An intricately woven, multi-hued tapestry makes up the city of Kolkata, India’s second largest city and the former capital of British India in its days as Calcutta. Today, Kolkata remains the capital of West Bengal and a hub of art and culture in India. Ancient and modern worlds collide to create a city that is both contrasting and captivating. Holidays in Kolkata introduce you to a heady world of grand architecture, eminent museums and contemporary art galleries.
Nicknamed the City of Joy, Kolkata knows how to enjoy a celebration, whether it’s one of the annual festivities or a lively debate on literature, politics, religion or cinema. India’s cultural capital, Kolkata has prominent local traditions in film, art, theatre and literature. Explore the city’s best museums, libraries and galleries during your Kolkata holiday.
Kolkata epitomises India’s striking world of contrasts
Kolkata’s spread of colonial-era monuments stand as a nod to its past - join a Kolkata tour to discover the city’s most iconic architecture. The Victoria Memorial, built in memory of Queen Victoria, fuses British and Indian design across its white-marble facades and colonnades. Ornate and imposing, the St. Paul’s Cathedral was the first Episcopal Church of the eastern world.
Kolkata’s Old City is an entirely different world. Starkly contrasting the colonial grandeur, a haphazard sprawl of buildings, urban dwellings and street markets reveal Kolkata’s other side. Here, you’ll find real life as it is lived by the locals. Settle down at a roadside stall with a steaming cup of spicy chai and watch the chaotic street activities unfold all around you.
Like much of India, Kolkata is a place that has to be visited to be truly understood. Whether you want to relax aboard a boutique cruise along the Ganges or embark on a culinary adventure through India’s most vibrant cities, we’ll craft you a unique exploration of this mesmerising and mysterious world.
Great sample itineraries
Pair your Kolkata travel with explorations to Darjeeling in the Himalayas, or hop over to Sri Lanka for tranquillity amongst tea plantations and wild elephants. The world is your oyster! Get in touch today.
“As part of your Kolkata holiday, you can add an experience where you’ll learn to cook like the Bengalis do! A walk through the market will familiarise you with the ingredients that go into making some authentic Bengali recipes, followed by a cooking demonstration by a local. Take notes and try out some of the recipes when you’re home.”
“Join a scenic cruise along Hooghly River, admiring the monuments and cityscape from a new perspective, followed by a visit to Mother Teresa’s house.”
Events & Festivals
A number of events take place in Kolkata each year, but Durga Puja is undoubtedly the most significant. Join the throngs of locals during the ten-day celebrations and get caught up in the intoxicating energy and colourful celebrations.
Durga Puja is one of the most famous festivals in West Bengal, and particularly Kolkata. It is a ten-day celebration that takes place in October in honour of the Goddess Durga. Festivities see the crafting of hand-painted idols by locals; religious ceremonies such as the bathing of the banana tree in the Hooghly River; immense, lit, elaborately decorated pandals (displays); huge puja feasts; folk dances and an abundance of traditional Bengali cuisine.
Traditional Bengali cuisine - like that found in Kolkata - is a uniquely rich and flavoursome strand of Indian food. A large part of a Kolkata holiday is enjoyed sampling the delicious local cuisine.
Biryani is found all over India, but Kolkata has a distinct version and one of the best biryani dishes you’ll try. Kolkata biryani is fragrant and slightly spicy: the meat is slow-cooked in butter; rice, meat and vegetables are layered in a pot; spices such as cardamom, mace, saffron and cloves are added to the mix. Eggs and potatoes are often added to the Kolkata version too. The concoction is then cooked further to give the food a really aromatic and rich taste.
A hearty Bengali curry, Kosho Mangso - mutton curry - is prepared with mutton, vegetables and an array of spices.
One of Bengal’s most famous sweet desserts, Mishti Doi is a dessert of fermented sweet yoghurt - creamy and delicious. Try it at one of the famous sweet shops while you’re in Kolkata.
A popular snack found at street stalls in Kolkata, Deviled eggs are boiled eggs with the yolk spiced and buttered. Kolkata’s version sees the eggs deep-fried in a layer of mashed potatoes and bread crumbs.
You might also like these
We think you might also like to take a look at these destinations. If you'd like some advice, our Destination Specialists will be able to find something that is right for you.
There’s no question too small. Start planning your dream trip by talking to our Destination Specialists.
Sign up to our newsletter
Receive the latest travel inspiration and destination news.
How we tailor make your holiday
The Hayes & Jarvis Way
We've been tailor making holidays for 65 years. With over 60 destinations to choose from, talk to us and we'll listen to your travel ideas to create unforgettable holiday experiences.