Kolkata (Formerly Calcutta) is 300 years old city founded by Britishers. It was capital of British India. It’s Three centuries of history is chequered with eclectic mix east and west. Here you can find grand buildings of Raj jostling for attention with modern skyscrapers. The city is colorful, overbearing, vibrant and yet offers a slow pace to travelers and residents alike. It offers numerous photo opportunities delighting serious photographers and casual visitors hunting for Instagram pictures. It is precisely for this reason, there are many photographers, travel guides offering photowalks which are worthy of Instagram post.
While these walks are typically conducted in 3 to 4 hours and cost around $30, they are fast paced cookie cutter experience. The old Calcutta is a city best explored at slow pace. City is generally safe for foreigners and other visitors and a photo walk by yourself or with a group of like minded friends is totally possible.
We have put together some of the beautiful facet that city has to offer along with useful information such as public transport, best time to visit and even best spots to take professional looking pictures so that it is possible for you to do it yourself a memorable Kolkata photo walk tour without spending a rupee!
Here is another picture capturing rain soaked Kolkata with its iconic yet quirky Yellow taxis still dominating road, holding on to yesterday.
How To Do Kolkata Photowalk Yourself Without A Guide
Places To Cover In Do It Yourself Kolkata Photowalk
A quick search on Google about Kolkata Photowalk will return several website, all offering a photo-walk with a guide or photographers. Sometimes they also tell you few historical facts and anecdotal tale. However, all those tours will generally take you to following areas.
- Mullick Bazaar Flower Market
- Howrah Bridge
- Buildings of Colonial Calcutta
- Bow Barracks
- Old Calcutta (North) – Chitpur & Sovabazar
- Idol making at Kumartuli
- Walk along riverside
- Bazaars, Taxi and Tram pictures
Mullick Bazaar Flower Market
Time needed: 3 hours and 30 minutes.
- Where Is It?
Mullick bazaar flower market is a wholesale flower market located close to Howrah Railway station. It is near Mullick Ghat river bank.
- Best Time To Visit
Early morning preferably just before Sunrise.
- How To Reach?
Public transportation in early hours may be limited. It is best to book an Uber or hail any Yellow cab. The market is over 125 years old and everyone knows it.
- What To Expect In Mullick Bazaar Flower Market
Although Kolkata would still be sleeping but this place comes to life in early hours of the day. Wholesale shops start working before sunrise and market closes by 9 am. You can expect it to be crowded, noisy and yet colorful and vibrant. It is unlike Bangkok’s floating market in many ways.
Howrah bridge is most recognisable landmark of Kolkata. The bridge, built by Britishers, has graced many book covers, movies and articles about Kolkata. It is a must visit place for any Kolkata photography walk tour.
Please note that is a ban on taking selfie on Howrah bridge itself on the basis of some archaic law promulgated during 1960s when India fought two wars with China and Pakistan. In days of satellite imagery such laws are utterly outdated.
However, Taking picture from far away places like banks of Hugli river notebly Mullick Ghat is possible. Another way is to take a commuter ferry from Babu Ghat or hire a dinghy boat.
Another interesting idea is to take a ferry from Fairlie Place to Bag Bazaar Ghat. The total ride of little under an hour is good way to explore Kolkata through waterways.
Colonial Buildings Of Kolkata
Kolkata or Calcutta as called by Britishers who founded, developed and lived in this city for more than two hundred years have built many grand buildings. Some of those architectural beauties have survived and delights visitors hunting for perfect instagram pictures.
Good news is that most of them are concentrated around BBD Bagh (formerly Dalhousie Square) Here is google map link.
- Writer’s Building
- General Post Office (GPO)
- St. John’s Church
- Metcalfe Hall
- Calcutta High Court
- Standard Life Assurance Building
- Lal Dighi
- Central Telegraph Office
- Raj Bhawan
- St. Andrew’s Church
- Calcutta Town Hall
I would set aside 3 to 4 hours preferably on Sunday (it is part of commercial business district, very busy during work week) or early morning hours in week days. It would be welcome break to end this tour with breakfast or drinks at Great Eastern Hotel, a heritage hotel located within historic quarters.
Bow Barrack was constructed during WW1 for army and later it was used by city’s anglo-indian and Chinese minorities. The place is still preserved in bygone era. You can find old houses and senior residents who still can share a story or two about city’s glorious past.
Old China town is few minutes walk from here and is an excellent place to try authentic Chinese food prepared by expatriate Chinese residents of Kolkata.
If time permits, one can continue to walk along old Chilpur road. One can expect to find old buildings of 19th century and Nakhoda mosque.
Chitpur road lead to north Kolkata which is old part of Kolkata where aristocrats of Bengal lived. There is a chance to see some old palaces. It is also hub of Durga idol making (Kumartuli are) where you can see artists making idols in their workshops.
For years and years, even during the time of my first visit in 1962, it has been said that Calcutta was dying, that its port was silting up, its antiquated industry declining, but Calcutta hadn’t died.V S Naipaul
Kolkata is chaotic at first but in the chaos there is order which once understood is beautiful. Here you can meet many artists, photographers and writers. City thrives on culture and majority of Indian Nobel prize winners have Bengali roots. Take things slow to do it yourself Kolkata photowalk, the results will be rewarding.