Info of India & Travel India

Hotels in Kolkota
 
 
 

Visit Kolkata - Calcutta

      
Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) is the capital of West Bengal and the second largest city in India (after Mumbai). If Bangalore is the Seattle of India, than Kolkata is the sub-contintent's New York. It is an 'in your face' city that shocks and charms the unsuspecting visitor. Abject poverty mix inexplicably with crumbling British Raj-era gems, sprawling gardens and historical colleges. Long known as the cultural capital of India, Kolkata continues to spawn generations of poets, writers, film producers and Nobel Prize winners. If your trip only allows for a visit of one or two of India's metropolitan cities, than definitely consider placing Kolkata on your itinerary. Love it or hate it, you definitely won't forget the city on the Hooghly.

How to get in Kolkotta.

By plane

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport  (IATA: CCU) connects Kolkata with South East Asia and receives some flights from Europe but is surprisingly small for a city of this size and hasn't been refurbished since the 1950s, although it is expected to be updated by 2011. The domestic terminal, on the other hand, is among the best in India. It is undergoing a major face-lift and expansion to cope with the expanding bulk of air traffic and new airline companies popping up almost every month.

Take a prepaid taxi from the airport to the city. It is about 20 km from the city. Expect to pay about Rs. 150-250 depending on your destination. There is a new rail link connecting the airport to the Circular Rail station in Dum Dum, however very few trains actually operate on the line at present.

By train

There are two major railway stations in Kolkata - Howrah (not in Kolkata actually, it's in the adjoining city Howrah) and Sealdah. A new terminus station called 'Kolkata' has also started functioning since 2005, but presently it accommodates very few trains. Directly facing Howrah are ferries (Rs. 4) that can get you to the other side of the river either Babu Ghat or Fairlie Place from where you can arrange onward transportation with anything from taxis to public buses to human rickshaws. With the traffic situation this might actually save you time as well as money.

The Foreign Ticket Office is on Fairlie Place (with the main GPO on your left, take the next left - the office is a few minutes walk on the left) - very helpful and efficient service.

Kolkata is well connected by rail to almost all the big stations in India and also serves as the gateway to the North Eastern India. If you are coming to Kolkata by trains using Sealdah station, you may prefer taking a pre-paid taxi to enter the city. The pre-paid taxi stand is just outside the station's main entrance. The counter is under a tin shade. Pre-paid taxis are reliable and will save you money and also the bargaining hassle. However beware of touts who would claim themselves to be running pre-paid taxis. Always collect the receipt from the counter first. The receipt has two parts - one part is for your reference and the other part you will need to handover to the taxi driver only after you reach your desired destination. The Taxi driver will get his payment by submitting or producing this other part to the Pre-paid Taxi counter.

By car

You can find many cabs on the roads or you can always hire one from the numerous taxi stands strewn across the major cities. There are pre paid taxis also available at major railway stations and airports. You can also hire luxury vehicles from certain travel agencies.

There are many car rental companies available.

By bus

To/from Bangladesh There are numerous bus options between Kolkata and Bangladesh. The most common way is the regular comfortable a/c buses from Dhaka to Kolkata via the Haridaspur / Benapole border post. Private bus companies Shohagh, Green Line, Shyamoli and others operate daily bus services on this route. Govt. buses run under the label of the state owned West Bengal Surface Transport Service Corporation (WBSTSC) and the Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC). WBSTSC and BRTC both operate buses from Kolkata every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 5:30AM and 8:30AM, and 12:30PM while from Dhaka they leave on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 7:00AM and 7:30AM. The normal journey time is around 12 hours with a one-way fare of Rs550 or BDT600-800, roughly $8-12. If you're only headed to Haridaspur the fare is Rs86 (2.5 hours). The Shyamoli Paribahan ticket office is at 6/1 Marquis St (parallel to and one block south of Sudder Street, and just west of Mirza Ghalib St, next door to DHL), 2252 0693. Beware that several travel agencies around this area also sell tickets for these buses, but at very inflated prices. At the border it's best to change money on the Indian side, but count it carefully and double-check the math on their calculator. On the Bangladesh side you can catch a flat-bed cycle-rickshaw for Tk5 for the 2km trip to the bus stand for onward travel - or you can walk, but expect the hopeful rickshaw-wallahs to follow you at least half way.

To/from Eastern India via Bangladesh Bus travel to some points in Eastern India are faster via Bangladesh (please note that visas may be required for entry into Bangladesh as well as for re-entry into India). If you're heading to points in Eastern India (Tripura for example) beyond Bangladesh -- then there is a regular bus service between Dhaka and Agartala, capital of India's Tripura state. Two BRTC buses leave daily from Dhaka and connect with the Tripura Road Transport Corporation vehicles, running six days a week with a roundtrip fare of BDT600 ($10). There is only one halt at Ashuganj in Bangladesh during the journey. Call +880 2 8360241 for schedule. Other entry points to North-Eastern India through Bangladesh are Hili, Chilahati / Haldibari and Banglaband border posts through Northern Bangladesh and Tamabil / Dawki border post for a route between Shillong (Meghalaya) and Sylhet in North-Eastern Bangladesh, and some others with lesser known routes from north-eastern Indian regions. Although scheduled bus-services to Shillong/Meghalaya from Kolkata through Dhaka may not be offered at present -- it is still possible to get to those points via land routes going through Sylhet and then on to Tamabil/Dawki border outposts. Enquire at the Bus Service Counters for details.

Esplanade Bus Station is the Kolkata's main station for inter-state and inter-city buses.

By boat

The river Hooghly that runs through the west of the city offered one of the first reasons to the foundation of the British commercial settlement. The river continues to offer one of the less crowded but slow traffic medium. There are several points (popularly called Ghats and jetties) on the bank of the river from where you can board several regular routes of ferry services. Ferries can be fairly large launches to small improvised motorized boats. They are extremely safe though. Even if you don't get any exotic manual boats like you get in Varanasi, the river transport of the city lets you go to several old spots near the bank in a hassle-free manner with an additional dash of the view of decadent river front of the city.

Get around and Sightseeing of Kolkata.

By taxi

Kolkata just wouldn't look the same without the plethora of yellow ambassador taxis  that ply on its roads. They're easily available and relatively cheap, and will usually use their meters. The meters are, however, outdated.

The fare is 2 times plus Rs 2 the reading if the meter is inside, and 4 times the reading if the meter is outside. However, it is almost impossible now to find any meters outside. All Taxi meters are digital ones which are placed inside the cab. The Meter starts from Rs. 10, which means Rs. 22 actually. There is a "green taxi" which is red coloured (!) and charges the same. In case you are confused always ask to see the chart that the driver is supposed to carry with him. Expect to pay a bit more if you are going to the outskirts of the city or traveling at night. How much more that depends on your bargaining skills, but it should be at most Rs. 10-20 on top of the taxi meter. Unlike other metro cities in India, there is no 50%-100% surcharge for late night hires (10PM-11PM onwards).

If you are lucky enough you can catch an air-conditioned cab, but those are very few in number. Presently one may find 'Orix' or 'Megacabs' taxis on call. These are air-conditioned taxis and the fare about INR 15-20 per km travelled. The telephone numbers to call (once you are in Kolkata, of course) for these taxis are Orix - 44222222 and Megacabs - 41414141.

By metro

Metro Railway, Kolkata  was the first underground rail in India, yet it still has only a single route connecting the north and south of the city, from Dumdum to Garia Bazar. It is the cleanest, most reliable, least crowded and most efficient of all the transportation Kolkata has to offer. Trains run every 10-15 minutes and at Rs 4-8 it's very economical. The line has been extended to Garia Bazar in the south; work is underway to connect Garia which is further south. There is also a East-West line, the work of which is going on full swing. It will connect Salt lake to Howrah station. The two lines will meet at Central station.

Stops include Esplanade (for Chowringhee), Park Street, Maidan (for Victoria Memorial, Planetarium and Middleton Street), Rabindra Sadan (Nandan movie theater, Academy of fine arts, and other famous galleries), Kalighat for world famous Kali temple, and "Girish Park" for Jorashako Thakur bari, the residence of Rabindranath Tegore and other Tagore giants.

 By tram

Calcutta Tramways  is the only tram service in all of India, and the oldest surviving electric tram network of Asia. Though decommissioned in some part of the city, electric trams are still one of the means of traveling between places within the city. They move slow on the laid tracks in traffic jammed streets, but they are environment friendly (no emission). Check their site for routes and schedules.

By train

The electrified suburban rail network of the SER and the ER is extensive and includes the Circular Rail.

By bus

The city has an extensive bus network (possibly the most exhaustive in the whole of India), and this is the cheapest, though not always the most comfortable means of transport. Among the buses that ply the city streets, the deluxe buses run by CSTC (Calcutta State Transport Corporation), CTC (Calcutta Tramways Company) and WBSTC (West Bengal Surface Transport Corporation) are probably the better option. A/C buses are also available to select destinations from near the airport.
By auto-rickshaw

Shared auto-rickshaws are available from different points. They travel in fixed routes and the fare is fixed(although you might find the driver charging a little more as the darkness sets in). They are supposed to take four persons, three in the back seat and one sharing the driver's seat!

By rickshaw

Long the world's only major metropolis where human-pulled rickshaws were still a major form of transport, a complete ban was supposed to be imposed in November 2006 - but with 35,000 union members who are unlikely to disappear overnight it was not implemented.

Hiring a car

Privately owned rental car places are available throughout the city. Rates depend on the make, model, size and comfort level of the car. Agreements are flexible, for example, cars can be rented even for couple of hours at an hourly rate. Most rental cars are accompanied with a driver from the rental agency. Here are contacts of a few rental car agents:

* Kolkata Cab, +91 33 4422 2222
* Travel Cars, +91 33 2249 4970 Queens Mansion, Garage No. 8, Park Street.
* Time Cabs, +91 33 2247 9574 13, Camac Street.
* Wenz, +91 33 227 8926, Oberoi Grand Hotel.
* Hertz Pearl Carzonrent PVT Ltd, +91 33 3240-4000/5000 or 09830999555

Hotels in Kolkota

Kolkata Hotels by surrounding cities, local city and area:- Armenian Ghat *** National Library *** BBD Bagh (Dalhousie Square) *** Howrah Bridge *** St. Paul's Cathedral *** Milennium Park *** Asiatic Society *** Mohun Bagan Ground *** Belur Math *** Academy of Fine Arts *** Milennium Park *** Ratan Babu Ghat *** Eden Gardens *** Jadavpur University *** Fort William *** Alipore Zoo *** Kalighat *** Calcutta General Post Office *** Botanical Gardens (Kolkata) *** Maidan *** Victoria Memorial *** New Market *** Chandpal Ghat *** Birla Planetarium *** Nakhoda Masjid *** Salt Lake Stadium *** Park Street Cemetery *** St. Xavier's College (Kolkata) *** University of Calcutta *** Raj Bhavan (Kolkata) *** Mohammedan Sporting Ground *** Rabindra Sarobar Stadium *** Marble Palace *** Shahid Minar *** Indian Museum *** Kumartuli Ghat