If you stand in the heart of BBD Bag - the square in Calcutta named after Binoy, Badal and Dinesh, three martyrs of the freedom movement - and throw a pebble in any direction, chances are you'll hit a building with a deep bond to the city's history. Kolkata offers a great deal to the heritage hunter, given the fact that it was the capital of the early British government in India.
Writers' BuildingIt was first built in 1770 and served as the headquarters of the "writers" or junior servants of the East India Company. Today, the refurbished Writers' Building is the seat of the West Bengal government secretariat. It's situated in BBD Bag - a city square named after three martyrs of the freedom movement.
General Post Office
Raj BhavanDuring the early days of British rule, when Calcutta was the capital of British India, Raj Bhavan was the official residence of the Viceroys. The sprawling estate surrounding the building, like the Bhavan itself, are well over 200 years old and now house the Governor of West Bengal. It's a must-see if you're in the Esplanade East area.
Shahid MinarBuilt in 1828 in honor of Sir David Ochterlony who led the British forces to victory in the Nepalese wars, the Shahid Minar - literally meaning Martyrs' Monument - is situated in the northern part of the green belt of Calcutta called the Maidan. The base of the monument is Egyptian, the column Syrian and the crown, a Turkish cupola.
Eden GardensIf the name Ranji Cricket Stadium evokes no response, just ask any Calcuttan for the Eden Gardens. It's synonymous with good cricket and with a capacity of 90,000, is among the top cricketing stadiums in the world. The Eden Gardens complex is also home to the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Indoor stadium.
Indian MuseumOne of the oldest museums in Asia, the Indian Museum was founded in 1814. You'll need an entire day, or more, to fully enjoy the fossils, coins, stones, Gandhara art, meteors and much more that go to make up this museum. Don't miss the 4,000-year-old mummy here, whatever else you do! Also on display is an urn said to contain the Buddha's ashes. Just ask anybody on the road for the way to the "Jadughar" (literally, house of magic).
Timings: 10 am-5 pm, Tuesday-Sunday (Between March and November); 10 am -4.30 pm, Tuesday-Sunday (Between December and February)
Asiatic SocietyThis was home to the first modern museum in Asia, set up as far back as 1814. However, most of those exhibits have now been moved to the Indian Museum. A small collection remains - do check out the rare Tibetan thangkas, and the Ashokan Rock Edict, dating back to the ages of King Ashoka!
Timings: 8 am-7 pm, Monday-Friday
Jorasanko ThakurbariThe rambling Thakurbari was built in the 18th century by Dwarkanath Tagore, the grandfather of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. This is also the place where Rabindranath was born and passed away. The Thakurbari has mostly been converted into a museum now. The Rabindra Bharati University is also situated inside this complex.
Shovabazar RajbariNo visit to Calcutta is complete without experiencing the Durga Puja at the Shovabazar Rajbari. The Rajbari's tradition of publicly celebrating the festival goes back to 1757, to the time of Raja Nobokishan Deb. The first puja was held to celebrate the victory of Lord Robert Clive in the Battle of Plassey.
Victoria MemorialConceived by Lord Curzon in 1905, the marble monument blends the best of British and Mughal architecture. A tour through the Memorial is a great way of reliving the grandeur of imperial-era Britain. The Victoria Memorial is a favorite not just with tourists in Calcutta - its sprawling grounds are synonymous with love nests for the young and restless in the city.
Timings: 10 am-3.30 pm, Tuesday-Sunday (Between November and February); 10 am-4.30 pm, Tuesday-Sunday (Between March and October)
National LibraryFor that rare book, that manuscript you've only read about, or the document you've been dying to check out, National Library is the place to go to in Calcutta. Located within the Belvedere House compound, the institution is the largest of its kind in India. It is home to nearly 1,800,000 books and documents.
Timings: 9 am-8 pm, Monday-Friday; 9.30 am-6 pm, Saturday-Sunday
Fort WilliamBuilt on the banks of the river Hooghly, the Fort derives its name from King William III. A military area till this day, Fort William is easier to visit if you know someone in the Armed Forces. Prior permission from the Commanding Officer can get you access to a tour of the Arsenal.
Marble PalaceSituated on Muktaram Babu Street, the Marble Palace houses a collection of Oriental and Western artifacts. It was built in 1835 by Raja Rajendra Mullick Bahadur. The palace has gone down in legend as the place where urchins and destitutes used to queue up every day as the guards handed out food and money, till a limit of 4000 people per day was reached!
Timings: 10 am-4 pm, Tuesday, Wednesday Friday, Sunday