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4 Bengali traveling myths that are completely wrong

Traveling is something we Bengalis love to do. We might act a bit old school when comes it, but you would rarely find a Bengali who doesn’t fancy traveling. Back in the day, our parents would probably start planning for a tour six months before a vacation starts. Now, in the age of information technology we fancy eating street food in Bangkok one fine morning and we might find ourselves doing it the next weekend. And yet, few old timer traveling myths still remain embedded in our habit.

Here are 4 such traveling myths that are completely wrong.

Myth 1: You need to buy plane tickets months in advance to get the best deals

Wrong. This might have been true ages ago when air traveling was not as frequent as it is now. Back then, airlines would hike up the ticket prices at the last minute because options were so few.

These days, it’s the opposite. With so many budget to high-end options, airlines scramble to fill in half empty seats as the date of departure comes close. Moreover, if you try to book a ticket months ago, you are most likely to see the static prices rather than dynamic ones. The ideal time to book your air ticket would be 4-5 weeks in advance.

Myth 2: Packages know best

While some packages might offer convenience once in a while, in most cases packages will rip you off. And the offers are almost never the best you can get. Comes with the added hassle of doing everything by the package terms and conditions.

If you try and explore by yourself, chances are you’ll cover the trip with half of what the package programs ask of you and get more out of your traveling.

Myth 3: Duty Free is a good bargain

This is a very common myth among those of us who frequent in airports. Duty Free items means that they are not taxed. However, it doesn’t mean anything about retail prices. There’s a higher chance that you’ll find the same goods at a much lower retail price in local market.

Myth 4: It’s a good idea to change your currency at the airport

4 Bengali traveling myths busted 2

Almost never. At airports, the transaction fee is built into the exchange rate percentage. And that means you’ll get a bad rate at airports almost all the time. It’s better to change your currency from your bank before traveling. Or do it in a local money changer once you reach your travel destination.

Everything you need to know about the elections and what happens after

It’s election day. If you had cast your vote, congratulations! You have successfully exercised your democratic rights. Just in case you were wondering how the entire electoral process works in Bangladesh, we got you covered. Here’s a quick roundup:

What is the type of Government we have?

In Bangladesh we have a parliamentary democratic republic.

How many seats are there in the parliament?

In the parliament or the house of the nation, there are 350 seats. Among these, 50 seats are reserved for women. The rest of the 300 seats are for elected candidates from 300 constituencies across the country, including the to-be prime minister.

When will a party win?

A single party or a coalition of parties can secure win if at least 150 out of the 300 seats are won by them. The winning party or coalition will then go on to form the government.

Everything you need to know about the Elections in Bangladesh and what happens after
Your vote matters, thank you for voting! Image: Brainscape

What is a Hung Parliament?

If a party/coalition cannot get 150 of its candidates elected, it will be declared a hung parliament.

In that case, the party/coalition will have to form alliance with some of the other elected representatives to secure 150 seats in total.

What happens if no party/coalition secure 150 seats?

If no party/coalition secures 150 seats at all, then there will be another election according to EC rules. And in the interregnum, the country will be run by an incumbent government.

How is government formed?

The president of the country is largely a ceremonial figure who is elected by direct votes from the 300 members of the parliament.

The president appoints the leader of the winning party/coalition as the prime minister.


The prime minister then forms the cabinet from the elected members of the parliament and forms the government.

What is cabinet?

The cabinet of ministers is the collective decision making body of the government under the Prime Minister’s office. 90% of the cabinet ministers should be elected MPs of the house of the nation. The rest 10% can be technocrat ministers.

Who are technocrat ministers?

Technocrat ministers are ministers who are not directly elected members of the parliament or even not directly affiliated with the ruling party/coalition. Technocrat ministers are often elected based on their expertise on the relevant fields.


Aquaman: A strong comeback for the DCEU

When we sat down to watch Aquaman, right after its release in STAR Cineplex, little did we know that Jason Momoa in an orange suit would deliver such a glorious chapter in the DCEU.

After Justice League and the countless behind the scenes drama that constantly mar the DCEU, fans can be excused for being a little sceptical about its next instalments. But let us assure you, Aquaman is not your average DC flick. It is perhaps the first decent DC movie in years. For fans of Jason Momoa, the actor, you’re in for a treat.

The Premise

Aquaman: A strong comeback for the DCEU 5
Nicole Kidman as Queen Atalanta

Aquaman starts out being straightforward. No drama, no twist, jumping straight into the story. The childhood of Arthur Curry and the conflict between Atlantis and the surface world. The immortal story of a journey of a king to claim his rightful place. Aquaman delivers all of it in a skillful method. Aquaman is surprisingly true to its comic origins. Yet, so very original that it brings a fresh flavor to the entire comic book movie genre.

Technical aspects

Aquaman: A strong comeback for the DCEU 6
Amber Herd plays Queen Mera

Director James Wan can be lauded for his mastery with the camera in the dynamic action shots. 2 and a half hours of explosive action, chase scenes and underwater world exploration did not deliver a single moment of boredom.

The massive world of Atlantis that was built for the movie is absolutely praiseworthy. A fresh perspective to world building was much needed for fans of pop culture.

The 3D experience of Aquaman’s underwater world in STAR Cineplex was one of a kind.

The Verdict

Aquaman: A strong comeback for the DCEU 7

A DC film that in our humble opinion, delivered. Finally.

Aquaman was more than just a comic book movie. It was a Sci-Fi adventure, a treasure hunting mystery, a journey of a king, the mythical tale of becoming of a hero. James Wan’s visual masterpiece passes every test with flying colours.

With a 4 out 5 rating from us, Aquaman breathes life into the DC movie universe. And crafts the path for a better class of DC movies in the future.

Aquaman is playing in Star Cineplex as we speak. Click the button below to secure your seat in the next show.

Paying attention to flight safety instructions: Why it matters

We often hear people saying that they prefer cars over aeroplanes because aeroplanes might crash. That fear, however, is misplaced and as irrational as it gets. Chances of a plane crash are much lower than a car accident or a lightning strike or a shark attack for all that matters. In a survey done by the American National Safety Council in 2015, they found that an average American has a 1 in 114 chances of dying in a car crash. While in the case of aeroplanes, the chance is 1 in 9,821. Sadly, no such data exists for the Bangladeshi counterparts but it is safe to say that the numbers would probably look similar. The fear around planes is understandable, however. For when an accident happens, it is usually more fatal than a regular car crash. Accidents do not happen very often. But with proper air travel safety ensured, the chances of a fatality are much lower even if the plane crashes due to an unfortunate event.

Ironically, whenever we get on a plane, the most ignored part of the journey is usually the safety instructions by the cabin crew. Here’s why you should pay more attention to them next time on:

Switch off your mobile phones/Turn on airplane mode

Why you should pay attention to flight safety instructions

During every air travel, the cabin crews instruct us to turn off our mobile phones, especially during take off and landing. These warnings are often overlooked as we keep talking on our phones or using it even when the plane is taxiing and taking off. This simple rebel act of not caring enough can cause serious fatalities as the mobile phone signals often interfere with the radio signal communications between the pilots and the ATC. Slight gaps in information exchange can lead to serious disaster. Keep this in mind the next time you’re not switching off your mobile phone following the instructions. Your life may as well be in your own hands.

Following the emergency procedure instructions

Why you should pay attention to flight safety instructions

So, you’re sitting in your seat, all strapped up, waiting for the plane to take off and the cabin crews are blabbering and making weird hand gestures and all, boring right? Life savers actually. Do pay attention to what they are saying, how to use the oxygen mask, how to put on the life jacket, where the emergency doors are and how to open them etc. In case of an emergency, you don’t want to find yourself in a position where you don’t know what to do just because you weren’t paying attention. Those boring blabbers and weird hand gestures can save your life.

Seat belts are your best friends

Why you should pay attention to flight safety instructions

It’s best to wear seat belts all the time even when the lights aren’t on. If the lights are on, do not open your seat-belts in mere disregard. Even if the plane isn’t in a crash, a serious turbulence can throw you off and injure you and other passengers. They are there to keep you safe. Use them. It doesn’t hurt.

Keep calm and wait for the plane to stop

Why you should pay attention to flight safety instructions

This is perhaps the most complained issue about our air travels. Please, wait for the plane to come to a full stop before you unbuckle and start getting your overhead luggage out. This is serious as most of us tend to ignore this one. If the plane is still moving on the runway by the time you’re walking about with your luggage, waiting to get out, there is all the chance in the world that if the plane skids or anything happens, you will be one of the firsts to suffer from an injury whereas if you were seated with your seat-belts on, you might be saved! Why take our chances for granted, right?

Some Basics

Even though most of these will be covered by the cabin crew’s instructions and best if you follow their words, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared with a bit of a heads up. So here are a few basic air travel safety on a plane journey:

1. Always keep wearing the seat-belt when the lights are on. Best to wear them all the time.

2. Keep your dining boards up and towed during take-off and landing.

3. In case of a drop in the air pressure, oxygen masks will most likely come out. Wear yours first before helping others. In case you’re travelling with a child, wear yours first and then help the child wear it. This is important because you may last a maximum of 15-20 seconds without oxygen and if you collapse, you cannot take care of the others.

4. Always follow the crews’ instruction to locate where the emergency doors and life jackets are in case of an emergency

5. Do not carry sharp objects, inflammable objects and canisters in carry on.

Despite all the fear and concerns, Air travel is still the safest medium to travel. If you aren’t convinced, look up the stats on Google. Numbers do not lie. Stay safe and Happy Travelling!

These 4 apps will make traveling a lot easier

Travelling isn’t like it used to be before. You set out with a paper map in your hand and face things as they come your way, that’s not only old school but time consuming, to say the least. And there are so much to see and so many things to do in a new place that it baffles our minds.
Thankfully, the age of information technology is upon us and as always, it boils down to mobile apps.

Here are 4 apps that will help you plan efficiently and get the best out of your next travel destination:

1.Google Trips

4 apps to make your travelling easier

It’s safe to say that you can trust Google with your eyes closed. Google has rarely gone wrong with their ventures and Google trips isn’t one of the odd ones. Google Trips is a simple, straightforward app that stores your ticket and hotel reservations from your linked Gmail account, your day plans and your saved places all in one place. It also recommends you nearby points of interest and places to eat.

Google Trips also offer customized day plans with routes mapped out for you. Simply brilliant.

2. Culture Trip

4 apps to make your travelling easier

Culture Trip offers detailed reviews and blogs from professional travelers and travel guides. Want to learn how to travel like a local in a new place? Culture trip should be your go to. Culture Trip’s blogs are simply the best thing for you if you want to truly experience a new culture.

All you need to know about a place will be available to you down to the last detail. From guides to the best locations to where you’d find the best street food stall, Culture Trip has it all.

3. Lonely Planet

4 apps to make your travelling easier

What started as a small venture by a traveler couple, quickly turned into a global travel guide that’s known all over the world. Lonely Planet’s travel guides are detailed, has reviews from locals and other travelers and an interactive map that shows you exactly where all the points of interests are.

Lonely planet offers the best-verified insights to a location and the city guides are really all you need while travelling.

4. TripAdvisor

4 apps to make your travelling easier

From the best hotel deals to the cheapest flights from different airlines, TripAdvisor covers virtually everything travel related. TripAdvisor certified hotels and restaurants are considered the best experiences by travelers all over the world. You’ll find reviews and recommendations from locals and seasoned travelers. And the TripAdvisor forums are insanely helpful in planning out your travel itinerary. Ask away anything you want to know and you’ll definitely get a reply.

These days TripAdvisor has become more like a traveler social media that lets you create a profile, a travel timeline, share your pictures and stories and a lot more.

Bohemian Rhapsody: Rami Malek steals the show in electric Freddie Mercury biopic

Capturing the life of Freddie Mercury on celluloid is a daunting task. And yet, Bohemian Rhapsody takes on this task with enough ease. And an electric Rami Malek channels the timeless Freddie with all his vigour and flamboyance in what could be one of his greatest acting performances of all time.

Bohemian Rhapsody portrays the life of Freddie Mercury and the journey of his band Queen, from its inception to its rise to Rock ‘n Roll stardom. In a limited time frame of Freddie Mercury working as a baggage handler at Heathrow to Queen’s Live Aid concert in 1985, the biopic throws in the struggles of Freddie’s personal life, his isolation, his confused sexuality and his contraction of AIDS. Often failing to focus on a single aspect to lead the movie on.

A complex movie

Bohemian Rhapsody: Rami Malek steals the show in Freddie's biopic

The primary conflict in making a biopic about Freddie is that it demands a lot on one of the greatest bands of all time, Queen. When the journey of Queen is, quite frankly, devoid of dramatic bumps. From small college gigs to rocking the stage on world tours, Queen’s stardom was shot to the sky within only a few years of time. Queen’s theatrics used to lie more in their extravagant performances on stage rather than behind the scenes drama.

But the Queen frontman Freddie’s life was the opposite. From his insecure teenage years as a Persian-Indian immigrant in the UK to his long struggle with his sexual identity, Freddie’s life was marred by drama. And one must find oneself in deep waters trying to cram all of his life into a single standard runtime Hollywood biopic.

Brilliant Rami Malek!

Bohemian Rhapsody: Rami Malek steals the show in Freddie's biopic

Bohemian Rhapsody plays it safe with its script. It doesn’t take risks, unlike the man upon whose life the movie is based on. However, if not for Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody would have been a rather bland attempt at capturing the versatile life of an iconic star.

Rami Malek absolutely steals the show. Bohemian Rhapsody was all about him. And he nails the role of the iconic rockstar down to the last detail. From his walk, his extravagant style, his singing, Rami does it all with a fine touch of expertise. It is as if Freddie himself were alive on the screen. Rami’s expert portrayal of Freddie is what makes Bohemian Rhapsody so very enjoyable.

Goosebumps!

Bohemian Rhapsody: Rami Malek steals the show in Freddie's biopic

What else makes Bohemian Rhapsody a beautiful movie-going experience is its music. It features almost all of the greatest Queen classics. We witness the birth of the iconic track, Bohemian Rhapsody itself. Tap our feet with the classic beats of We Will Rock You. And left in goosebumps as Rami and the team performs the entire Live Aid Concert of 1985 with an electric energy on the screen. Bohemian Rhapsody is, if nothing else, the finest example of a Rock ‘n Roll movie that never falls short on content.

The verdict

Bohemian Rhapsody isn’t the greatest biopic of all time. But the energy that Rami channels into his portrayal of Freddie Mercury is sure to touch you as an audience and a Queen fan.

A solid 4/5, Bohemian Rhapsody is a stomping celebration of Queen, their music and their flamboyant frontman, Freddie Mercury.

Even if you’re not a fan, Bohemian Rhapsody will leave you awestruck with its terrific cast and rocking music. Book your tickets from STAR Cineplex if you don’t want to miss an electric experience. We can promise you that you won’t regret watching this movie in the theatres.

It’s November, the perfect month to see the Himalayas from Panchagarh!

Sounds too good to be true? Welcome aboard this week’s travelogue that will take you on a journey all the way to the far north of Bangladesh, Panchagarh. The isolated corner of Bangladesh and the only place in the country where you can view the Himalayas from.

If you are, like me, broke to the bones and cannot afford a trip to Darjeeling or Nepal to bask in the magnificence of the Himalayas, fret not. Panchagarh is the hidden gem of Bangladesh’s travel scene and an exciting destination that has a lot more to offer than just the Himalayas.

Getting to Panchagarh

Buses to Panchagarh leave from Shyamoli every night. Hanif and Nabil Paribahan are two of the most trustworthy services in this route. Both AC and non AC buses are available and the tickets will cost you 1200 TK and 600 TK respectively. This will be one of the longest bus journeys you’ll ever take in Bangladesh, so prepare accordingly. Of course, the bus will stop on breaks two times on the way so there’s nothing to worry about.

The bus will drop you off in Panchagarh town in about 12 hours. By the time you reach there, it will be well past 7. Have breakfast in any of the local hotels. Take a minibus or an autorickshaw to Tetulia, the last border town in Bangladesh to the north. It’s a 1.5 hours ride from Panchagarh. If the weather favours you, the Himalayan mountain range will be visible on your way to Tetulia.

Where to stay

It’s November and it’s the perfect season to see the Himalayas from Panchagarh!
Tetulia Dak Bungalow

In Tetulia there are two mid-range tourist hotels and two government rest houses. To stay in the government rest houses, you must take prior permission from the officials. You can get the clearest view of the Himalayas from the government rest houses. Right behind the rest houses, there’s a river and on the other side of the river is the Indian border. At night, you can see the border lights lit up and BSF guards walking around.

Kangchenjunga!

It’s November and it’s the perfect season to see the Himalayas from Panchagarh!
Himalayas, or Kangchenjunga as the locals call it. From Tetulia

6AM in the morning is the perfect time to view the Himalayas as the sun rays fall directly on the peaks and that gives a clear and spectacular view of the mountains. Beneath the mountain range, you can see smaller hills and tiny lights flickering on and off. That’s Darjeeling. At night, you can often see tiny spectrums of car headlights running down on the spiraling roads of Darjeeling.

Although October-November is the perfect time to see the Himalayas, often it is not visible due to bad weather over at India. In case you’re unlucky this time, don’t worry. The daughter of Himalayas also has magnificent tea gardens, ancient historical ruins such as Maharaja Dighi and one of the smoothest and most beautiful roads in the entire country. Panchagarh won’t disappoint you at all.

November, perfect season to see the Himalayas from Panchagarh
Panchagarh has some of the most beautiful roads in Bangladesh to enjoy a drive.

The Himalayas are a magnificent sight. It cannot be boiled down to a few words of appreciation in an article. And we’re not even going to try. Pack your bags and head over to Panchagarh to see it for yourself. Let us know how it made you feel.

Finding Bangladesh: In search of Bangladesh’s lost legends

The second documentary of the Finding Bangladesh series, Bangladesher Harano Golpo was premiered last Friday, 26th October in KIB. Directed by Adnan M.S. Fakir, the second documentary comes out after ten long years since the first one. And it certainly lived up to the hype.

As the documentary runs on the screen, it slowly introduces to us, the lost tales and myths of Bangladesh. Makara, the mythological creature, Gazi and his army of tigers and Bonbibi, the guardian of Sundarbans, all come to life in the captivating narrative of the documentary. The journey takes us on a thrilling ride through our own mythology and history. Often in the tone of complaint and occasional comic relief.

In terms of its content, Bangladesher Harano Golpo deserves nothing less than a solid five-star rating.

In 76 minutes of its runtime, we learn more about Bangladesh and its rich tales than any history books have ever taught us. The Finding Bangladesh team has spared no expense in researching and crafting the stories beautifully. Animations and skilled cinematography bought the legends to life as the team take us through 17 historical locations across Southern Bangladesh.

But one might criticise it for its incoherent style of narrative. The sudden English narratives in the middle of continuous Bangla seemed to have served no apparent purpose. And Safdar Doctor’s comic relieves were enjoyable but it continued to break the immersion.

Nevertheless, Bangladesher Harano Golpo has been an enthralling journey through our history and legends. It serves its overall purpose with a fine touch of expertise, that is, to aware and educate us of our own heritage. The effort of Adnan M.S. Fakir and his team in digging out our roots and the tremendous amount of research that went into making it is commendable, to say the least. We eagerly look forward to what the misfits on the loo on wheels bring us next.

Shohoz plans to go big with $15M investment. Can it keep up?

Shohoz rides, the latest addition in the ride-sharing industry of the country, has pulled in $15M worth of investments as a part of its round B investments. Singapore based Golden Gate Ventures led the new investments round. Linear VC of China, 500 Startups and Singapore based angel investor Koh Boon Hwee were also associated with this investment.

With this investment, Shohoz rides becomes one of the heavily invested in businesses in the country and looks steadily set in their goal of expanding their services in the future. Shohoz’s closest rival, Pathao, has also recently raised $10M investment from Indonesian ride sharing giant, Go-Jek.

Steady growth

Shohoz raises $15M
Shohoz started with online bus ticketing

Shohoz has remained a trusted name in online sales for bus tickets since 2014. After its initial success, it soon expanded to selling ferry tickets and very recently, tickets for events and movies. After the ride-sharing industry in the country saw a boom in the latter half of last year, Shohoz started out its ride-sharing services, Shohoz rides, this year in January.

With its ride-sharing services rapidly gaining traction, it does not, however, mean that the platform will move away from its bus ticketing services. “Bus tickets will remain an important part of our business, [there’s] lots of synergy with ride-sharing,” she explained in an interview with Techcrunch. “Dhaka has a super dense population with bad infrastructure. If anything, there’s a better case for ride-sharing than Indonesia. There’s no subway and transport is a horrid nightmare.”

Shohoz started its ride-sharing services by adding motorbikes to its platform. It recently added cars to it and hopes their overall service will ease the traffic situation in the capital city.

Keeping its feet on the ground

Shohoz raises $15M

Despite having shown promising prospects, Shohoz has apparently been taking things slow. It hasn’t yet shown any initiative to grab iOS users in the country but recently underwent a massive rebranding to appeal to new customers. It is unclear if they’re planning to launch an iOS app any soon.

Shohoz plans to tap into the groceries and food delivery market soon. It aims to model itself after the “Super App” style most southeast Asian tech giants usually go for and something Pathao has recently ventured into.

It doesn’t plan to go global anytime soon but is surely set to expand its services outside the capital city of Dhaka, as explained by the CEO in a recent interview.

Is three a crowd?

Shohoz raises $15M

Currently, three ride-sharing platforms, including Shohoz, are doing steady business in Bangladesh.

Pathao has skyrocketed with its constant influx of investment, aggressive market attitude and expansion beyond the country. Uber, although lagging a bit behind in the local market in comparison with Pathao, is on stable grounds. With its UberEats service soon launching in Bangladesh, its competition with Pathao is not dying down any soon either.

Can Shohoz keep up with aggressive Pathao and international giant Uber with its laid back but organised market strategies? So far, they’ve been doing good for themselves. Only time will tell what the future holds for this ride-sharing rising star.

In Kolkata, the city of joy

One of the oldest and the busiest cities in the world, Kolkata nicknamed the city of joy, is also the proud holder of a very befitting title, the cultural capital of India. The city of Kolkata is full of people, colours, scents and noises of all kinds and a rich cultural heritage to boast about.

Kolkata is a coveted destination for all the history buffs, cultural explorers and spiritual travelers. This is the city that saw the rise of modern India and is the birthplace of the Bengali renaissance. For someone from Bangladesh, there is no better destination to travel to if you want to embark on a journey of discovering your roots and heritage.

Anyone who is looking for the experience of a lifetime on a tight budget, the city of Rabindranath and Satyajit Roy welcomes you.

Kolkatay Shwagotom
Traveling to Kolkata from Bangladesh is as easy as it gets. There are trains, which take roughly 8 hours, daily buses from Dhaka with a journey time of 12 hours (+ horrible Dhaka traffic) and of course aeroplanes that will land you in Dumdum airport in just about 2 hours or so. Indigo airlines would be the cheapest option if you’re planning to catch a flight.

Trains and buses will cost you the same, which would be a lot cheaper than an aeroplane. Trains operate between Dhaka to Kolkata four days a week from Kamalapur, tickets are sold as early as one month prior to your travelling dates. Check with the railway website for more information on timings and other details.

A number of buses operate daily on the Dhaka-Kolkata-Dhaka route. The best option would be to get a ticket for the BRTC-Shyamoli service. The staff is efficient and helpful and will get you a “VIP privilege” during land immigration, which can be a lot confusing than regular airport immigration. A round trip should cost you around 4000 or less, including taxes and other charges.

Kolkata New Market

A place to stay
If you’re traveling by bus, they’ll drop you off right in the heart of the city, Marquis street. Just adjacent to Marquis street, is Sudder street, the central backpacker’s district. You’ll find a number of cheap to mid-range hotels on Marquis and Sudder street. Just walk into any if you haven’t pre-booked one.

If you’re looking for a cheap stay with quality rooms, check out Ashreen guest house on Cowai Lane. Right in between Sudder street and Hogg’s market, the Ashreen guest house has 3 star rated rooms, in terms of quality, for a jaw-dropping cheap rate. Just don’t expect a proper 3-star hotel facility. You get what you pay for.

Many of these hotels are in heritage buildings that are hundreds of years old and are meant to keep it that way. Whether you’re looking for a heritage stay or a quality upgrade for a little value for money, finding a stay in Kolkata is an absolute no-brainer.

Explore, explore and explore
Kolkata is a crowded and crammed city. It has its own fair share of dirt and filth. But every street in Kolkata has some sort of history and culture associated with it.

The streets of Kolkata are a bold mixture of the old and the new. When Job Charnock of the East India Company first arrived in the banks of Hooghly in 1686, he realized the potential of the region for English settlement. For the next 150 years, English colonists would clear the jungle of Hooghly and establish roads, erect buildings in British architectural style and turn Kolkata into the first capital of the British Raj in India. Kolkata still bears the sign of its glorious past. Old British colonial buildings still adorn the streets of Esplanade and Park Street. The Park street cemetery houses the graves of 200 years old British families who were the first to arrive in India.

College street houses the largest street book market in Asia alongside the Calcutta University, the first institution for westernised higher education in India and Asia. Calcutta University and the subsequent educational institutions in Kolkata would, later on, produce some of the brightest minds in Bengal and create an educated and politically conscious middle class who were the pioneer in the movement for Indian independence. The college street is also home to the infamous Indian Coffee House. The intellectuals of Bengal would come here often to discuss literature, politics and everything in between over a cup of coffee.

This is the same coffee house Manna Dey wrote his famous song about. And it is believed that Roma Roys and D’Souzas really did exist.

There’s Victoria Memorial, a magnificent structure built by the British in memory of Queen Victoria. Built with a mixture of Victorian and Mughal architecture in style, Victoria Memorial was quite literally erected because the British happened to be jealous of the Taj Mahal in Agra wanted something as magnificent as Taj Mahal for the Empress too. Whether it served its purpose or not is of course, for you to decide.

Victoria memorial Kolkata
Victoria Memorial

St. Paul’s Cathedral is near to the memorial. It’s an 18th-century church built in English-Gothic architectural style, for the increasing number of English populaces in the city. The church is open to all and visitors are expected to maintain civic and silence when visiting the church. The church also houses a number of Graves inside its walls. Some of these graves belong to prominent British bishops, reformists and Lords who died in Kolkata.

St. Paul's church Kolkata
St. Paul’s

Birla Planetarium, the second largest planetarium in the world is close by and Birla Mandir, a magnificent temple with intricate marble stone carvings on its walls, is about 20 minutes taxi ride from the planetarium.

The famous Howrah bridge stands proudly on the Ganges river. Go to the Mullickghat flower market very early in the morning to witness one of the largest flower markets in Asia alongside the morning view of the Hooghly bridge.

Jorasanko Thakurbari, the ancestral home of Rabindranath Thakur is a must visit. The house is now turned into a museum and you can get inside the rooms Rabindranath and his family used to stay. The house also served as a center for intellectual practices during the renaissance period and now doubles as the Rabindra Bharati University. Satyajit Ray’s ancestral home is also nearby.

Tagore house Kolkata
Tagore’s house

Visit the Indian Museum, the largest in India to witness the vast and rich collection of our ancient civilisation and heritage. Top it off with a quick visit to Sir Stuart Hogg Market, commonly known as the New Market. The market built mainly for the British back in the 1800s now houses hundreds of shops that sell everything from antiques to traditional clothes. Shopping in the Hogg’s Market is an unforgettable experience.

Visit the Kalighat temple. The largest temple devoted to Goddess Kali or Durga. It is one of the 51 Shakti Pithas in Hindu mythology. According to some historians, the etymology of Kolkata is directly related to Kalighat. Mother Teressa’s house, Nirmal Hridoy, is right adjacent to the temple.

KolkataAbove everything, the most important aspect of traveling that I’m an advocate of is that, take random aimless walks down the streets and alleys of a city. Breathe in the smell of the city as every city has a smell of its own. Experience lives of the locals like the locals do. If nothing else, it enriches the soul.

The magnificent culinary journey
It is needless to say that food in Kolkata are practically crafted to our taste buds. The street foods are to die for. In Madge lane, right opposite to the New Market, you’ll find stalls selling hot Pav Bhaji, Chicken Paneer Kebabs, Chow mein etc. Don’t forget to try the Kulfi Falooda.

In New Market, you’ll find Nizam’s which have been around for 100 years selling delicious Kosha Manghso, Chicken Roll, Chicken Kabirazi etc. Head over to Baba Rolls in Park street to try the mouth-watering hot kathi rolls. The momo chain “Wow Momos!” sells some of the best pan-fried momos in the continent.

In college street, you’ll find Hindustan Dhaba. They sell the best Punjabi thali in the city. A hearty lunch at the dhaba is not only easy on the wallet but also one of the most delicious meals you’ll ever get to try. The juicy butter chicken and tandoor roti alone is enough to make one come back to Kolkata just to try it one more time.

Food in Kolkata
Thali in Hindustan Dhaba

You’ll, of course, go to the coffee house when on College street. One heads up is that the coffee at the coffee house is nothing special to be absolutely honest. But it’s the conversation that people come here for, not the food.

You’ll find some of the best South Indian idly and dosa in Friend’s Eating House behind the new market and their masala chai is a must try. There’s a small stall in Hartford Lane, near Ashreen guest house, that sells snacks like sandwich, omelettes, toast, chai and many more. They open early for breakfast and close late at night. Head over there for a cheese omelette if you’re not feeling too adventurous. The boy who runs the stall is a talkative young chap who can recommend you a thing or two.

And the best for the last, Roshogollas. Kolkata would not be Kolkata if there were no roshogollas. Try Bheem Nag and KC Das to taste these delicious sweets and maybe get a box or two home.

Getting around in Kolkata
At times it feels like Kolkata never moved on from the colonial times at all. 1958 models of Hindustan Ambassador yellow taxis and Royal Enfield motorcycles ply the streets along with trams, a forgotten mode of transport in most parts of the world.

Kolkata has the oldest running tram system in the world right now and getting a tram ride is a part of the Kolkata experience. Human run rickshaws are still found in the streets.

There are of course buses and conventional Uber rides. Kolkata also has a metro line which happens to be the first and the oldest underground metro in India. Travelling in the metro is cheap and fast for covering long distances. However, get one of the trademark yellow taxis to cover short distances and places where the metro will not go. Make sure you bargain well. They’re not very costly anyway.

Biday Kolkata
As night falls over this 300-year-old city, you should take a long look at the city from somewhere high enough that overlooks the old colonial buildings and crowded streets. The scent of incense would swirl into the sound of Azaan and the church bells would remind you that time is almost up.

You’ll get your return bus tickets from the same counter where you were dropped off. Or you could always take the train or the aeroplane, the choice is up to you.Kolkata taxi

As your bus/train will keep taking you further away from the city, you wouldn’t know what it is that’d keep calling you back. Is it the coffee house? Esplanade? The yellow taxis? Or is it the hundred years old night over Hogg’s market that stands witness to numerous events of history and culture? You will only know if you get back again. Kolkata, as always, welcomes you.