Kolkata is a city with spirit; the city celebrates life in every tiny coffee shop fight, bartering for the best Ilish, delectable nibbles of sondesh, or the exultant sindur khela of Durga Puja. It’s no surprise that it’s known as the ‘city of joy.’ Still haven’t figured out what makes this city so special? Here’s your answer.
College Street: Even in the age of Kindles and digital media, books have their allure. In Kolkata, books are still deeply embedded in the city’s cultural and social fabric. College Street in Kolkata has its own ‘boi para’ (book colony), which is the country’s and the world’s largest bookselling bazaar. From Mahatma Gandhi Road to Bow bazaar, a vast stretch of street vendors, conventional bookstores, and publishers, as well as narrow passageways of smaller booksellers, make up the book colony. Several notable educational institutions, including the University of Calcutta, Presidency College, and Calcutta Medical College, the country’s first medical college, are located in the neighborhood. College Street’s attractiveness is apparent, with its improvised bookstalls built of bamboo, wood, and tarpaulin. The bookstalls feature books on almost any subject imaginable, from fiction to non-fiction, in a variety of languages, and even textbooks. This is where you’ll discover novels for everyone, from a racy Agatha Christie mystery to a literary classic.
Calcutta Polo Club: Calcutta Polo Club is the world’s oldest polo club, with a colorful 156-year history. The origins of polo may be traced back to two British troops, Robert Stewart and Joe Shearer, who witnessed the Manipuri people play a game called “Sagol Kangjei” on horseback. Astonished by its uniqueness, the two soldiers brought the sport to the attention of their Calcutta peers, and the Calcutta Polo Club was founded in 1862 to modernize the new games and introduce a new format.
Durga Puja: It is not an exaggeration to state that Bengalis all over the world spend a substantial amount of time preparing and determining what they would do during the Durga Pujas. Most of them dress in various ensembles — there’s a morning outfit, an evening outfit, and emergency backup outfits, to name a few. There are other significant considerations to make, such as what to eat on which day. You may eat everything and everything, from steaming khichudi and papad bhaja as bhog in pandals to street kiosks serving delightful meals like egg rolls, kobiraji, and mughlai parota.
Calcutta’s attractiveness, which is the pride and delight of every city citizen, readily grows on visitors as well. You may take a Bengali out of Kolkata, but you can never take Kolkata out of a Bengali’s heart, as the saying goes.