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Kolkata has always been a city of great relevance both politically as well as religiously and this has led to the city seeing several popular monuments being constructed for both political and religious purposes. For many Indians, Kolkata is the ideal colonial Indian city to visit and see many important monuments closely linked to history and colonial polities in the city. Below are some important historical monument to visit while in Kolkata and what makes them special.
Victoria Memorial is not doubt the most iconic historical monument in Kolkata and was built by the British to commemorate Queen Victoria. The structure was also a bold reminder of British supremacy in India. The building is constructed on the fronts of Hooghly River and styles from different cultures, resulting in a universal yet unique monument. Today Victoria hall is a museum which houses the Kolkata Gallery as well as several relics which are directly associated to Queen Victoria and British rule in India. It is synonymous to Kolkata and certainly is one of the most visited sites in the city.
The Calcutta high court is another important historical building situated in Kolkata as it was the first high court in India established in 1862 at Fort William. Painted in red and white, it is an exact replica of the Cloth Hall, Ypres, in Belgium. The court continues hearing cases today and has sectioned judge strength of 63. The Calcutta High Court is also among one of the only official government bodies which has retained its original name even after Calcutta’s name was changed to Kolkata officially in 2001.
Address: Esplanade Row W, B B D Bagh, Kolkata, West Bengal Opened: 1872
Great Eastern Hotel
If you are on the vist to Kolkata then never moss to visit Great Eastern Hotel which is a heritage hotel that reminds of the British era royalty. Though Kolkata being the capital of British colonial rule saw setting up of many hotels for the convenience of foreign travellers, the most famous of all was The Great Eastern Hotel (officially Lalit Great Eastern Hotel) which is situated on the junctions of old courthouse and the British India Street. The hotels original name was the Auckland Hotel and established in 1841 by David Wilson who names it after the governor General Lord Auckland. The hotels remained successful after independence and began experiencing serious management problems in the 1970’s. By the 90’s the hotel was seriously dilapidated and the government privatized the hotel in a bid to save it. Pricewaterhousecoopers took over the hotel and have renovated, giving it a new glory that sees thousands of Indians visit the hotel each year.
Address: 1,2,3, Old Court House Street, Dalhousie Square , Near Raj Bhavan, Kolkata, West Bengal 700069 Phone:033 4444 7777
Red colored Writers Building though constructed during colonial era still holds the same charm and power. Today it is secretariat of West Bengal Government. The iconic building was designed by Thomas Lyon in 1777 and was first set to house writers for the British East India company writers. The auditorium and accounts department amount several other departments linked to the British east India Company were housed there and building continues being expanded over the decades. After independence Writers building assumed the level pf Secretariat of West Bengal and was seat of power for several Chief Ministers of West Bengal . Today most government department once housed in the building have moved out leaving the building to now be viewed and visited as among on of the oldest Kolkata monuments and one which must be seen.
Address: Lal Dighi, Kolkata, West Bengal
Being amongst the first cities to be colonized by the British Empire, Kolkata has a diverse heritage and many colonial monuments. Fort Williams is Kolkata’s primary fort which has a long history. Constructed on the banks of river Hooghly it stands as a testament of the frosts strength over its 300 year history.The famous 'Black Hole Tragedy' that finally resulted in the Battle of Plassey took place in the premises of the fort. Today under the Indian Army, this fort is undeniably one of the most exciting and historically rich attractions in Kolkata. If you ever happen to visit Kolkata, then must visit this splendid work of architecture to get glimpses of military prowess of East India Company.
Address: Khidirpur Road, Kolkata, WB
Considered as most sacred temples in India, Dakshinahwar temple devoted to the Maa Bhavatarini, a form of Goddess Kali and witnesses pouring of devotees throughout the year. It was first constructed by Rani Rashmoni who was a staunch believer of Kali in 1855. The temple has continues to attract believes from across Kolkata resulting its expansion over time to become one of the largest temples in Kolkata today. Devotees flock in from across the Bengal region to pay tribute and players at this temple . The temple is constructed on the Hooghly River and offers a huge courtyard where worshipers use during medication. Being on the Hooghly River also means it has wonderful lawns worshipers can enjoy while at the temple.
Address: Dakshineswar, Kolkata, West Bengal 700076 Phone: 033 2564 5222
Kalighat is yet another famous temple devoted to Goddess Kali temples in Kolkata. Being one of the Shakipeethas in India, it is one of the most visited temples in Kolkata. Pious surrounding with enchantment of mantras and ringing bells attracts pious devotees from far and wide. You must visit the temple to get fist hand expernce of its religious life.
Address: Kali Temple Rd, Kalighat, Kolkata, West Bengal
Belur Math or Belur Mutt is one of the most popular places to visit in Kolkata. Owing to its close association with Swami Vivekananda, Belur Math has now become the hub of worldwide spiritual activity. Notable for its architecture the temple is a beautiful example of Ramakrishna Movement. The Math includes a resplendent monastery wherein the ashes of Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekanada and Sarada Devi are placed. The main magnetization of Belur Math is the architectural style that coalesces the elements of a mosque, church and a temple, a message that denotes the richness of religions and a mission that harmonizes all religions. You will be surely caught bu the beauty of this famous place.
Kolkata has a large number of historical monument and building and one can only experience each of them by visiting the city over an extended stay. This is because there are many not mentioned in books and only once you reach Kolkata will you be able to experience and visit new places of interest.