I spent a lot of time walking around the streets of Kolkata. I have always love walking in different cities and towns. It gives me a chance to interact directly with locals and to see places that are not usually found in guidebooks.
I also love being surprised by my destinations. And Kolkata and probably the whole India is always full of surprises. There are always a variety of things going on and there’s so much to see and experience on their streets.
Walking around Kolkata during daytime and in the afternoon felt safe and non-threatening and I felt really safe. But safety of course is relative and I advise that you be careful and take necessary precautions in doing the same thing when you visit this city.
Anyway, here are some of the things that I’ve seen in Kolkata:
Gorgeous Building Structures
Kolkata is full of beautiful colonial buildings. A lot of them are in very bad shape and seemed to be abandoned but some of them are well preserved but I find all as equally beautiful. I’m a big fan of old structures because it gives me a chance to wonder of what was life life during the time when it was still new. If the city government will restore most of these buildings, I’m sure that Kolkata will get to attract more tourists.
I was surprised to see eagles (or hawks?) flying around Hogg’s Market and was even surprised to see them nesting in some old buildings. I’ve never seen so many of them flying freely in my whole life. It was actually one of the best part of this trip. It’s like spending holidays in Borneo where I also saw a variety of animals like monitor lizards and a variety of sea birds. If you go beyond Kota Kinabalu City in Borneo you’ll get to see more animals such as the orangutan, proboscis monkeys and Asian Elephants. Likewise, if you’re interested to see more wildlife in West Bengal, there are various travel agencies in Kolkata that arrange tours to Sundarban or to the wildlife sanctuaries in the north where you could see rhinos, elephants and if you’re lucky, the Royal Bengal Tiger.
Just within the city of Kolkata, cows and goats are already part of what I’m expecting to see in this city. I’ve been to Delhi and Varanasi a couple of years ago and had seen them as well. But I wasn’t expecting to see pigs bathing in a puddle in Kolkata though (but it was fun to see them too). If you also look closely on trees, you’ll see a lot of chipmunks.
Public transportation in Kolkata is definitely cheap and affordable although it may be a challenge to communicate with some drivers due to language barrier. Kolkata has trains, trams, buses, mini-buses, cycle rickshaw, motor rickshaw (like tuktuks) and rickshaws pulled by man. I was really surprised to see the last one, I thought they don’t exist anymore. I’ve read that this can only be found in Kolkata and nowhere else in India.
It was definitely a suprise to see makeshift stalls of laundrymat on the streets of Kolkata. Clothes are handwashed and ironed too.
Sudder Street is the main backpacker’s area in Kolkata (I didn’t stay here though). If you’re gonna stay here, it’s quite near to Hogg’s market and new market. There are a lot of guesthouses, travel agencies and restaurants in this area.
There’s also a lot of beggars in Kolkata which is a sad thing to see but it’s also nice to find out that some members of local communities are helping them by giving them alms and food. I do hope and wish though that they figure out how to get out of their situation.
Some say that Kolkata is a bit cleaner now compare to a few years ago. I hope that they continue in making the city cleaner and restore it’s gorgeous old colonial buildings. If they could do this, they would definitely see a huge influx of visitors in the coming years.
Anyway, these are just some of the things I saw while walking the streets of Kolkata. Check out my post about my Week in Kolkata for some info about the tourists spots.