Two days discovering the British-colonial heritage buildings and commercial core of Kolkata in West Bengal State of India. Kolkata, historically known in English as Calcutta, served as the former capital of India under the British Raj and East India Company.

Kolkata was my entry point to India. I only planned to stay one night in the city. It was just enough time to see a bit of the city and then head straight to a more countryside setting. I visited many beautiful and well-maintained buildings in The Maidan and BBD Bagh as well as experience the busy market streets of Barabazar.

On my last day, I crossed the Hooghly River by local ferry to get to Howrah Railway Station, one of the biggest and busiest railway station in all of India and then went aboard an overnight train to Gaya, the gateway to Bodhgaya.

Itinerary Rundown

  • In and around Bangkok
  • Thailand: Bangkok and Ayutthaya
Day 1
  • Kolkata
  • Bangkok to Kolkata Flight
  • India Visa on Arrival Application
  • Kolkata Airport to City Center by Metro
  • In and Around The Maidan
Day 2
  • Kolkata
  • Sudder Street to Howrah Railway Station
  • In and Around Barabazar and BBD Bagh
  • Kolkata to Gaya by Train
  • Bodhdaya: Mahabodhi Temple
  • Northern India
  • South and Southeast Asia

Trip Date — August 2013

Route Map

Itinerary Notes & Tips

Day 1

Bangkok to Kolkata

  • Bangkok to Kolkata Flight via AirAsia
  • 12:30mn (India timezone: UTC+05:30) – Arrival at Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose (Kolkata) International Airport

India Visa on Arrival

  • Apply for Visa on Arrival – INR3,600 (Indian Rupees) fee for 28-day tourist visa
    • 1 passport-sized photo needed
    • Immigration officer would not accept the rupees that I brought nor US$ as payment. He had to escort me to a bank currency exchange at the arrivals hall.
      • The exchange rate wasn’t too awful but they deducted hefty service charges and tax.
    • VoA process was easy and straightforward.

Kolkata Airport to City Center

  • Wait at the airport visitor’s lounge until sunrise
  • Walk to Airport Gate No. 1 Bus Stop
  • Ride shared taxi to Dum Dum Metro (subway) Station – R10
  • Ride Kolkata metro from Dum Dum to Esplanade – less than R25

Kolkata Hostel

  • Walk to Sudder street
  • Lots of “friendly” shop owners inviting me for chai.
  • A tout, who introduced himself as “Jaki Kan,” approached and talked to me. He told me all the (Lonely Planet recommended) guesthouses I jotted down were closed. He took me to a bunch of places that were all pretty shabby and not cheap for what they were worth. I shouldn’t have followed him but I did because the area seemed difficult to navigate as a first-timer. I should have just ignored him.
  • I checked-in a rather rundown guesthouse in a doubtful looking alleyway because I was already tired and needed some personal space.
    • Single fan room with shared TB – R500 per night
  • Jaki Kan also cheated me into buying overpriced train tickets. He convinced me to let him buy for me because he said that the trains were  fully booked and he knew how to get an open ticket. At first, he asked for R1,600 (for a one-way sleeper class train to Gaya) but when I saw the actual price of R257, which was printed on the ticket, I refused to pay him. He became very pushy, which frightened me. So, I paid him R500 to leave me alone.

Walking Tour around The Maidan

  • 2pm – Kanak Building
  • Indira Gandhi statue
  • Birla Planetarium
  • Saint Paul’s Cathedral
  • 5pm – Victoria Memorial Hall – R4 admission fee (garden only)
    • Did not go inside the museum because it was too late in the afternoon
  • Eat at McDonald’s – R284 (two meals)

Day 2

  • 11am – checkout at hostel

Sudder Street to Howrah Railway Station

To get to Howrah Railway Station, I walked from Sudder Street to a ferry crossing station at Babu Ghat. There were also lots of buses with Howrah on their signboards. All of them should pass by the Howrah Railway Station.

Kolkata City Center (BBD Bagh Area)

  • Jawaharlal Nehru Road
  • Metropolitan Building
  • Victoria House
  • Tipu Sultan’s Mosque
  • Esplanade Mansion
  • Calcutta High Court
  • Babu Ghat

Lave bag at Howrah Railway Station

  • 12nn – Ride ferry from Babu Ghat to Howrah Railway Station – R4
    • View of Hooghly River and Howrah Bridge
  • Arrival at Kolkata-Howrah Railway Station
  • Leave backpack at the cloakroom of Howrah Railway Station – R18 (paid upon claim)
    • The bag should be able to be closed with a lock.

Barabazar Market area

  • Ride bus that went over the Howrah Bridge, to the other side of the river – R5
  • 1pm – Walking tour of Barabazar Market
    • Rabinda Sarani St. – busy market activity with a couple of beautiful old buildings.
    • Nakhoda Mosque
    • Marble Palace
      • No admission fee but you should tip the mandatory guides
      • Photography was not permitted inside
      • The Beautiful collection inside the house, otherwise, it is not a must visit.
    • Cathedral of the Most Holy Rosary
    • Eat samosa on the side street – R5 per piece
      • Samosas in India are almost always delicious, especially when freshly made.

BBD Bagh Area

  • 3pm – St. Andrew’s Church
  • Writer’s building
  • General Post Office (GPO) building
  • Royal Insurance building
  • Standard Life Assurance building
  • Eat at Anamika Eating House
    • Full plate rice, half veggies, and (2 pcs.) chicken curry – R60
    • First local meal India. The staff was friendly and somewhat chatty. Local food in India was extremely cheap.

Kolkata-Howrah Railway Station

  • Ride ferry from Fairlie Ghat to Howrah – R5
    • A lot of Indian businessmen types onboard. They seemed like a happy bunch.
  • 5pm – Go inside passenger waiting room
    • Almost all railway stations in India had complimentary waiting rooms for passengers. They were designated according to the cabin class of the train ticket purchased.
    • The (sleeper class) waiting rooms at Kolkata had a balcony/terrace, which offered a great view of Howrah Bridge that was  best photographed during sunset hours.
  • Free water refilling station
  • Eat at Food Plaza
    • Thali (Typical Indian set meal) – R99
  • 10pm – Departure from Kolkata