India's second-largest city
Known as the city on the Hooghly, Kolkata is the cultural capital of India, spawning a number of generations of writers, poets, and film producers.
Best time to visit Kolkata
The best time for a trip to Kolkata is between September and January. Visiting Calcutta between March and June will result in very hot and humid temperatures, while visiting between December and January will result in temperatures as low as 12°C. Lastly, May to September is monsoon season, so it's best to avoid these months as well.
Some great holidays and festivals to keep in mind when planning your trip to Kolkata include:
Kolkata Book Fair: last Wednesday in January Bengali New Year: around the middle of April Kolkata International Film Festival: November 10-17
Things to remember before you travel to Kolkata
While Bengali is the native language of Kolkata, a lot of Hindi is spoken there as well. Life here is also a lot cheaper than in New Delhi and other major Indian cities. There is also great, cheap thali all over for about Rs 130. A typical restaurant meal will cost about Rs 350.
Local Kolkata information
There are a number of ways to get from the airport to the city centre. One is with an AC bus. Located near arrivals, takes bus VS1 to Esplanade (1 to 1.5 hours in length). Or, take VS2 to Howrah. These cost about Rs 60. Another option is to take a Volvo bus. These are air conditioned, cost around Rs 50, and run every 10-15 minutes until 10:00 pm. Pre-paid taxis are also available for around Rs 400 to central Kolkata. This takes at least 40 minutes (depending on traffic). You can pay in the arrivals area between exists 3B and 4 before boarding.
There are a number of accommodation options in Kolkata, ranging from cheap (Rs 700) to average (Rs 1,500) to luxury (Rs 5,000). There are also cheap hostels on Sudder Street, and budget hotels near Howrah station.
An important thing to remember about taxis and autos (three-wheeled rickshaws) while in Calcutta is to negotiate your fare in advance.