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Even when we’ve visited India many times there is always, always something new to discover. It is a world made up of world’s and not just because of the population, but the dynamic diversity of cultures on the subcontinent. Kolkata is the epicenter of West Bengal and it was every bit as novel as we’d hoped.
At first glance Kolkata has a beautiful airport. Like most major cities in India and Asia for that matter it is massive. This has beautiful designs on the ceiling that show a particular art form which we had not seen in other parts of the country, and art designs permeated many of the monuments, hotels and structures we saw.
There is a lot of congestion as is typical, but it took us a good hour to reach our hotel which was by no means in the downtown, so one should leave a lot of time when going places. There is the typical poverty one sees in the overcrowded streets, but Kolkata seems a little more chaotic than Delhi and Mumbai.
As in most big cities, areas range from indescribable squalor to some of the most splendid hospitality. Some may have a hard time seeing or experiencing this. It is easy enough to take an Uber around the city if you don’t feel like walking the distances or going into the crowded neighborhoods. At no point did we feel unsafe, but a lot of the vivid street life can be unsettling.
There are many places to get in touch with the soul of the city. It feels like a real melting pot. There are malls to explore, ethnic neighborhoods like the Christian, Jewish and Muslim quarters. The historic downtown areas, covered markets, Mother Theresa’s motherhouse, the famed universities and jewelry quarter.
There are some excellent posh hotels here where wonderful hospitality is on the menu and it is a very great value for the service. ITC, LaLit, JW Marriott, Oberoi and Taj are some of the top standard bearers for the city’s hospitality.
Kolkata is probably not the first city people think of for Indian tourism, but it is a place with a long history, a unique culture and a rising spot on the tourism infrastructure of those who love exploring Incredible India.