North Kolkata is the oldest area of Kolkata, a fascinating district dominated by narrow little lanes and hundreds of century-old buildings. Old heritage buildings and temples are there, as well as Sovabazar Rajbari. Because of its rich cultural heritage, the district is commonly referred to as Babu Kolkata.
North Kolkata is bounded by Baranagar at the north, Dum Dum and the Circular Canal at the east, Mahatma Gandhi Road (MG Road) at the south and the Hooghly River at the west. It includes neighbourhoods like Ahiritola, Bagbazar, Hatibagan, Hedua, Jorasanko, Kumortuli, Maniktala, Nimtala, Rajabazar, Sealdah, Sinthee, Shyambazar and Sovabazar. On the opposite bank of the Hooghly River lies Howrah, Kolkata's its twin city, and the main crossing point lies in this district.
Kumortuli (also spelt Kumartuli) is a traditional quarter for the potters (kumors). Renowned for its sculpting prowess, the area not only manufactures clay idols for various festivals (especially for Durga Puja) but also regularly exports them.
Most roads in North Kolkata have a north-south alignment and plenty of road transport available from this district to other parts of Kolkata. However, road transport slows down during office hour rush.
Two metro lines cross this district. The North–South Metro 1 runs over Chittaranjan Avenue, with stops at Shyambazar, Sovabazar Sutanuti, Girish Park, Mahatma Gandhi Road and Central. The East–West Metro 2 stops at Sealdah.
North Kolkata is home to Sealdah railway station, one of the busiest railway stations in India. The district can also be reached by the Circular Railway with stops at Bagbazar, Sovabazar Ahiritola and Barabazar.
While Kolkata's tram network has shrunk in recent years, there's still a limited number of routes operating from 1 Howrah Tram Terminus.
- Jagannath Ghat.
The northern part of Kolkata houses the old buildings belonging to the zamindars (landlords), other rich Bengalis who used to trade with the British. It preserves the cultural heritage of Kolkata. The building structures give an impression of the royal folk who occupied them. In College Street area, a visit to the Coffee House is a must.
- 1 Belgachia Villa (Paikpara Rajbari), 64B, Khudiram Bose Sarani, Belgachia. A large garden house. Prince Dwarkanath Tagore bought it from an Italian around 1823. In 1846, when he died in England it was discovered that he was heavily in debt due to his extravagant spending. To pay off his debts, his son Debendranath sold Belgachia Villa and other properties.
- Bow Barracks (বো ব্যারাক BOH BA-rahck). A small hub of mainly Anglo-Indian population who have lived here for generations. According to a legend, Bow Barracks was a garrison's mess built for the army during World War I. When the soldiers left India, they handed over the apartments to the Anglo-Indians who took them on rent.
- House of Sarada Devi, Bagbazar.
- 2 Residence of Sister Nivedita, Nivedita Ln, Bagbazar.
- 3 Shyambazar Crossing. The famous five-point crossing connects APC Road, Barrackpore Trunk Road, Bidhan Sarani, Chittaranjan Avenue and Jessore Road. A statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is at the centre of the crossing.
- 4 Sovabazar Rajbari (শোভাবাজার রাজবাড়ি SHOH-bhah-bah-jahr RAHJ-bah-rrih), 33 & 36 Raja Nabakrishna Deb St. The Rajbari, now partly in shambles, was probably built around or before 1757 by Raja Naba Krishna Deb. The Durga Puja was started in 1757, after the British victory in the Battle of Plassey.
- 5 Kolkata Police Museum, 113 APC Rd, ☏ +91 33 23607704 (director). Tu-Su 10AM to 5PM. The museum collects, preserves and interprets objects related to the history of the Kolkata Police. Exhibits includes various items seized during the freedom struggle of the country.
- 6 Jorasanko Thakur Bari (জোড়াসাঁকো ঠাকুরবাড়ি JOH-rrah-shãh-koh TTHAH-koor-bah-rrih, House of the Tagores, Rabindra Bharati Museum), 6/4, Dwarkanath Tagore Ln, Jorasanko, ☏ +91 33 22181744, email@example.com. 10:30AM–5PM (closed M). The ancestral home of the Tagore family. The huge sprawling brick mansions were the cultural hub of Kolkata for close to a century and a major force in the women's liberation movement. It hosted the first Brahmo wedding and was an important centre of Indian independence movement. The house was converted into a museum in 1961. The museum has three large galleries—one of the life and works of Rabindranath Tagore, a second gallery about his close relatives such as father Debendranath Tagore, Abanindranath Tagore, Gaganendranath Tagore etc. and a third gallery on the Bengali Renaissance in general. ₹50; students ₹25.
- 7 Marble Palace, 46, Muktaram Babu St, Jorasanko (metro: Mahatma Gandhi Road 1 ). 10AM-4PM. Built in 1835 by Raja Rajendra Mullick, the palace is now a museum. Spend your afternoon among precious objects d’art including works of Rubens and Sir Joshua Reynolds. When tired, take a tram ride along Indira Gandhi Sarani (Red Road) with the green expanse of the Maidan around you. The perfect antidote. A real garden, of maybe an acre with a Palladian Mansion, set square in the centre. Today this place has an incongruous collection of statues and paintings. There is also a private zoo housing a collection of birds from different corners of the world.
- 8 Raja Rammohan Roy Memorial Museum, 85A, Amherst St (Raja Rammohan Roy Sarani), ☏ +91 33 2360 5122, firstname.lastname@example.org. 1AM-4PM (closed M). The memorabilia in the museum consists of photographs, sketches, paintings and excerpts from the writings of Ram Mohan Roy and others reproduced, wherever possible, in facsimile. Also, period furniture and diorama representations were designed to recreate the times. Together they not only give you glimpses of the various facets of one of the greatest personalities of the modern age, but at the same time takes you back into a period in history when India was at crossroads, and Ram Mohan Roy heralded the coming of the modern age. Indian children (up to 11 years) ₹5, Indian adults ₹10, foreigners ₹50.
- 9 Swami Vivekananda's Ancestral House, 3, Gour Mohan Mukherjee St, Simla, email@example.com. The 18th-century building was in a dilapidated condition, worsening day by day. The Ramakrishna Mission acquired it, along with an adjacent plot, in May 1999. Ramakrishna Mission restored Vivekananda's ancestral house without changing any of its original architectural features. It houses Vivekananda's birthplace, meditation hall (first floor) and museum, where some of the articles used by Vivekananda, his father, mother and brothers are preserved.
- 10 Vidyasagar Smriti Mandir (বিদ্যাসাগর স্মৃতি মন্দির BIHD-dah-shah-gohr SHRIH-tih MOHN-dihr), 36 & 36/1 Vidyasagar St (approach from APC Rd or from Amherst St), ☏ +91 33 22413018. The erstwhile residential house of Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, social reformer, language pioneer and a key figure in bringing about the renaissance in Bengal, has been converted into a women's college which runs various professional and language courses. The heritage building was renamed 'Vidyasagar Smriti Mandir'. A part of the building has been converted into a museum.
- 11 Chaitanya Museum, 16/A, Kaliprasad Chakraborty Street. P. O : Baghbazar, Kolkata – 700003, ☏ +91 9051781493, firstname.lastname@example.org. For almost a century, the Gaudiya Mission has been instrumental in spreading the doctrine of Gaudiya Vaishnavism as practiced and preached by Sri Krishna Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The Mission was established in 1918 by Srimad Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada and since then, the main objective of the institution has been to render devotional and spiritual service to humanity. With 64 branches spread across India and other countries, the Mission has been relentlessly spreading the message of love, peace, and universal brotherhood.The “ Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu Museum ” project is a key initiative by the Gaudiya Mission to honor the teachings of love and devotion expounded by Mahaprabhu and also as a tribute to his 525th anniversary. The museum is being constructed on the mission premises itself in Bagbazar, a neighborhood by the river Ganges where Mahaprabhu himself had passed by five centuries ago. The museum is planned as a three-storied structure standing on approximately 1350 square meters of area. The galleries will be accommodated within 1000 square meters while the remaining will be used as public utility areas and library spaces devoted for epistemological pursuit.
- 12 Calcutta Jain Temple (Parshwanath Temple), Gouribari, Maniktala.
- 13 Parshwanath Jain Temple, 26, Khudiram Bose Sarani, Belgachia. Considered one of the most sacred Jain temples of worship in Kolkata. The temple also has a dharamshala equipped with modern facilities.
- 14 Udyan Bati (উদ্যানবাটী OOD-dahn-bah-ṭih, Garden House), 90, Cossipore Rd. A monastery where Sri Ramakrishna lived from 1885 till his death in 1886. Kalpataru Utsav is celebrated every year at 1 January.
- 15 Basri Shah Mosque. The oldest mosque in Kolkata, dating back to 1804.
Howrah Bridge trivia
- 16 Howrah Bridge (হাওড়া ব্রিজ HOW-rrah BRIHJ, Rabindra Setu (রবীন্দ্র সেতু ROH-bihn-droh SHEH-too)). 24 hours daily. Free.
One of the iconic bridges of West Bengal, the 705 m (2,313 ft) long Howrah Bridge is a cantilever bridge with a suspended span over the Hooghly River. The bridge was commissioned in 1943 by Braithwaite, Burn & Jessop Construction Company, replacing the older pontoon bridge.
The area around Howrah station and Howrah Bridge has grown as a world of its own, catering to the needs of a huge floating population. This bridge frames the skyline of the Howrah Riverfront. The ambience is as amicable and profound as the river that flows alongside.
- 1 Deshbandhu Park, 165B, Raja Dinendra St.
- 2 Kumortuli Park.
- 3 Mahajati Sadan (মহাজাতি সদন MAW-hah-jah-tih SHAW-dohn, House of the Nation), 166, Central Ave. Auditorium and cultural centre planned as part of the independence movement by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. The foundation stone was laid in 1939 by Rabindranath Tagore, who named it Mahajati Sadan. It was completed by Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy in the early 1950s.
- 4 Star Theatre (near Hatibagan crossing).
- 1 Bose Institute (বসু বিজ্ঞান মন্দির BOH-shoo BIHG-gan MOHN-dihr), 93/1, APC Rd (next to Rajabazar Science College), ☏ +91 33 2355-9219. A scientific research institute founded by Jagadish Chandra Bose in 1917 in what was his residence. It is now the main campus with branches.
North Kolkata is generally crowded and has some interesting bazaars including the famous Barabazar. College Street is the place one can trace many out-of-print books with a little patience.
- 1 Maniktala. A big market for varieties of fish.
- 2 Mullick Ghat, Strand Rd. At the base of the Howrah Bridge is the city’s bustling wholesale flower market. Flowers are an essential part of life in the city, they are bought not just for temple prayers but also for wedding decorations, events and festivals.
Eat and drink
- 1 Bhojohori Manna, Star Theatre, 79/3/4 Bidhan Sarani, ☏ +91 33 2533 8519. It serves a wide variety of home-cooked Bengali cuisine.
- 2 Allen Kitchen, 40/1, Jatindra Mohan Ave (near Sovabazar Sutanuti metro station). 4-9PM. Famous for its Prawn Cutlet. One of the oldest restaurants in Kolkata, founded in the late 19th century.
- 3 Golbari (New Punjabi Hotel), 211, Acharya Prafulla Chandra Rd (Shyambazar 5 point crossing), ☏ +91 33 2554 6096. 12:30PM-11PM. Famous for Kosha Mangsho (spicy goat meat).
- Niranjan Agar (beside the northwestern exit of Girish Park 1 ). 4-9PM. Famous fry shop. Try their deviled duck eggs, mutton koftas and special fish fry.
- Mitra Cafe. North Indian fast food outlet famous for its brain chop. Fish Kaviraji, brain chop, Chicken Kaviraji, Mutton Kaviraji, mutton cutlets, fries, Prawn Kabiraji. Also go for the various chops, cutlets or Afgani.
- 4 47, Jatindra Mohan Ave, ☏ +91 8420161111, +91 9830342665. 5-10PM.
- 5 3A, Bhupen Bose Ave, ☏ +91 33 2543 8192. 4:30-10PM.
- 6 New Madras Tiffin, 138, Bidhan Sarani, Hatibagan, ☏ +91 9804237342. 10AM-10PM. Good vegetarian South Indian joint. Must-try items are Mysore plain dosa, Dahi vada and Kulfi.
- 7 Only 4 Chinese Gazab (Gazab), 34C, Shyampukur St, Hatibagan, ☏ +91 33 30859011. Noon-10:30PM. Quality Indian Chinese and great pork items. Also, try their Darsaan with vanilla ice cream.
- 8 Rupa, 222A, Acharya Prafulla Chandra Rd (Shyambazar 5 point crossing). Quality Bengali lunch. Famous for shukto bhat (Bengali bitter gourd dish and rice) and kôsha mangso (spicy goat meat).
- 9 Chittaranjan Mistanna Bhandar, 73, Shyampukur St, Shyambazar (near Shyambazar A V School). A century-old sweet shop famous for Bengali sweets like Rosogolla, Rajbhog, Chomchom etc. Must-try items are Rosogolla and Modhuporko.
- 10 Girish Chandra Dey and Nukur Chandra Nandy, 56, Ramdulal Sarkar St, ☏ +91 33 2241 0048. Established in 1844. Famous for Sandesh and traditional sweets
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:|
|Mid-range||₹1000 to ₹3000|
- 2 Bangiya Sahitya Parishat, 243/1, APC Rd, email@example.com. 12:30PM-7:00PM. A unique library with ancient Bengali manuscripts.
- 3 Barabazar Head Post Office.
- St. John's Ambulance, 5, Government Pl, ☏ +91 33 22485277.
- 4 R. G. Kar Medical College and Hospital, 1, Khudiram Bose Sarani, Belgachia, ☏ +91 33 2555-7656.
- 5 Chitpur Police Station, 19, Cossipore Rd, ☏ +91 33 25566141.
- 6 Shyampukur Police Station, 47, Shyambazar St, ☏ +91 33 25557585.
- 7 Cossipore Head Post Office.