Kolkata - feast for the senses
Kolkata is a feast for the senses and a study in extremes, combining the grandeur of colonial architecture and legacy as the cultural centre of India in a place where slums and suburbs co-exist.
Best of Kalkutta's climate, holidays and festivals
The best time for travel is typically between September and January, avoiding the often excessive heat and humidity of the summer months and the monsoon season that extends from May to September. Holidays and festivals include the Kolkata Book Fair or Kolkata Boi Mela which takes places in January and the Bengali New Year or Poila Baisakh, celebrated near the middle of April. Other festivals celebrate both religion and culture throughout the year.
Before you arrive in Kolkata
A visa is required to travel to India. Those who hold a U.K. passport as a British citizen are able to apply for an e-Tourist Visa online. Your passport must include at least two blank available pages and have a minimum remaining valid period of 180 days. Many airports in India charge a User Development Fee (or UDF) which will be levied in addition to the cost of your airfare unless already included. British travellers will find prices for most items much lower here than at home. A basic meal costs about Rs130 and a decent restaurant meal about Rs350.
Airport to Kolkata, hotels and transport
Transportation options are available near the Arrivals area. Standard bus service to the city centre costs approximately Rs 60. An air conditioned Volvo Bus service runs until 10 pm and costs about RS 50. A pre-paid taxi costs approximately RS 400 and can take anywhere from 40 minutes upwards depending on Kolkata traffic. Accommodation is inexpensive in comparison to Europe and ranges from Rs 700 at the lower end to about Rs 1,500 for a mid-priced hotel room, and RS 5,000 for luxury accommodation. Taxi fares should be negotiated prior to setting out and range from about Rs 10 for short trips to Rs 30 for trips of 30 km or more. Public transportation is the most inexpensive option, featuring both air conditioned and non-air conditioned buses from as low as Rs 6. Inexpensive and full of colourful history and culture, Kolkata is an adventure waiting to be explored.