Kolkata Travel Guide

Festivals in Kolkata

Rathyatra - Travel along with the Lord of Puri, Jagannath, as his chariot takes him to his midsummer vacation. Legend has it that Jagannath, a reincarnation of Lord Vishnu, goes on this vacation with his brother Balaram and sister Subhadra. Religious fervor runs high and the streets of Kolkata turn into a mélange of colors. Devotees take turns to pull gigantic chariots bearing idols of the three divinities through the narrow bylanes of the city. Do not forget the Rathyatra in Mahesh in the nearby Hooghly district - it's the oldest in the state. The Mahesh Rathyatra of 1875 is also special as it provided the inspiration for Radharani, a famous novel by Bengali poet and author Bankim Chandra Chatterjee.

Poila Baisakh - The first month of the Bengali calendar, Baishakh, marks the beginning of the crop cycle in Bengal. A lot of Bengali weddings are held in this month, and new businesses initiated. The first day of this month is called Poila Baisakh is celebrated as the Bengali New Year. Chances are if you step into a shop in Kolkata on this day, you'll be offered sweets and maybe the odd gift or two. Traders start the New Year by inaugurating new accounting books.

Kali Puja - A festival to propitiate the dark goddess Kali, Kali Puja is held in the dark of a new moon night. With her blue-black skin, blood-smeared face, terrifying third eye, Kali wears little other than necklaces of snakes and skulls. In her four hands, she bears weapons and blessings for her followers.

Durga Puja - For four days in September-October, Kolkata comes to a standstill as almost everyone in the city throngs its streets, visiting the pandals dressed in their festive best and pampering their taste buds with food from the stalls that spring up on the roadsides. Incense, drumbeats, chants, laughter, the sizzle and smell of food characterize this festival dedicated to Goddess Durga. Durga Puja is a chance to meet old friends, buy new clothes, walk the streets of the city till the wee hours of the morning, and, of course, admire the opus of idol makers who craft beautiful idols of Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganeshand Kartik out of bamboo, straw, jute, clay and paint.
Durgapuja in Kolkata

Bhai Phota - This is the day brothers and sisters celebrate their familial ties. Women maintain a fast through the morning and break it by applying a dab of sandalwood to their brothers' foreheads, praying for their safety and welfare and plying them with sweets. In turn they receive gifts from their brothers. Try obtaining an invite to a Bengali house on this day if you can - it's a day when the kitchen turns out some of its best fare of the year!

Events in Kolkata

Calcutta Book Fair - The land of publishers, book lovers and students, the Book Fair held in early February is a place that every family in Kolkata makes a beeline for. The fair showcases the best of not just Indian publishers, but also booksellers, writers and bibliophiles from all corners of the globe. Great discounts are offered on a mind-boggling array of titles as visitors to the fair find their way in and out of the colorful stalls, stopping every now and then to grab a bite, get their portraits painted or just listen to the music filtering through the fair grounds.

Handloom Expo - Every alternate year, the Maidan in Kolkata is host to the Handloom Expo. The fair started way back in 1982. For 21 days, people from the city as well as tourists in Calcutta shop for everything from bed linen to clothes at amazingly affordable prices. So, plan your trip to Kolkata with Makemytrip.com, a leading travel and tours agency and stay in one of the best hotels of Kolkata, India.

Vidyasagar Mela - Dedicated to the Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, the Vidyasagar Mela is an attempt to bring alive the ideals of the scholar. In honor of his commitment to social reform, the fair spreads the message of education and social welfare. It also showcases the folk culture of Kolkata. Health camps and seminars are also an exclusive feature of this fair.

Poush Mela - This three-day fair celebrates the founding day of Rabindranath Tagore's Shantiniketan. Held in late December, the fair is marked by prayers, cultural fests, crafts bazaars and folk performances. Poush Mela is a good occasion to explore the cultural features of Shantiniketan. The last day of the fair is marked by prayers for the deceased who were associated with Shantiniketan.

Getting There & Away to Kolkata

Flights to Kolkata
Kolkata is well connected with direct domestic airlines services to and from Kolkata to Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Patna, Varanasi, Lucknow, etc. there are also direct flights to most of the countries in the Southeast Asia. The airport is situated at Dumdum, about 17 km northeast of the city center.
Trains to Kolkata
Trains from the other parts of the country connect Calcutta. The city has two major railway stations- one at Howrah and the other at Sealdah.
Car and Bus Service to Kolkata
Kolkata is also connected with most of the Indian cities by road. The Esplanade Terminus in the heart of Kolkata is the main bus terminus. A new development is the starting of Dhaka-Kolkata bus service. The buses are colorful, air-conditioned, and comfortable. Plan your trip to Kolkata with MakeMyTrip.com, a leading travel and tours agency and stay in one of the best hotels of Kolkata, India.
Getting Around in Kolkata

Kolkata has virtually all the different modes of local transport - trams, buses, rickshaws, metered taxis and minibuses. The services are basic and crowded but cheap. The Metro, India's first and Kokata's pride and joy, provides a clean, fast and efficient way to get around.
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