Calcutta Ferry rides are very popular not only with the tourists but also among the local populace. They are cheap, very much typical Kolkatan and takes you for a fresh and scenic beauty across the hooghly river, underneath the Howrah bridge, Vidyasagar setu and Vivekananda setu. The ride is really awesome. Not to be missed
Horse drawn carriages are still found in many touristy areas of Kolkata, especially the Chowringhee area, covering the Victoria Memorial, the Maidan, Indian Museum, etc. I have never taken one, but have seen people enjoying on board on many occasions.
I don't want to be diplomatic in writing the tip. There are many people earning their living by pulling rickshaws and there is no meaning of not boarding rickshaws on the ground that one will not travel on another person's labour. People boycotting rickshwas will not debar the pullers from the occupation. They need the money and have chosen the means of earning it.
Well I guess no trip to Kolkata can be complete without a ride on the handpulled rickshaw.
Like every other mode of transport in Kolkata, autorickshaws have pretty low fares and being a foreigner, if the sharp turns of an auto does not scare you, you will enjoy the ride and the price. Autos generally take specific routes and are on shuttle systems which means that you cannot hire them, but share the journey with co-passengers.
Trams in Kolkata are one of the heritage things and although there are only a few routes still existing, we the kolkatans doubt whether this slow, traffic creating transport will ever cease to exist in kolkata. It is in the heart of Kolkatans. We love it. I particularly love the ride from Ballygunge to College street, and I take it often. There are chances of frequent breakdowns, coupled with the very slow pace of the trams that might irritate some people, but I feel that they still, are unique and very Kolkatan. If you have been in Kolkata and not rode on one, that will be a miss
Calcutta does not have a very wide metro network but the single line from Dum Dum to Tollygunge is well maintained and everyday millions of people commute by them. During office hours there is huge rush, but during the rest of the day, the journey is comfortable. metro trains are generally on schedule and are clean.
Buses of Calcutta are the cheapest mode of travel, not only compared to the other transport modes in the city but also in comparison to any transportation mode in any Indian city. A bus ticket for major distances within the city would cost you around Rs. 4.50 to Rs. 8, depending upon the distance. There are also chartered buses for some routes, which will cost you between Rs. 10 to Rs. 20. However, a word of caution here, the buses of Kolkata are well known for their rash driving. So while boarding on or boarding off, please take care. The driver might be in a hurry.
Kolkata is well connected with most Indian cities and many international cities by air. The Airport here is Netaji Subhas International Airport and it is served by most Indian and many International Air cariers.
A FORM OF TRANSPORT TO PLEASE AVOID
I may be old fashioned-I may be naive. But I find the sight of another human being-barefoot,undernourished and often elderly, dragging a rickshaw around with more fortunate and prosperous people aboard , quite repulsive and sad. There has been much controversy about this form of transport in India, and I believe that Kolkata is the one city wherin it still flourishes. There are thousands in Kolkata.
I realise that this is a much needed job for thousands of Rickshaw-wallahs, and they are certainly the only form of transport during the monsoon, when Kolkatas streets become rivers.
These men are however, often exploited by the conglomorates that own the rickshaws.They are paid a pittance for a ride, and then have to pay the owners of the rickshaws so much per day for the use of the rickshaw.
I therfeore implore you- if you feel the necessity to use one- give a good tip, and do not wrangle about the cost. Its only a few rupees anyway. It is very hard work to drag people around the streets of Kolkata.
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Getting around in Kolkata
The Metro is a good way of getting around in Kolkata. It runs through most of the important areas- and is quick, clean and trains arrive every few minutes. Security is tight- so its really safe.
We used it on a daily basis. It costs only a few rupees per trip.
Taxis are good - but make sure that the meter is switched on. The fares are cheap.
The only problem that we encountered with taxis was that the drivers SAY that they know where you want to go, then end up taking you to some other place! Maybe its a language problem- maybe not.But its very frustrating, sitting in the noisy crazy traffic of Kolkata, not having any idea where you may end up. We eventually decided to find someone,anyone, who could speak some English, and they would then explain to the Taxi driver where to take us. It hel[ed a lot.
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The Volvo Buses for comfortable travel.
Now the city of Kolkata has large comfortable Volvo Buses for overnight travel to Puri, Bhubaneshwar, Siliguri, Durgapur, Asansole etc. Started by West Bengal Surface Transport corporation, these buses are made with European Standard. With the new four lane project our roads have become wider and smoother so travel in these buses is real pleasure. They are fast, reliable, clean and always on time.
For Siliguri it leaves at 19.00 hrs reaches at 06.00 hrs- Fare Rs.750.( USD$14/15).
For Puri it leaves at 20.00 hrs. reaches at 07.00 hrs - Fare Rs.750 ( USD$14/15).
For Durgapur it leaves at 12Noon reaches at 15.00 hrs. - Fare Rs.265( USD6/7)
These timings are tentative and may change from time to time so is the fare. The buses leaves from Bus Terminus at Baboo Ghat or opp Eden Gardens. They have several Travel Ticket counters at various places also some travel agents sell their tickets. I shall get more info and then post.
Train Schedules from Howrah/ Sealdah.
The city of Kolkata has two major railway stations Howrah Jn and Sealdah Jn. Most of the trains leave and arrive at these two stations only. Now there is another Railway station has come up in the name of Kolkata!
I have posted here a scan copy of latest Time table as on 24th of July'08. I hope people will grossly benefit from it.
Please download and then view thru' "MICROSOFT OFFICE PICTURE MANAGER", else it will not be visible to normal eyes
Air Time Table N.S.B.Airport Kolkata.
For the benefit of my fellow traveller, I am putting scanned copy of Air timings to and from Netaji Subhash Bose Airport, Kolkata ( CCU). I am sure it will of great help to my friends.
Please download and then view thru' "MICROSOFT OFFICE PICTURE MANAGER", else it will not be visible to normal eyes.
GETTING TO AND AROUND KOLKATA
GETTING TO KOLKATA
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport is situated at Dumdum, 17 kms northeast of the city center. Kolkata airport has flights from all the metros and other major cities of India. Airlines operate flights to Kolkata from most of the countries in the Southeast Asia and some international destinations. From the airport taxis are available for various parts of the city.
Kolkata has two railway stations one at Howrah and other at Sealdah. Both these railway stations are served by a number of express and mail trains from all over the country. Rajdhani Express and Shatabdi Express connect Kolkata to Delhi and nearby cities of Bokaro and Rourkela.
National Highways and other state roads connect Kolkata with rest of the country. Bus services are available to Kolkata from various important towns of West Bengal such as Malda, Raiganj, Burdawan.
Buses, trams, rickshaws, metered taxis, minibuses and metro rail are modes of local transport in the city. Kolkata is the city where India's first underground railway network (metro) was started. Kolkata metro is the fastest and most efficient way to reach different parts of the city.
Kolkata was the first underground rail in India, yet it still has only a single route connecting the north and south of the city, from Dumdum to Tollygunge (work is in progress on the extension to Garia). It is the cleanest, most reliable, least crowded and most efficient of all the transportation Kolkata has to offer. Trains run every 10-15 minutes and at Rs 4-8 it's very economical.
The city has an extensive bus network (possibly the most exhaustive in the whole of India), and this is the cheapest, though not always the most comfortable means of transport. Among the buses that ply the city streets, the deluxe buses run by CSTC (Calcutta State Transport Corporation), CTC (Calcutta Tramways Company) and WBSTC (West Bengal Surface Transport Corporation) are probably the better option. A/C buses are also available to select destinations from near the airport.
Long the world's only major metropolis where human-pulled rickshaws were still a major form of transport, a complete ban was supposed to be imposed in November 2006 - but with 35,000 union members who are unlikely to disappear overnight it was not implemented.
Stops include Esplanade (for Chowringhee), Park Street, Maidan (for Victoria Memorial and Planetarium), Rabindra Sadan and Kalighat.
Calcutta Tramways is the only tram service in all of India, and the oldest surviving electric tram network of Asia. Though decommissioned in some part of the city, electric trams are still one of the means of traveling between places within the city. They move slow on the laid tracks in traffic jammed streets, but they are environment friendly (no emission). Check their site for routes and schedules.
Kolkata just wouldn't look the same without the plethora of yellow ambassador taxis that ply on its roads. They're easily available and relatively cheap, and will usually use their meters! The meters are, however, outdated. The fare is 1.8 times the reading + Rs. 2 if the meter is inside, and 3.6 times the reading+ Rs. 2 if the meter is outside. The outside meters are illegal but still some taxis use it. There is a "green taxi" which is red colored and charges the same. In case you are confused always ask to see the chart that the driver is supposed to carry with him. Expect to pay a bit more if you are going to the outskirts of the city or traveling at night. How much more that depends on your bargaining skills, but it should be at most Rs. 10-20 on top of the taxi meter.
If you are lucky enough you can catch an air-conditioned cab, but those are very few in number.
'Blue Arrow' taxis can be called beforehand on the telephone. They are air-conditioned and have separate rates.
Travelling to Calcutta from other parts of India
Calcutta is well connected to most of the places in India. It has daily flights to and from Delhi, Bombay, Bangalore, Madras(Chennai), Hyderabad, Pune, Lucknow, The North-Eastern States, Bhubaneshwar, Ahmedabad and to most of the other important places.
You can contact the airlines offices for more details. There are four main domestic airlines operating from Calcutta Airport. Their contact numbers are given below:
Jet Airways: +913339840000
Indian Airlines : +91331407
Air Deccan: +919831677470 / +913339008888
Indigo Airlines: +919910383838
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