This section is dedicated to take away all your "I wish someone had told me that before I went!" experiences. This way, you are better prepared for what to expect, what not to expect and can spend less time settling in, and more time making new friends in your chosen hostel. We share our insider knowledge of tips, tricks and important things to look out for in Kolkata. To help you make friends with Kolkata before you visit, we've included a few helpful and fun things you should know about the area. Enjoy!
For many, Kolkata epitomizes the contrasts of India. Kolkata overflows in history and oozes culture. This is a city of historic grandeur and cultural wealth. Yet, this sits side by side with some very real scenes of everyday life. As a transport hub for West India, many travelers find themselves with a few days to spare here in between trains to Dharmasala, buses to Bangladesh, or tiger tours to the Sunderbans. Even for those seasoned travelers of India, Kolkata continues to offer many surprises. Pull back the curtain, engage with the city, and you too will fall under the spell of this great Indian city.
Kolkata is enormous and sprawls in all directions, so you will almost certainly need to take some form of transport from your Kolkata hostel to sights within the city. Those with an appreciation for history and fine architecture will enjoy the Raj-era Victoria Memorial. This feast of white marble offers a quick crash course in Indian colonial history -- with Kolkata serving as the capital of the British Raj. As this is one of Kolkata’s main attractions, your Kolkata hostel will surely be able to give you some sound transport advice. When combined with the streets of BBD Bagh and Tagore’s House, Kolkata carries travelers back to the days of colonial India. Without a question, no other city in India offers this much accessible colonial splendour.
When you’re staying in your Kolkata hostel, no doubt a highlight will be engaging with India’s vibrant Hindu culture. Kolkata’s main temples, including Kumartali, Dakshineswar, and Kalighat, are spread throughout the city. So ask your Kolkata hostel which one is closest and dive straight in. Most temples have on-site guides who can explain the different deities and rituals. If you’re lucky enough to be in town for any of the big Hindu holidays, you’re in for a treat! Make sure to ask your Kolkata hostel if there are any planned processions in place. It's the essential Indian experience!
Kolkata dorms are generally available all year round, but should there be a festival such as Durga Puja (October), rooms can book up quickly. Whatever you do, don’t rush out of Kolkata to your next stop. Your Kolkata hostel will ensure that you are able to experience some of everyday life in one of the world’s great mega-cities.
Written by local enthusiast for Kolkata hostels@dhersz