Kolkata

"The city of Joy"

Kolkata, India's second biggest city, is a perpetually ongoing festival of human existence, concurrently luxurious and squalid, refined and frantic, pointedly futuristic, while beautifully in decay. A vibrant 350-year-old metropolis located on India's Eastern Coast, the capital of West Bengal thrives on contradictions and imposing spectacles; nothing is commonplace in this city. Famously known as the City of Joy, Kolkata is, in every sense, the artistic, cultural and intellectual capital of the country. Kolkata's streets are vivid, hectic, chaotic, and yet, brimming with life and creativity. Driven by the indomitable spirit of the self-made middle class, the city has created a beautiful juxtaposition of the old colonial-era charm with the nascent upcoming hipster culture that thrives amongst the city's millennial residents.

Starting from admiring the flourishing art scene in the city to going on rewarding gastronomical explorations to wandering amidst the countless bazaars to sitting by the banks of the Hooghly and enjoying a peaceful sunset, Kolkata is soaked in layers and layers of heritage and culture, and peeling off each layer to look beneath the hood is a very rewarding, once-in-a-lifetime experience. As the famous quote goes, "If you want a city with a soul, come to Calcutta".

Formerly the capital of the British empire before the government was shifted to Delhi, Kolkata has a distinct tinge of its royal past lingering in every nook and cranny of the city. If you want to soak in some of the city's regal past, take a walk along the streets of North Kolkata, which houses some of the oldest mansions in the city, swathed with vines and a persistent sense of aristocratic pride. Kolkata is home to Rabindranath Tagore's ancestral house, which has now been converted into a museum and houses a staggering collection of family portraits and paintings. There are plenty of ghats all over the city where you can sit and enjoy a sunset while sipping on tea, one of the most noted of these being the Prinsep Ghat, which offers stunning views of the Vidyasagar Setu in the backdrop. Close by is Millennium Park, which is a beautified waterfront park from where you can avail boat rides and cruises.

Kolkata has a very lively nightlife, and the entire stretch along Park Street houses innumerable bars and pubs where you can party the night away. Kolkata's street food is famous all across the country, and the city is lined with eateries and food stalls at every corner, where you can savour local Bengali food, or try out local snacks such as Jhalmuri, or Ghugni Chaat.

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