On the bank of the Hooghly river, the historic city of Kolkata offers a wealth of artistic and cultural attractions. The capital of West Bengal, it has a wide choice of theatres, music and cinemas with restaurants offering varied cuisine.
Although Kolkata is a busy city all year round, the climate is at its best between September and January. The summer, from March to June, can be humid and hot with the monsoon season running between May and September. Winter is in December and January, with low temperatures of 12 degrees. Popular cultural events include the Kolkata Book Fair, starting in late January, and Kolkata International Film Festival in November. Celebrations for the Bengali New Year take place around April 15. In October there is a festival in honour of the Goddess Durga and in November the Goddess Kali is honoured with fireworks and lights.
People visiting Kolkata from the UK will need a visa, but British citizens may be eligible to apply for an e-Tourist visa. You must also ensure your passport is valid for at least 180 days and includes two blank pages. Many Indian airports charge a UDF or User Development Fee of ca. Rs 1,000, usually levied as part of the air fare. The cost of living is in general much lower than in the UK. A restaurant meal might cost about Rs 350, while thali start from around Rs 130.
On arrival at the main airport, you will find a choice of transport options. The AC Bus leaves from near the arrivals area. The VS1 bus travels to Esplanade, taking around 60 to 90 minutes, while the VS2 takes the route to Howrah. Fares are approximately Rs 60. The air-conditioned Volvo Bus costs around 50 rupees for a trip. A pre-paid taxi ride to central Kolkata will take from about 40 minutes and cost around Rs400. Another option is to make the 3-mile journey from the airport by taxi or Volvo bus to Dum Dum Station and then take the metro into central Kolkata. The metro fare is ca Rs 10. It is advisable to negotiate fares in advance for both taxis and autos. Accommodation in Kolkata includes budget hotels in the area near Howrah Station and low-priced hostels in Sudder Street.