous for its live band performances every night. After getting buzzed, you can dance the night off at Roxy in the same building. And if like me, you are an aficionado of pub hopping, then head off to Bar Stock Exchange from Roxy and then to Myx and end the night on a really high note (pun intended).  
This was one day in my city with me. A city nicknamed the “city of joy”.   
“Calcutta is not for everyone.   
You want your city clean and green, stick to Delhi.  
You want your city rich and impersonal, go to Bombay.  
You want them hi-tech and full of draught beer, Bangalore’s your place.  
But if you want a city with a soul, come to Calcutta”
This city has its own pros and cons like every other city, but if you ever decide on coming here, do contact me and I will be your city guide with all its secrets; even the dirty ones ;)