After a long trip from Myanmar, with Biman Bangladesh airlines, I arrived in Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata.
In order to get an official visa and therefore the permission to enter the country, it’s important that you get an e-visa in advance (costs 220$ for 60 days). Another important thing to know is that in Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport there are no shops selling sim cards. Also in order to be able to withdraw money from an ATM in India, you need to inform your bank in advance regarding your visit, if you don’t want any unexpected difficulties with withdrawals and payments using your card.
Kolkata is the capital of the West Bengal state, with population nearly 6 million people. It was founded as an East India Company trading post and it was India’s capital under the British sovereignty. It is known for its grand colonial architecture and the art galleries. But in my opinion the most important that Kolkata offers is the experience to meet the authentic way of Indian life and culture. The city’s local markets, the traffic in every single road with all kinds of vehicles, the Indian street food, the cows that move freely around the city and so many other things that you will see, can easily make you feel like you traveled with a time machine 30 to 40 years in the past.
For my stay I had booked a room at Treebo Trend Glorious Rim Rocks Palace. A good hotel with great staff, willing to help you with any matter you might have.
The first thing I had to do upon my arrival at the hotel, was to put my backpacks in my room and go with an “uber” to New Market to buy a local sim card. Once I did that I was ready to start exploring the city! First stop was at the Victoria Memorial, an amazing construction made by the Indian people, in order to honor the kindness of Queen Victoria.
Second stop: Howrah bridge. Howrah Bridge is a bridge with a suspended span over the Hooghly River in West Bengal, India. Carrying a daily traffic of approximately 100,000 vehicles and possibly more than 150,000 pedestrians, it is the busiest cantilever bridge in the world.
For my second day I decided to just walk around the city, to observe the Indian way of life and visit also the new Market of Kolkata.
For my last day in Kolkata I had booked a day trip to Sundarban National Park. Sundarban national park is a large coastal mangrove forest, shared by India and Bangladesh. The area is home to the Royal Bengal Tiger and other endangered species, such as the Estuarine Crocodile and Ganges River Dolfin. I left my hotel at 5 o’clock in the morning and arrived after a 4-hour drive at the port of Sonakhali Village, in order to take the boat for the safari at the Ganges Delta.
Even though I wasn’t lucky enough to see a royal Bengal Tiger, this boat trip was a great experience.
Where to eat in Kolkata:
Barbeque Nation Salt Lake, Sec 5 for the best Indian food
Oh! Calcutta, another great Indian restaurant in Kolkata
and last, Pan Asia for Japanese and Chinese-cuisine lovers.