Kolkata is a city that has made quite a name for itself with its laid back attitude, colorful culture, and happy-go-lucky vibes all round. The thing is, if you want to explore the city and take in all its glory, you need to do so at an easy pace. It’s no wonder that cultural and heritage walks are already being sold like hot cakes!
However, if you want to take such a walk at your own pace and take your time with every location, you might want to walk around by yourself instead of going with a group. So, we’ve figured out one of the best routes for a walking tour of Kolkata. Check it out!
Route: Howrah Bridge - St. John’s Church - Calcutta High Court - Raj Bhavan - Indian Market - Chandni Market
Kolkata Walking Tour Distance: 5.9 kms according to Google Maps.
Tour Duration: Four hours.
Opened to the public in 1943, the Howrah Bridge is one of the most significant landmarks in West Bengal. In fact, since it was opened to the public, this cantilever bridge has been used to the point where now it helps as much as 300,000 vehicles and 450,000 pedestrians everyday!
This aesthetically pleasing bridge is also an architectural wonder. This cantilever bridge is built entirely using rivets instead of nuts and bolts. While that is a feat, the views of the Hooghly River that you get from the footpaths on this bridge are beyond compare.
Going across the bridge is the perfect start to a heritage walk in Kolkata. By the way, did you know that Howrah Bridge was renamed to Rabindra Setu in 1965, after the renowned author and poet Rabindranath Tagore? Rabindra Setu is still the official name of this bridge. However, it holds glory under the moniker of Howrah Bridge.
Things to do here: Places like the Writers’ Building, Millennium Park, and Maghen David Synagogue are great detours from the walk. However, if you only want to stop to grab a bite, check out Just Baked, Scoop, or Ganguram.
How much time to spend here: About 30 minutes, other than the time taken to walk across the bridge. There are more than enough to see the most beautiful sights that this iconic monument has to offer. However, we recommend skimming through the ones that seem most interesting to you.
With history that goes beyond a century and a half, St. John’s Church is much more than another vanilla tourist destination. It is an homage to the culture, art, and architectural diversity of Kolkata.
As soon as you enter the compound, you’re welcomed by an off-white structure that will instantly take you back in time. The church itself is built in Neoclassical Victorian architecture, with stones that were very rare in Kolkata at the time. Moreover, the mellow colors compliment the stained glass windows that fill the entire place with a barrage of colors when the sun is out.
Beyond the church, you’ll find a lot of memorials and tombstones in the compound. This is because the land on which the church majestically stands used to be a graveyard before the foundation stone for the church was laid in 1784. It makes you wonder how close this house of the Lord takes you to the resting place for many mortals.
This church is about 2 km away from the Howrah Bridge. This should take you about 20 minutes to cover on foot. However, it's a very pleasant walk that takes you right by the Hooghly River and Millenium Park.
To reach the church, you’ll have to walk alongside Millenium Park, right until you hit MetCalfe Hall. Hang a left onto Hare Street and turn to your right on the next junction on to Council House Street.
Things to do here: The best detours in our opinion would be the Victoria Memorial, The Eden Gardens, or the Marble Palace. On the other hand, the best spots to grab some grub would be Nizam’s, Peter Cat, and Oasis.
How much time to spend here: You can explore enough of the church in about 30 minutes. However, if you want to absorb the serene vibe, you might want to hang around for an hour or so.
Also Read: Kolkata Travel Guide
On your walk, we recommend keeping Calcutta High Court as a place that you’d watch in passing as you would not want to miss the beauty of this spot. That being said, it is close enough to St. John’s Church that you wouldn’t mind taking a walk just to go across this building.
Calcutta High Court is one of the oldest courts in the country. In fact, it is one of the three high courts established in India by Letters Patent by the then queen of England, Queen Victoria. However, the neo-Gothic building that houses the court was built about ten years after the establishment of the court in 1862.
It was designed by a government architect who went by the name of Walter Granville. He loosely modeled this building after the 13th century Cloth Hall in Ypres, Belgium. Ever since it first became functional, this red and white building with a huge circular fountain in its front yard has become one of the most renowned landmarks in Kolkata.
To get here, you will want to get on to Kiran Shankar Roy Road and walk to the next junction. From there, you’ll have to turn left on Old Post Office Street and continue until you get to the end of the street. Then, a right on to Esplanade Row W. will take you straight to the High Court.
Things to do here: St. Paul’s Cathedral and M.P. Birla Planetarium aren't very far from the High Court. On the other hand, Mughal Garden Restaurant Court, New Secretariat Canteen, and The Bridge would be your best bets when it comes to spots to check out around the high court.
How much time to spend here: We recommend not spending more than 20 minutes at this place. The courts are in session most of the time and you might have to rush through the entire place without a lot of sightseeing. So, might as well plan the time you would spend here.
Also Read: 9 Best Bars And Pubs In Kolkata
Built in 1803, Raj Bhavan was one of the most expensive projects of the time. It cost around 63 thousand pounds, which roughly translates to three million pounds, or around 28 crore rupees today.
Spread over 27 acres, this Imperial heritage building was first used by the Governor-General of the East India Company. There are a total of 60 rooms in the Raj Bhavan. However, that is excluding the balconies, banquet halls, and the magnificent throne room. The second floor is the residential area on the premises with four residential suites in four corners of the building.
You need to get permission from the office of the Governor of West Bengal to enter the actual building. We do recommend trying to get that letter as seeing the beautiful Victorian-era interior of the Raj Bhavan is an experience like no other. However, even if you cannot enter the Raj Bhavan, the views of the gardens from the North Gate will give you a fair idea of the elegance and attention to detail that this monument has received.
From Calcutta High Court, you will want to head left when you get out and continue straight until the next junction. Then, hang a left on Government PI W and continue until the next junction. The next right will take you directly to Raj Bhavan. This route is very-well marked and you won’t have a hard time getting here.
Things to do here: Bangiya Sahitya Parishad Chitrasala and Calcutta Police Museum are pretty close to the Raj Bhavan and pretty cool places, in our humble opinion. However, if you want to munch a little, The Fat Filer Burgers and Kay Kay’s should be on your list.
How much time to spend here: Another 30 - 40 minutes at the Raj Bhavan gives you enough time to take a tour of it, click photos, and chill a little.
Also Read: Must Try Street-Food In Kolkata
Founded in 1814 by the Asiatic Society of Bengal, the Indian Museum is the oldest and largest museum of its kind in the entire Asia-Pacific region. This project was started as an effort to conserve pieces of history that depict the story of India from prehistoric to Muslim times.
The present building that serves as the premises for the Indian Museum was opened in 1875 and contains different sections for geology, zoology, archaeology, industry, and art. The art section here is one of the most significant collections with examples of carpets, glass, textiles, lacquer-based works, and pottery. In fact, there is a painting done on a palm leaflet that is a highlight in the museum. This is because it is the first painting made on a canvas of its sort.
The building itself is a beautiful white structure with simple columns embellished on the exterior. The style of architecture is Neoclassical and has a long sequence of free standing pavilions on every floor. As an Indian national, you will have to buy a ticket to enter the museum and it will cost you about INR 10. However, if you’re a foreign tourist in India, the ticket will cost you about INR 150. Please note that you will need to have a government-issued photo ID.
To get here, you’ll need to get on Marx Engels Beethi Road and get onto Sido Kanhu Dahar. Then, hang a right on to Chowringhee Road and continue straight for about five to seven minutes and your destination will be on your right.
Things to do here: Oxford Bookstore and Masters Collection Art Gallery are great detours from a walk around Kolkata. You get to be in the presence of some of the greatest minds while chilling in the AC away from the sun. On the other hand, Khalsa, SOI, and Zaranj are some of the best eateries around the area.
How much time to spend here: Take an hour or so and go around this huge museum. We think this place deserves a lot more attention. However, you will quickly figure out what galleries are your favorite and check out the place accordingly.
Also Read: 7 Exciting Things To Do In West Bengal
Chandni Chowk Market is one of the oldest bazaars and commercial neighborhoods in Kolkata. In fact, you can find references to ‘Chandni Choke Bazaar’ in a map from 1748. This makes it very clear that this place has been integral to the city’s trades for centuries.
Nowadays, Chandni Chowk market is a busy and colorful place pretty much all day. It's known as a hub for electronics on the cheap. However, there’s much more to it than meets the eye. You can easily find accessories, souvenirs, and apparel in the market at very inexpensive rates. That being said, this place requires you to have impeccable shopping skills as you will have to bargain to the end of your wits - or the shopkeepers’.
The markets are a labyrinth of passages lined with street vendors, small shops, and pigeon stalls. The one thing that you’ll carry out of the market for sure is the smell of cigarettes, sherbets, and shishas. If you’re shopping, you need bargaining skills. If you’re just visiting, you need caution. This place is notorious for stolen goods, in turn encouraging theft. While that risk is present, this market is an experience you must not miss.
Things to do here: Shop and eat to your heart’s content! Your one-day walking tour of Kolkata has come to an end, and you can while away all you like.
How much time to spend here: Since you’re going to be shopping, we recommend keeping a couple of hours aside for this. However, as this market is the end of the walk, you can take all the time you want. Have fun!
Kolkata is a weird combination of heritage, historage, modern-age norms, and the attitude of the nawabs. You’ll find the friendliest people and the most colorful culture in this city. Taking a walking tour of Kolkata is one of the best ways to experience this city as intimately and possible - and it’s great cardio! We hope you find all of these spots as amazing as we do and you find many more spots as well. Cheers!
What Is The Best Place To Visit During A Walk In Kolkata?
Howrah Bridge, along with its three sister bridges Vidyasagar Setu, Vivekananda Setu, and Nivedita Setu, are a spectacle that you should visit on your walk in Kolkata.
What Is A Good Place To Go Shopping in Kolkata?
Chandni Market and the bazaars around Chandni Chowk are the best places to go shopping in Kolkata. You will find a majority of locals vouching for these bazaars as the primary hubs for electronic goods. However, you can find great deals on accessories, apparel, and Khadi products.
Is Taking A Walking Tour In Kolkata Worth It?
Absolutely! Walking across the city will take you to some of the most wondrous sights that it is home to. Moreover, the people you meet and converse with add such a spark to your time in Kolkata that you might want to move to the city entirely.
Is Howrah Bridge One Of The Seven Wonders Of The World?
The iconic bridge in Kolkata that is named after one of the most prominent literary personalities in the country, Rabindra Setu, is a part of the Seven Wonders of the World.
Who Built St. John’s Church In Kolkata?
St. John’s Church was erected by the East India Company in Kolkata after it was declared as the capital of British India.
What Is Kolkata Famous For?
Kolkata is famous for its blend of an old-world charm seen in the colonial architecture, culture, art galleries and even the food.
Is Kolkata Safe?
Kolkata is known to be very safe for every kind of traveler. In fact, the National Crime Records Bureau declared Kolkata as one of the safest cities in 2020.
What Is The Famous Food Of Kolkata?
Some dishes like Kolkata biryani, Macher jhol, and Kosha Mangsho are known to be delicacies that you must try when in Kolkata.