Formerly known as Calcutta, Kolkata is the capital of India´s West Bengal state and functioned as India’s capital for about 200 years until 1911. This bustling city is now known for its grand colonial architecture, art galleries, and cultural festivals. Not to mention its rich historical and cultural heritage that make Kolkata a fascinating destination.
Compared to the cost of traveling Europe, the United States, and even places in Asia like Japan and Russia, Kolkata and India are generally affordable for travelers. However, getting to Kolkata can be expensive, so things can add up quickly when visiting on a limited budget. But fear not! AllTheRooms has some great tips for exploring Kolkata without breaking the bank.
What to Do:
Kolkata is a true melting point of culture, history, and modern life that are visible through the various sites to visit, places to see, and new things to experience. Luckily many of these, including some of the most famous ones, are either free of charge, very cheap, or ask for a voluntary donation. There’s really no excuse to miss out on a true Kolkata adventure.
A must-see in Kolkata is Motherhouse. Mother Teresa did most of her work in Kolkata, so now her former home and charity are open to the public for free. Here you can pay your respects and tour the museum to learn about Mother Teresa´s work and life.
Kalighat Kali Temple
Once in Kolkata, head to the historically gorgeous Kalighat Kali Temple where entrance is free. The temple is dedicated to the Hindu goddess of Kali and is one of the most visited and sacred sites in town, attracting thousands of pilgrims and other Hindu devotees each day. Beware of the long lines to enter, but while waiting there are souvenir shops and other vendors nearby to keep you entertained.
South Park Street Cemetery
Requiring only a donation upon entry, South Park Street Cemetery sees visitors flock here to get spooked by the eerily quiet ambiance inside the decaying ancient cemetery. Built in 1767 and holding about 1,600 tombs, the cemetery is sure to be a memorable day out.
Sir Stuart Hogg Market is one of the most popular places to visit in Kolkata. Usually referred to as New Market, this market is divided into sections where visitors can buy just about anything they possibly want and all at a very affordable price. However, the real adventure takes place in the chaotic action surrounding the market. You´ll find delicious restaurants, Kolkata street food stalls, pushcart transporters, and swarms of people in all directions outside. The market is also ideally located near the popular backpacker area of Sudder street.
Mullik Ghat Flower Market
Mullik Ghat Flower Market is right under Howrah Bridge and is a lively scene, open all day to the public. Painting a gorgeous picture of bright yellow and orange flowers, the market is the perfect spot to snap some fantastic photos. Walk across the Howrah Bridge, one of the world’s busiest pedestrian bridges, and gaze at some breathtaking views of Kolkata, the Hooghly River, and the constant stream of people crossing the bridge with heavy loads. All this and more at the great price of ‘free’.
To contrast with the chaotic scenes of Kalighat Kali Temple and Mullik Ghat Flower Market, visit Belur Math. This temple is a much-needed break from fast-paced city life. The peaceful, relaxing atmosphere is the perfect chance to take in gorgeous architecture and gardens inspired by designs from Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. Entrance is free and you´ll certainly leave rejuvenated.
Kolkata is filled with magical adventures that don’t have to cost a fortune. Search AllTheRooms for the best deals on a place to stay, and see more tips about the many ways to save money when traveling.