I was travelling to Jamshedpur (more popularly known as Tatanagar), unfortunately this particular city does not have an airport that receives commercial flights. Therefore, there were 2 alternatives. One, to board a train that would almost take 38 hours. Second, was to board a flight that would go to Kolkata via Delhi and then board a train from Kolkata to Jamshedpur which would take almost half the time. Of course I opted for the latter.
On the day I was travelling, I was awake and functioning from 5 o’ clock in the morning and reached Kolkata at around noon. This is where the problem began, I had FIVE hours to kill before my train was scheduled from Howrah station. This article is going to tell you how to kill five hours at Kolkata, taking traffic into account.
As in my experience, coming in from the airport I highly recommend hiring a cab. At quite a reasonable rate you can hire a cab for 40km and 4 hours at a mere cost of Rs.1,110. You can take this cab anywhere you want in the given time. If you were to exceed it, the package would simply upgrade to 60km and 6 hours for Rs.1,650.
Since its noon and almost time for lunch the first thing you should do is have lunch. Have a hearty lunch, for an hour or maybe more if you can manage to. There are many restaurants where good food is served at reasonable prices. Ask your cab driver to take you to a good place or just check Google or Zomato. Like I said before, you should try to take as much time as you can while having lunch.
After you have been kicked out for taking too much time to eat, the next thing to do is, of course, get your gifts in place when you reach your destination so that the person whom you are disturbing (as was in my case) doesn’t feel that annoyed with your presence. There are various things that you can purchase, I recommend acquiring a particular delicacy called ‘sondesh’ from one of the sweet shops in Old Kolkata. The particular shop from where I purchased ‘sondesh’ from was ‘Bhim CH. Nag’ and take the original ‘sondesh’ not the new flavoured ones. They are pretty good and are perfect for yourself as well as a gift for the person whom you are annoying. Since this is pretty much in the centre of the city, it takes quite some time to reach and the traffic slows you down even more.
The only thing left to do now is sightseeing, Kolkata is a city of historical importance. It was the capital of the British imperials in India. Therefore there are many buildings and monuments that you can visit to kill time and of course cross off from your list of sites to visit before you die.
Of course, the Victoria Memorial is one of the prime locations of the city. The building is made completely of white marble and was built by the British, as a symbolic representation, to establish the fact in the minds of the people that the Mughal rule was over and that the time of the British had come. With very exquisite architecture and designs. Though you won’t have time to see the entire monument, you should at least see the building itself and experience the awe and magnificence you get from looking at it.
You can also visit the birthplace of one of India’s most finest and extraordinary personalities, Swami Vivekananda. His house has been converted into a kind of museum and a statue of his has been placed outside it. People tend to get distracted from the various monuments and buildings present in the city, but it is important for us to pay our respects and homage to eminent personalities like Vivekanand who have contributed much to our society and culture of our country. Again, you should only visit the place from outside and maybe read what’s written about him on the entrance.
Howrah Bridge is an engineering marvel for the time it was constructed in, the year was 1943. The bridge has no supports under it and is completely hoisted on a technological method called ‘Cantilever Concept.’ From my understanding of the concept and closer observation of the bridge, I concluded that the particular design is similar to 4 legged animals, whose weight is supported on the front and hind legs only. Same goes for the bridge, there are some kind of weights that are placed on the either banks of the river Hugli that support the middle of the bridge and keep it suspended. It’s an amazing thing to look at and a must visit if you are ever in Kolkata.
After doing all of this you should have somewhere around 1-1.5 hours remaining on hand, considering Kolkata traffic, I recommend keeping a margin of 1 hour travel time to the railway station, unless on a weekends, when roads are very lightly populated with traffic. There are of course other buildings, remnants of the British suzerainty that are still in use and have been declared as heritage sites by the government. This is Victorian Architecture at its finest in a foreign land.
Of course, 5 hours does no justice to the city of Kolkata and at least a minimum of 3 days is required to completely explore the city. Hopefully this article will help many, who will follow my footsteps and have the time pass by in a jiffy. (P.S. I’m not a good photographer, I apologize for the not-so-good quality of the images)