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Kolkata Always Serving Its Best

Kolkata offers more than rossogolla, misti doi and macher jhol. Be it art and culture, handicrafts, music, cuisine or cinema, the city greets its visitors with fanfare

Only last month a friend of ours came down from Delhi to attend a conference the city hosted. This was her first trip to Kolkata, the city whose cuisine she had heard much about. She could not wait to try the Macher Jhol (typical Bengali fish curry), the Misti Doi (Bengali dessert), and the Rossogolla made famous worldwide by K. C. Das & Grandsons.

So she skipped the lunch at the conference which was being hosted at a luxury hotel in the city and insisted that I take her out to savour these delicacies. We had a sumptuous lunch at an authentic Bengali restaurant of a star-hotel at Esplanade in central Kolkata. When asked whether the fare had been up to her expectations, she replied in one word. “Overwhelming.” Besides the cuisine what had impressed her was the hospitality extended by the hotel staff. Later, after picking up tins of rossogolla and misti doi from the nearby K C Das’s shop to take back home, on her way to the airport, she lamented about not being able to take some ‘Macher Jhol’. And, she added, given a chance she would also have wanted to take the Bengali hospitality home!

Kolkata, or for that matter Bengal, offers more than rossogolla, misti doi and macher jhol. Be it art and culture, handicrafts, music, cuisine, cinema, Kolkata greets its visitors with fanfare.

Millions the worldover cherish their ‘tryst’ with the city and its warm, friendly and hospitable people. To the ‘traveller’ visiting the city to crack a business deal, or just as a tourist, the city offers a host of dining and shopping experience.

Kolkata is considered as the ‘Gateway to the East’. It is one of the biggest wholesale and retail markets of the eastern region. Business worth several crores of rupees is transacted in the dingy lanes and bylanes of Burrabazar, the biggest wholesale market of the region.

The city has several air-conditioned markets with swanky exteriors and exquisitely crafted interiors for those who can afford it and for the less fortunate the markets at Gariahat and Shyambazar offer an array of shopping options.

But to cap them all is the New Market, which still remains the biggest draw of the tourists. From ‘cucumbers’ to ‘cargos’ and from ‘shoe-strings to ‘sarees’ everything is available under one roof at this century-old market. New Market offers the ultimate shopping experience for the people of the city. During the annual ‘Durga Puja’, the area in and around New Market wears a festive look. People from different parts of the state and even neighbouring states come to shop here.

One can pick up traditional Bengali sarees from different shops dotting the city. Right from College Street and Bidhan Sarani in the north, down to Gariahat and Dakshinapan Shopping Complex in the south, the choicest of sarees are on display at the shops. Hundreds of jewellery shops in Bowbazar and Bhowanipore are also a must-see for the womenfolk.

Park Street, the fashion street of the city and the arterial roads, JL Nehru Road, Shakespeare Sarani, Camac Street and Russel Street area are other happening spots of the city. Spacious shopping malls, food joints, music stores, bookstores and a host of multi-cuisine restaurants are situated here. You can shop till you drop and chill out at the restaurants or the coffee pubs.

No other city offers a dining experience as varied as Kolkata. Right from the restaurants at the five-star hotels to the roadside eateries, the city has everything from Indian to Chinese, and from Continental to Mughlai and of course authentic Bengali cuisine.

‘Tea’ has been a favourite pastime of the Bengalis for ages. They believe that anytime is tea time and enjoy tea in any form offered. The typical Bengali ‘adda’ (gathering) is incomplete without a brewing cup of tea. So you would be finding a tea stall in every nook and corner of the city. But if you want to enjoy a cup of authentic Darjeeling tea then drive down to Dolly’s Tea Shop at the Dakshinapan Shopping Complex in Dhakuria.

The city has always been regarded as the ‘Cultural hub of the country’. In music, art and culture, plays, literature, Kolkata has reigned supreme. The cultural activities of the city revolve round the Nandan-Rabindra Sadan complex at the heart of the city. Plays are enacted at the adjoining Academy of Fine Arts and cultural programmes are regularly organised at Rabindra Sadan. Nadan, the latest hotspot of the city hosts national and international film festivals.

The city offers wholesome entertainment facilities for the ‘NexGen’ crowd too. The discotheques of the city hotels and clubs cater to their entertainment needs.

So if you have not still checked out the experience called ‘Kolkata’ make sure you do it at the earliest. We promise you that after returning home, you too will clamour ‘yeh dil maange more’, just as our friend from Delhi did.