Esplanade is the heart of Kolkata. It consists of the region just north of the Maidan and includes Dalhousie Square with all its colonial British buildings. The district takes a visitor back to the Raj-era with nostalgic overtones. Many of the city's important buildings are located here. It is the central business district of the city.
Calcutta was once nicknamed the City of Palaces. This comes from the numerous palatial mansions built all over the city. During the British colonial era from 1700–1912, when Calcutta was the capital of British India, Calcutta witnessed a spate of frenzied construction activity of buildings largely influenced by the conscious intermingling of Gothic, Baroque, Roman, Oriental and Islamic schools of design. Unlike many north Indian cities, whose construction stresses minimalism, the layout of much of the architectural variety in Calcutta owes its origins to European styles and tastes imported by the British and, to a much lesser extent, the Portuguese and French. The buildings were designed, and inspired by the tastes of the English gentleman around and the aspiring Bengali Babu (literally a nouveau riche Bengali who aspired to cultivation of English etiquette, manners and custom as such practices were favorable to monetary gains from the British). Today many of these structures are in various stages of decay. Some of the major buildings of this period are well maintained and several buildings have been declared as heritage structures. Conservation efforts are often affected by problems of litigation, tenant troubles, ownership disputes, old tenancy laws and a lack of funds.
Esplanade, in the centre of the city, has buses passing through from all areas of the city. The long -distance and inter-state bus stand at Babughat is still functioning (the High Court has ordered its shifting).
- Shyamoli Paribahan, 10 Marquis St, ☎ . 6AM and 7AM departures, 12 hour journey to Dhaka. Buses to Bangladesh, some with a break journey at the Benapole-Petrapole border (it is called kata service). From the border buses are available for Dhaka, as well as various other destinations in Bangladesh. Shyamoli Paribahan handles the border transfer from one bus to another so well, that it seems a better option to many than the direct service. Direct buses between Kolkata and Dhaka are available from Salt Lake International Bus Terminus. Rs 650 for earlier and later departures respectively.
- Park Street metro station.
- Esplanade metro station.
- Chandni Chowk metro station.
- Central metro station.
- BBD Bagh (Full name: Benoy-Badal-Dinesh Bagh. Earlier name: Dalhosie Square). Lal Dighi, the big tank in the centre of the square, was there before the arrival of the British. The place was then called Dihi Kolkata. The British decided to settle there, because it was less crowded than other areas in the neighbourhood. They built the old Fort William here (at the place where the General Post Office now stannds.). After their victory in the Battle of Plassey in 1757, they built the new fort in Gobindapur, Dalhousie Square remained at the heart of what was then the 'White Town' of Kolkata. No Indian, rich or poor, dared to live in the area. They came for work during day time and went back to 'Black Town' (Sutanuti) before sunset. With Writers Building occupying the north side and numerous commercial offices all around it became the administrative and business centre of Kolkata. Even now it stands out as a 'period piece'. After independence of India, the square was named after three youngsters who dared to challenge British rule and died there in 1930.
- General Post Office (Located at the centre of the western side of BBD Bagh). The GPO is notable for its imposing high domed roof (rising over 220 feet) and tall Ionic-Corinthian pillars. It was built in 1868, at the site of the old Fort Wlliam, and has remained an important landmark of the city ever since.
- Reserve Bank of India (Regional office of India's central bank), 15 Netaji Subhas Rd (Located at the north-west corner of BBD Bagh).
- Writer's Building (Northern side of BBD Bagh). Office of the Chief Minister of West Bengal. The building is set for a three-year major repair from the end of 2013.
- The Raj Bhavan (Earlier name:Government House). The Governor's Residence. Built in 1803, modelled on Lord Curzon’s home, Keddleston Hall, Derbyshire, England, this is now the official residence of the Governor of Bengal. There are many rare works of art and other interesting items. Entry is restricted.
- Kolkata High Court. It is the oldest High Court in India. It was established as the High Court of Judicature at Fort William in 1862. It has jurisdiction over the state of West Bengal and the Union Territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The High Court building is an exact replica of the Cloth Hall, Ypres, in Belgium.
- Howrah Bridge (Formal name:Rabindra Setu).
- Indian Museum, J.L. Nehru Rd, ☎ , fax: +91 33 249 5696. Closed on Mondays.. Established in 1814, this was the first such museum in Asia. Among its famous collection is the urn that held the ashes of the Buddha (though this is generally not on display), an Ashoka pillar (the three-lion symbol from which became the official emblem of the Republic of India) and numerous rare antiques. Varied collection of exhibits that include unique fossils, Buddhist Gandhara art, and Egyptian mummy. Admission: Rs 10 (for Indians) Rs 150 (for non-Indians)..
- Park Street cemetery. The final resting place for early British traders and settlers.
- Sahid Minar (Earlier name:Ochterlony Monument. Now common people call it 'Monument'). 48 meters high. Located at the south-eastern end of the Maidan.
- Nakhoda Mosque. The largest mosque in Kolkata
- Tipu Sultan Mosque, 185 Dharmatala Street (now Lenin Sarani). Built in 1832 by Prince Ghulam Mohammed, the youngest son of Tipu Sultan. People from all sections of society and religions are allowed to visit and take pictures of this historical premise.
- Chowringhee (Esplanade). It is the central market place for the people of Kolkata. There shops ranging from computer peripherals to paint brushes and accessories, from cloth merchants to phoren goods. There are movie theaters and eateries.
- New Market (Archaic: Sir Stuart Hogg Market). Open 10:30AM to 7:30PM from Monday to Friday and Saturdays till 2:30PM. Sunday holiday.. It is a good place to sample Indian sweet delicacies and generally soak up the atmosphere of Kolkata. There are also a few handicraft stalls inside. The market is in a large red brick building on Lindsay Street (the road parallel with Sudder Street to the north). It has got over 2,000 stalls and is a bargain hunter's delight. The shops are arranged merchandise-wise. It is supposed to be the ultimate marketing experience in Kolkata.
- Shree Ram Arcade, 15A, Jawaharlal Nehru Rd (Near Light House cinema. Close to New Market.). Open from from 10AM-8PM from Tuesday to Saturday and from 1PM - 8PM on Mondays. Sunday holiday.. Full of garment shops.
- Treausre Island, Madge Ln (Close to New Market). Open from from 10AM-8PM from Tuesday to Saturday and from 1PM - 8PM on Mondays. Sunday holiday..
- Dr. B.C.Roy Market (Maidan Market). It has garment, sports goods and other shops
- Park Street. Famous for its eateries - Kolkata's ultimate food destination, but also showcases fashionable clothes, books from all over the world. and so on. Park Street has retained the British spirit - it is so well decorated during Christmas, as if it is still part of the British Empire. The overwhelmingly non-Christian crowd gather there to enjoy Christmas. One has to queue up at any restaurant.
- Oxford Book Store, 15 Park St, ☎ . A large and well organized bookstore. Great selection of books on India and by Indian writers. Check out the discount books and cafe (Cha Bar - see Drink section) on the second floor.
- Handicrafts (Between Sudder Street and Surendranath Banerjee Road). It has several stores selling handicrafts. The largest is at the corner of Surendra Nath Banerjee Road. Those who are particular about handicrafts can also try 'Dakhinapan Shopping Complex' (see South Kolkata),
- Free School Street (Mirza Ghalib Street). It is famous for its second hand bookshops and second hand record stalls. One can rummage through the LPs for sale on the street and one will find some real gems from the jazz age.
- Eagle, 12/2 Lindsay St (in front on New Market), ☎ . A good place to pick up Indian art movies.
- Blue Sky Cafe (off Sudder St). The food is cheap, the place is clean and service is truly fantastic. Great if you are on an extended stay as they offer both Indian and some Western food. You will not find nicer waiters anywhere. Try the fresh squeezed juices.
- Nizam's, Junction of Hogg Street and Corporation Pl. A Calcutta institution for over a 100 yr. An unpretentious place that is famous for 'Muslim' food and lays claim to be the place where Kathi Rolls were invented, it is still considered to make the best ones.
- Chung-Wah, 13A, Chittaranjan Ave (Near Chandni Chawk metro station), ☎ . One of the oldest and best places to sample Chinese food. Drinks served.
- Fresh & Juicy, 2/1 Sudder St. Tasty and cheap Indian, Italian, Chinese meals and Western style breakfasts.
- Khalsa, Madge Lane (on left side when entering Madge Ln. from Sudder St) offers excellent and cheap Punjabi food.
- Zurich, Sudder St. Popular with Westerners, the food is cheap, though nothing special.
- Curd Corner, Sudder St, (next to Zurich). This small hole in the wall eatery is quite an institution in the area, and a generation of travellers have gorged themselves on the fresh and thick yoghurt. Check out the filter coffee and 'mock' cappuccino. Service staff don't speak English, which makes it hard when their menu is itself in English.
- Raj's Spanish Cafe, 7 Sudder St (hard to find alleyway entrance close to intersection Mirza Ghalib St), ☎ . 8AM-10PM. Awful service (without explanation you'll be expected to write out your own order) however serves breakfast and more importantly a little coffee machine that pumps out the cappuccino steadily. Also dishes up an array of Mexican, Pizza and other Western food for the homesick. mains Rs 100.
- Mission Cafe, 20 Ganesh Chandra Ave. Vegetarian fast food spot. Dosa, chaats and curry served at high tables. The cafe is known for its chola-bhatura, a chickpea dish served in a phuchka shell. Turnover fast here, not even stools to sit on, but it is nonetheless tasty.
- Kathleen's. Free School St, (Mirza Ghalib Street). Pastry shop and an ecelectic mix of cuisines dominated by Indian and Chinese styles.
- Flury's, 18 Park St, ☎ . Tu-Su 7AM-8PM, M 10AM-6PM. A popular and stylish cafe serving a good variety of baked goods and various coffees, sandwiches and entrees. A great place for breakfast or lunch. Baked goods Rs 30-50, drinks Rs 30, meals Rs 100-300.
- Kwality, 17 Park St (next to Oxford Book Shop). Been around for years with sharply dressed waiters serving tasty tandoori and north Indian food to well-off locals. Try their Chhola-bhatura. Mains from Rs 100.
- Peter Cat, 18 Park St, ☎ . Very popular for its chello kababs. However, their service has not received the best reviews. Serves Indian, tandoori and Continental fare.
- Mocambo, 25B Mirza Ghalib St, ☎ . Same owners as Peter Cat, but here the cuisine is a bit more rounded. Continental, Indian and even some Chinese dishes served in upscale surrounds. mains Rs 100-300.
- Oasis, 33 Park St, ☎ . Cosy restaurant with variety of foods. Has a small bar service counter with three stolls.
- Macdonald's, 55 Park St, ☎ .
- KFC, 20-K, Park St, ☎ .
- Moulin Rouge (Not to be confused with Paris night club), 31 Park St, ☎ .
- Waldorf, 13 D, Russel St (Near crossing with Park Street), ☎ . Serves delicious Chinese food
- Gangaur, 2 Russel St, ☎ . Serves a variety of vegetarian food but is famous for its Rajasthani or Marwari food.
- Aheli, Peerless Inn Hotel, 12 Jawaharlal Nehru Rd, ☎ +91 33 44003900, 22280301. Authentic Bengali food, served in brass utensils in a Bengali marriage environment. Drinks not served.
- Ban Thai, Oberoi Grand, 15 Jawaharlal Nehru Rd, ☎ . Week days - Open only for Dinner from 7PM to 11:30PM Weekends - Open for Lunch from 12:30PM to 3PM and for Dinner from 7PM to 11:30PM. For an authentic taste of Thailand, visit Baan Thai. Widely recognised as the premier Thai restaurant in the country. Drinks served. Around Rs. 4,000 for two people. Drinks extra..
- Fruit Juice, These are available in the New Market area. Try some of the spicy fruit juices.
- Cha Bar, 2nd floor, Oxford Book Store, Park Street (see Buy section).. A modern and chic cafe with a great selection of teas, including herbal, smoothies and coffee. A large window offers views of street life below, while the books provide a literary dimension. Cha Bar is an excellent place for a budding writer or a day dreamer.
- Handicrafts and Coffee Shop, 44 Free School Rd 1F. A bright and cheerful coffee shop that uses proceeds from sales to fund projects offering vocational training to street kids. Great atmosphere, good cakes, but unfortunately only serving instant coffee. Handicrafts are made by former street kids.
- T3 Tea Table Shop, 57A Park St, (corner of Free School St), A venerable institution dating back to the days of the Raj - heavy, sticky cakes are a specialty. When the Flurry's was renovated and the menu modernized a few years ago, this place was set up by the same owners to preserve some of the old favourites and ambiance from the 'old' Flury's.
- Rallis, J.L. Nehru Rd. Excellent sherbets.
- Broadway Hotel, 27A, Ganesh Chandra Ave. Recommended for a glimpse of a bygone era. Also one of the few places which serves beer with a plate of sliced cucumber.
- Streetlife, (entrance to Park Hotel). The universal colors of chic decor, black and red, are used extensively to give this cafe a warm but modern feel. Good selection of coffees and healthy snacks opposed to what the name might make you think. This cafe is about as far from representing Kolkata street life as you could possibly get. Makes a good alternative to the ubiquitous Baristas and Coffee Days.
- Super Pub, Sudder St (oposite of Fire Station). Air-Conditioned and clean place. Serves beer and hard liquor and seasonal fruit juice. Snacks and eateries are reasonably priced.
- Fairlawn Beer Garden, 13/A Sudder St (inside Hotel Fairlawn), ☎ . Only serves beer. Eccentric atmosphere with greenery everywhere. Famous among travellers and volunteers. Great place for meeting people and early evening drinking. Snacks and dinner available.
- Olypub, 23 Park St, ☎ . 11AM to 11PM. A fine afforable bar
- Hotel Maria, 5/1 Sudder St, ☎ . Basic rooms with attached bathroom (Rs 250) and also dormitory beds with shared bathroom (Rs 80)
- Paragon Hotel, 2 Stuart Ln (off Sudder St), ☎ . Recently under new management which refuses to pay the union wages that were previously paid. Rather loud dormitory next to rather loud reception area for Rs 120. You get plenty of action nearby
- Hotel Modern Lodge, 1 Stuart Ln (off Sudder Street), ☎ . Not very modern, but cheap and fairly clean. Rs 150 for single with shared cold-water bathroom. Rs 100-250.
- Broadway Hotel, 27A Ganesh Chandra Ave, Chandni Chowk, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-out: 24 hours from when you check in. Despite lacking AC the very large rooms with high ceilings make for a great space and the price is definitely right. Don't miss the authentic ambiance of the restaurant and bar of this 1937 built hotel. Supposedly due to the hotel's popularity rooms are often difficult to get unless you book ahead, however try hanging around and see if one magically opens up while you're there (especially if you're first offered a more expensive room). Upper triple rooms have balconies. Rs 775 double with private bathroom.
- Hotel Jaapon (Japoon Guest House), 30F Mirza Galib St (also called Free School St (at the end of Sudder St), ☎ +91 33 2252 0657, +91 33 2252 0658. Reasonably clean AC and non-AC rooms available with a very small private bathroom and cable TV. Beds are surprisingly comfortable given the thin and well worn mattresses. Location is central and just metres from Sudder St. Singles Rs 650, AC doubles Rs 1100.
- Astoria Hotel, Sudder St, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Clean, large, albeit drab, rooms with private bathrooms. Rs 1,000-1,250 +10% tax.
- Fairlawn Hotel, 13/A Sudder St, ☎ +91 33 2252 1510, +91 33 2252 8767, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. a relic of the British Raj and oozing with charm and character. Single:US$50 (full board) US$45 (with breakfast) double/twin:US$60 (full board) US$55 (with breakfast).
- Hotel Royal Palace (also called Free School St), ☎ +91 33 2252 5280, +91 33 2252 4178. Clean and large A/C & non-A/C rooms with private bath, color TV, STD/ISD. Rs 350-750.
- YMCA, 25 Jawaharlal Neru Rd (near corner with Kyd St), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. An extremely drab and dark hotel that appears not to have received a lick of paint since its founding in the mid 19th century. However, in someways, that is the hotel's distinctive charm, and so it may appeal to strict traditionalists. There is a simple restaurant on the second floor. The food is nothing special, but the balcony offers a great view of the buzzing city below. Non A/C single Rs 600, with A/C Rs 850.
- Hotel Lindsay, 8A/8B Lindsay St (Near Globe Cinema Hall, nearby Transit: Esplanade Metro Station), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The hotel is well lit and clean. The hotel was recently renovated and its facilities, including a room minibar, hot water, tea and coffee, make it a good value four star property. New market is right on the door step, and provides plenty of local interaction right on the doorstep. Rs 4,600 std dbl.
- Sunflower Guest House, 7 Royd St (200 m away intersection Park St and Free school St), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Clean and great location. Those who tote lots of luggage be warned there are stairs to climb to top floor reception. Rs 1,350 std dbl.
- Esplanade Chambers, 2 Chandney Chowk St (40 m off GC Ave), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Very clean and reasonably quiet rooms, albeit not massive. Rs 1,500 dbl, Rs 1,800 deluxe.
- DK international Hotel, 11/1A Marquis St, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. All rooms A/C and breakfast included. Close to the Bangladesh bus stations. There are better deals out there but not quite as new as this place. Dbl from Rs 1,800+tax.
- Housez 43, Mirza Galib St (It is 20 km from Netaji Subhas Airport, 7 km from Howrah Railway Station, and 0.5 km from the main shopping area of New Market.), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. All rooms equipped with air-conditioning, TV, and private bath. Rates start at 4,950.00 INR.
- Oberoi Grand Hotel, 15 Jawaharlal Nehru Rd, (Chowringhee Road), ☎ . One of the great hotels of the Raj, the Grand has been the last word in luxury for all of its 125+ years. A surprisingly quiet oasis in one of the busiest streets in the world. US$375-1,375.
- The Park Hotel, 17 Park St, ☎ , fax: +91 33 2249 4000. The unassuming exterior hides an elegant and homely interior with stylish Indian features.
- Bawa Watson Spa'o'tel, 5A Sudder St, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. An upscale new venue that's breaking the trend from the Sudder St backpacker tide. Rs 3,000 std dbl 29 rooms.
- Peerless Inn, 12 Jawaharlal Nehru Rd, ☎ .
- Hotline Services, 7 Sudder St, (near the Astoria Hotel, at the back of the parking lot between Roop Shringar clothing shop and Metro Beauty Parlour. Identified with a large illuminated sign in red) has a room jam packed with high speed computers, and charges Rs 15/hr. They also sell CDs of various styles of Indian music for around Rs 150/each, and have a selection of hand-woven material and cotton clothing from all over India. Hotline also provides a coffee and snack service.
There are other smaller internet cafes on Sudder Street such as Net Freaks, but they are often very busy.