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.
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.
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
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
Flight to Calcutta
Calcutta has one of the biggest airports in India and the city is well connected to the other parts of India and abroad. If you are a European tourist or an American tourist, then the best possible way for you to come to Kolkata is to take a British Airways or a Lufthansa flight. British Airways flies three times a week to Kolkata, direct from London, while, Lufthansa flies to Calcutta three times a week direct from Frankfurt. Recently, Air India has started direct flights to London from Kolkata. You can also avail of other Asian Airlines.
If you are an Asian tourist coming to Calcutta from an Asian country or from Australia, then you can take Singapore Airlines, Air Malaysia, Thai Airways or Air Emirates and even Cosmic Air. All these airlines fly to Calcutta five days a week.
Certain other airlines like Gulf Air, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Druk Air, GMG Airlines and Biman Bangladesh also have flights to and from the Kolkata International Airport.
For further details you can contact the offices of these airlines in your city or your travel agent.
The domestic Airlines that operate from Kolkata to other parts of India are:
1. Indian Airlines: www.indian-airlines.com
2. Jet Airways; www.jetairways.com
3. Jetlite: www.jetlite.com
4. Kingfisher Airlines: www.flykingfisher.com
5. Indigo Airlines: www.goindigo.in
6. Spicejet Airlines: www.spicejet.com
7. Air Deccan: www.airdeccan.net
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.
Kolkata is home to India's first underground railway system, (Delhi has India's only other metro system), which started service in 1984. There is just one line that runs for 16.5km north to south from Dum Dum to Tollygunge passing through 15 other stations along the way. A second line has been proposed which will run from Salt Lake City in the east through the city centre, Sealdah and Howrah stations to New Dasnagar in the west. This line may also link up with the city's airport. I found it to be useful for visiting the Victoria Memorial and Kalighat. A ticket in zone 1 for a distance of upto 5km costs just Rs4. Zone 2, distance 5-10km costs Rs6 whilst zone 3 for 10km+ costs Rs8.
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.
We took the highway to travel to the neighbouring district of Burdwan, exiting thru `Vidyasagar Setu' or the new Hooghly bridge. This is a 6 lane access controlled highway. A comfortable drive and it gets you to Burdwan in a little over 2 hours. The highway carries on towards Bombay/ Mumbai, via other prominent towns beyond Burdwan.
This is part of the new and improved look of Indias highways, and more and more stretches of highway are being upgraded, mosltly choosing to follow the access control/ toll road model.
- Road Trip
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Airport Volvo & Green Jnnurm Buses of Kolkata !
Good new for visitors coming from abroad or other parts of India to the city of Kolkata. The Govt. of West Bengal have at last achieved something but not on their own. They had to be whipped by Calcutta High Court in August last year ( 2009). First, they had to scrap all buses and auto rickshaws which are more than 15 years old. Second, all auto rickshaws have to run on green fuel i.e. LPG ( Liquified Petroleum Gas) or CNG( Compressed Natural Gas). Third they will have to bring 1200 Green Buses for the city , which are of international standard used for both standing and sitting. Fourth, they have to introduce Air Conditioned Volvo buses for the passengers from Airport to the city.
So now they have at least introduced 39 Airconditioned Volvo buses from the airport to the city at a very affordable cost. A journey of 36 KMs from Dumdum Airport to Tollygunj will cost Rs.60/- only or USD$ 1.3!. It will take you from various points of the city, you can get down at the place of your choice. It has GPS, announcement system, luggage carrier, excellent seat and standing system. These buses are used in 40 developed countries of the world as city transport from airport.
Add on 15.02.10: Now at the time of editing this tip there are five routes plying from Airport to various places of Kolkata city, including Esplanade or Dharmatala. That means you are with in walking distance of Sudder Street, Chowringhee, where most of the tourists hotels are located and Backpackers prefer to stay. Enjoy your visit to Kolkata! Have a look at the video I have posted.
They start from 8.30Am in the morning and ends at 9.30Pm in the evening. The journey takes about 1.5 hrs from the airport to Tollygunj Metro station. The bus conductor will help you to get down at the place of your choice in case you are new to the city.( See pitures).
The bus leaves from the Domestic & International arrival terminal and ends at Tollygunj Metro station and Vice Versa.
The bus in green is JNNURM bus, which is a city bus, now there are about 600 hundreds of them soon the blue buses will be phased out.
See Video: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/vv/32de/
MTR explains Calcutta's culture
On the entrance, it says: Photos are prohibitated!
Sooner that Doll Doll goes inside of MTR, she is attracted by all kinds of religious paintings which are hang up on the wall. She can't stop her curiosity and fond to those, then she forgets what is written at the entrance. She takes one picture as you can see in the front page. In a minute that she is going to take another, she is suddenly prevented by one local gentleman.
Indians have a strong public consciousness and they tells you what to do.
Doll Doll and her travel partner step into the train.
Almost 90%(or more than that) are Indian men. Although, they leave enough spaces and remind her not to close to the door. When there are seats available, an elder invites Doll Doll and her travel partner for the seat. When they get off, many of them leave the path for them to walk out.
Indians are much polite than Chinese in the public area, and they give enough respect to women(though you are probably women travellers).
Doll Doll looks inside the train.
The atmosphere is very quite and make her a bit nervous - have you tried be surrounded by men only? They are all very polite and quite inside the train. Doll doll notices one couple having fun with their child and they pose back with the friendly smile.
In Chinese MTR, you can hear lots of gossip and non-sense talking. No one wants to smile with you.
There are all kinds of different Indian paintings and famous Indian quotes placed at different stations.
After all, Doll Doll enjoys her 1st Indian MTR experience.
"Radjahni Express" Train from Delhi to Kolkatta
I arrived in Kolkata, following a 20 hour train ride (booked 2 A/C - essentially 2nd class) on the "Radjhani Express" (from Delhi) and it was actually, a surprisingly pleasant journey. Striking up a 'friendship-of-sorts' with a young Indian female, made the journey A LOT more bearable... I had initially been given a 'single' seat/bunk - the kind that is adjacent to the 'double-booths' (if you will) Anyway, i have to admit to being a little uncomfortable, being seated directly infront of two older Indian males, who were very obviously a little uncomfortable with the prospect of me!
Vashundara (the 20 year old Indian female who was travelling to see her newly-wed husband) was kind enough (and 'modern' enough) to approach me - and "ask" the conductor if i might be moved over into her booth... believe me, this train cart was not going to be filling up.
several meals were served (included in the cost of the ticket) and really, it wasn't bad at all. (check out the photo of 'supper')
I would advise (unless you want to 'get down w/nature' or 'rough it' - hey, when in rome & all of that....) booking FIRST CLASS when travelling throughout India. Having said that, the difference in price seems a little extreme, whereas the difference in standard certainly does not... but i'd spend the extra cash. There were no cockroaches on this particular train ride, but there were plenty on another i took (and BIG ones, too) when i thought it necessary to experience "travelling with the locals..."
The lowest class, cheapest seated tickets, are NOT the way to go.
- Budget Travel
Taxi Drivers are the WORST!!!
Taxi Driver's would steal the eyes out of your head... If you at all humanly possible - avoid utilising them at all costs!! or agree on a price BEFORE your journey - though this doesn't always work. I had one such occasion where i threatened to call the Police... and was actually in the process of trying to get a call through to them! This guy (who wasn't aware we had been in the area for a while) took the "scenic route" (if you know what i mean) and then tried charging us about 4x the price!! The situation was eventually resolved, though not quickly, when a very nice Indian man, who thankfully spoke very good English, chased him off after a very heated exchange.
i vowed, then and there, never again.... the word 'hate' is a very strong word. let's just say that i 'really dislike' indian taxi drivers...
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Kolkata's Metro system is fantastic! It may not cover a huge amount of the city, but it's cheap and easy to use for the places it does go to. We travelled from the Park Street station to Kalighat for, I think, 4 rupees, and didn't have any problems with working out what to do or what platform to be on. Very useful indeed, and we got to do a lot of people watching too!
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