Kolkata the capital city of West Bengal, lovingly called the City of Joy, goes far back in time in the history of India. The city has witnessed its fair share of the British grandeur and has retained the old world charm of the bygone British Era. The old buildings and monuments, which stand high & proud in the city till date, are perpetual reminders of older times and have some beautiful stories to tell about Kolkata.
Here is a list of some Historical Monuments worth checking out if you happen to be in the city:
1. Howrah Bridge
The Howrah Bridge built over the River Hooghly in the 17th Century connects the district of Howrah with the mainland of Kolkata. Since its inception, the bridge has gone through several stages of evolution. The bridge provides amazing view of the river beneath it and a bustling colorful Kolkata city spread out in front. The complex structure is entirely made of steel bars riveted together. The best way to catch a stunning view of the bridge is to take a boat cruise on the River Ganges in the evening when the bridge is lit up with colorful lighting.
2. Victoria Memorial
The magnificent Victoria Memorial stands in the midst of 64 acres of beautifully manicured garden in the southern part of the city. The stunning white marble structure was built in the memory of Queen Victoria, the British Empress of India from 1876 to 1901. The most striking feature of the building is its dome and the figure of the Angel on top of it. The building houses a Museum displaying exhibits from the British Era. Among them are Tipu Sultan’s dagger, old books, rare stamps and manuscripts. The Art Gallery holds a huge number of oil paintings by famous painters. A tour of the Victoria Memorial is sure to take you down a long way through the history of India!
3. St. Paul’s Cathedral
Kolkata is home to a big community of Anglo-Indians. The St. Paul’s Cathedral is an Anglican cathedral belonging to the Anglican Communion and headed by the Diocese of Calcutta. The majestic Gothic-Revival styled building was completed in 1847. The peaceful and soothing interior of the cathedral is accentuated by the beautifully curved benches, the ornate altar and colorful stained-glass windows. The walls of the cathedral are adorned with several breath-taking artworks. The midnight mass held in the cathedral on Christmas and New Year’s Eve are the biggest crowd-pullers in the city and makes for a memorable experience.
4. Dakshineswar Kali Temple
The sprawling campus of the Dakshineswar Temple lies on the eastern bank of the River Ganges in Kolkata. The yellow and red temple with its nine spires was built by Rani Rashmoni in the mid-19th Century and shows off some brilliant architecture. There is a spacious courtyard in the middle of the campus surrounded by the main temple dedicated to the Goddess Kali and twelve smaller similar temples dedicated to the God Shiva. Elaborate prayers are held in the temple during the important festivals of Snana Yatra, Shivratri and Kalpataru Day. The stunning decoration with thousands of lit clay lamps on Kali Puja day is worth an experience here.
5. Writer’s Building
The huge red brick building known as the Writer’s Building was built in the late 18th Century by the British East India Company and used as the office for British writers. Until 2013, this building was the nerve centre of the Government of West Bengal and housed the Chief Minister’s office. The interior of the building has numerous corridors, old fashioned pillars and a large number of office rooms from where the various departments of the Government functions. What catches the eye is the white ‘Minerva’ statue atop the building’s entrance. The spacious terrace also displays a group of statues of the Greek gods and goddesses representing Justice, Commerce, Science and Agriculture.
6. Fort William
From Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons
The 18th Century Fort William was built on the banks of the River Ganges by Robert Clive and is currently a military base and headquarters of the Eastern Command. The Fort built of bricks and mortar, houses and protects tanks and ammunitions and is heavily guarded at all times by Army personnel. A 9 meter deep moat surrounds the fort. Though one can enter and stroll around the grounds of the fort, entry inside the fort is restricted. However, one can take special permission from the commanding officer to have a look at the Arsenal, which is an interesting place to visit.
With its wide range of historical monuments and lots of fascinating stories to tell, Kolkata is a city that will not fail to hold your interest. A tour around the city is definitely a learning experience and provides you with ample opportunities to do some wonderful photography as well.