by Ronjinee Chattopadhyay
Kolkata – the city that draws everyone in. As a local myself, I’m never not taken by surprise when Kolkata yields yet another delightful experience to all those who choose to stay with it. While years aren’t enough to ‘finish exploring’ the city, I tried to put together a day-long itinerary for you, packing in quite a bit of the authentic Kolkata experience.
This itinerary will take you through South Kolkata – an upmarket area in the city which embodies the rugged finesse that best defines Kolkata.
One of the premier points of the city, South Kolkata is where you will find people clambering onto buses and auto rickshaws, bargaining over groceries to the point of losing their breath, fervently discussing sports and politics over a steaming cup of cha (tea) or a plate of the renowned fish fry at Sankar’s. It is also where people gather to make their voices heard, take the choicest picks from hoards of artisanal goods, to celebrate their love for the arts and for all things Bangali, including the food. Especially the food.
So, if you’re a shopping junkie, lover of the arts, and a devotee of delish food, this one-day plan to explore South Kolkata is perfect for you!
Get Your Money’s Worth At Dakshinapan
This shopping complex in Dhakuria is famous, and quite rightly so. What sets it apart is the state emporiums it houses. You can get yourself traditional Meenakari earrings from the Rajasthan Emporium outlet, maybe a piece or two of Phulkari dupattas, Khadi textiles, Dokra handicraft – all at very reasonable prices, without compromising a bit on quality.
What makes Dakshinapan a refreshing break from the polished malls we are used to visiting is its ambience. It is an open-air complex, with a homely and welcoming feel to it. Small eateries are open almost all the time, and are crowd favourites. Be sure to drop by at Dolly’s Tea Shop, Kolkata’s first tea boutique which continues to be immensely popular even after the recent demise of its founder, Dolly Roy.
Catch A Play At Madhusudan Mancha
Just beside the shopping complex is one of the many auditoriums of the city – Madhusudan Mancha, named after the great poet Michael Madhusudan Dutta. If you’re a theatre aficionado, or would like a taste of the city’s cultural scene, there are very few places you should rather be in. Kolkata has a rich history of theatre, and a vibrant variety of theatre groups continue to dedicatedly work to carry on the legacy.
You can check for shows and available tickets online, or directly book them from the ticket counters.
A Celebration, At All Times
If theatre is not your cup of tea, or if you’re short on time, feel free to spend a few minutes roaming around the auditorium complex. You might find a group of chatty youngsters, some talented hip-hoppers or a musician playing his banjo. These small delights are what lend Kolkata its unique charm – the city is always up to something, although there’s nothing really going on.
If you’d like to spend a quieter evening, head over to Rabindra Sarobar – a serene lake which is only a short distance away from the complex. Apart from being a repository of some of the most majestically beautiful trees and shrubs, the lake is probably one of the largest such water bodies in the city. Sitting here, you’ll witness Kolkata unfiltered. Some come here to squeeze in their daily dose of exercise, some to steal a few moments with their partners before life gets to them again, while some are happy to capture the beauty of the environs with their lenses. All of them share the same space and moments, beautiful in their mundanity.
A word of caution : Kolkata is notorious for its mosquitoes, so maybe carry a repellent when going to the lake. It closes at 8 PM, after which you can treat yourself to a sumptuous dinner at one of the many eateries in the area.
South Kolkata is the new hub for budding food joints and eateries. We point you to some of the classic places where you can feast to your heart’s content. There’s something for everyone!
Bijoli Grill, Southern Avenue
If you’d like to savour authentic Bengali food, this is THE place. You can gorge on popular Bengali snacks like fish fry, dim’er devil (devilled eggs), fish kabiraji (called so because of the ‘coverage’ that coats the fish. Coverage to kabiraji, get the similarity?), with a side of the best kasundi (Bengali mustard) in the city. Apart from the traditional Bengali fare, you also have some of the best continental food in town here. Must tries are the Chicken A La Kiev, Fish Orley and Baked Fish.
Tamarind, Deshapriya Park
If you’re craving spicy, tangy Andhra food or some of the softest appams and creamiest stews, this is where you should come. Our top picks would be the Ambat Dal, Mutton/Vegetable Stew and the Chicken Pepper Fry. The appams are served fresh one after the other – it’s impossible to say no!
Oudh 1590, Deshapriya Park
This chain serves food fit for royalty. Come here if you’re in the mood to relish the best kebabs and the most delectable of biryanis in Kolkata. Apart from the famous Kolkata biryani, they also whip up Awadhi and Lucknowi Biryanis. Along with that, they have the softest, melt-in-your-mouth Galauti kebabs and a pineapple raita that is a complementary accompaniment to every meal.
Note : You might need to walk a bit more than a mile after a meal here. Rest assured it’ll be well worth the effort!
Know Before You Go
The City of Joy will make sure you’re well looked after. When in town, you can put up at any hotel, guest house, or even a homestay. There are affordable guest houses and hotels all over the city, specifically in the Park Street area. But, of course, homestays are the best if you want the complete experience of Bangali hospitality. Homestays in Jodhpur Park and Ballygunge will let you savour all the joys of South Kolkata, while also offering a pocket of peace in the heart of the bustling city.
Featured video : Tridip the Shutterbug
Also read : Bijapur for Food Lovers
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