Kolkata - The City of Joy
Kolkata used to be known as Calcutta and is the capital of West Bangal. It is a commercial and educational centre for East India making it a fascinating place to visit for any budding tourist.
Kolkata climate highlights
The best time to visit Kolkata is between September and January. March to June sees hot and humid weather, December to January has lows of 12 degrees Centigrade and it's advisable to avoid monsoon season between May and September.
The last Wednesday in January is the Kolkata Book Fair, around April 15th is the Bengali New Year. The beginning of October is the Durga Puja festival in honour of the Goddess Durga. November sees a festival to honour Goddess Kali with lights and fireworks followed by the Kolkata International Film Festival.
Kolkata - entry requirements and prices
Before you travel, be aware that you will need a visa to enter the country. Your passport needs to have two blank pages and 100 days minimum left on it when applying. Things are much cheaper than the UK with street food being around Rs 130 and a restaurant meal around Rs 350.
Local travel details
To get from the airport to the city centre you can get the AC Bus near arrivals at a cost of around Rs 60, VS1 takes you to Esplanade and the VS2 to Howrah. A pre-paid taxi will cost around Rs 400 and take 40 minutes or a little longer in heavy traffic. You can pay for these in arrivals between exit 3B and 4. You could also get a bus or taxi to Dum Dum then a Metro to the centre for Rs 10 plus the taxi or bus fare.
Accommodation is cheap in Kolkata, a budget hotel is around Rs 700, mid range is around Rs 1,500 and luxury around Rs 5,000. There are cheap hostels on Sudder Street and budget hotels near Howrah station.
Agree on taxi and auto fares before you set off. Taxi prices start at Rs 25 for the first 2 km and are Rs 18 p/km after this. Autos have fixed routes with set fares. The Metro has 6 zones, smartcards cost from around Rs 100 to Rs 1,000 and a tourist smartcard is around Rs 250 for unlimited travel in Zone 1. The tram costs from Rs 7 depending on the distance. The bus is the cheapest option. Non air-conditioned buses cost around Rs 6 per trip. Deluxe buses are a bit more expensive.