Places to Visit in Kolkata: Discovering Architectural Marvel

Must-see in the City of Joy: Kolkata’s architectural marvels

I was yearning to visit my favourite city Kolkata yet again. But this time, I decided to focus on exploring the architectural marvels of the city. The exquisite designs and unparalleled beauty of these places in Kolkata was beyond my imagination.

“Calcutta is beautiful. Wherever you place a camera, you get a vision,” said the celebrated Indian director Pradeep Sarkar. And nothing could be more accurate. The bustling city of Kolkata, popularly known as the ‘City of Joy’, is a potpourri of rich culture, delectable cuisine and astonishing art. It is a paradise for budding poets, artists and writers, having birthed many and perhaps lead by Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, the most illustrious, multi-faceted poet, writer, painter, philosopher, singer and composer renowned the world over.

When one visits Kolkata, it becomes difficult to choose an itinerary that fits all of its amazing attractions . In addition, there are several hidden treasures including historical sites that are also architectural marvels. On top of it all, thousands of little honest shops offer lip-smacking sweets and other Bengali delicacies wherever you stroll. Indeed, Kolkata never fails to surprise me, no matter how many times I visit.

For my recent visit, I decided to explore the architectural marvels of the city. Although discovering food is always on the list but my next trip is solely reserved for a food sojourn of Kolkata! This time, I explored heritage buildings, tried to understand the architecture and the history behind them and came back more knowledgeable than before. So join me as I take you through some of my favourite buildings and monuments of Kolkata.

Victoria Memorial

Victoria Memorial

In the very heart of the city is the Victoria Memorial. Having only glimpsed at it before, I decided to start my Kolkata diaries with this large marble building. Also known as the ‘Taj of the Raj’, it was built between 1906 and 1921 in the memory of Queen Victoria. It is a massive white monument in the midst of acres of greenery and several water bodies. If you have visited the Taj Mahal or even seen it in photographs, you might see a flash of resemblance here. However, this grand white makrana marble building has a glory of its own and I realised that when I spent considerable time here, looking at each of the artifacts and the unique designs of the building.

The Victoria Memorial displays prominent features of the Anglo-Indian Architecture like many other buildings built by the British in the imperial era. What struck me immediately was the bronze statue of Queen Victoria by George Frampton. I learnt that the architect of the Victoria Memorial was William Emerson. Interestingly, the dome, the corner towers and the octagonal-domed chattris reminded me of the grandiose and magic of the Taj Mahal yet again.

I spent close to a day in its cobbled pathways, lush green patches,  lavish rooms and landscaped gardens.

Howrah Bridge

Howrah Bridge

It was the sunset at the Hooghly that I did not want to miss out on this time. If you ask any seasoned traveller, they’ll agree that Kolkata is synonymous with the Howrah Bridge.

The history of the bridge is interesting as well. Since the traffic had increased manifold over the years, a new bridge had been built, designed by Rendel, Palmer, and Tritton. Completed in 1942, it is one of the longest cantilever bridges in the world. The most striking feature of this bridge is that it is built without using a single nut or bolt and is only held together by rivets.

While I stood at the river ghat, mesmerised by the magnificent bridge, the sun set, painting Hooghly tangerine. As night ascended, I could not believe my eyes when the Howrah Bridge got spectacularly lit up. I lived a cinematic experience as I took a boat ride in the Hooghly, turning to the dazzling Howrah bridge repeatedly. A surreal experience under the blanket of a starry night sky!

St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral

Totally stumped by the aura of the bridge at  night, the next morning, I woke up to offer prayers and marvel at the St. Paul’s cathedral – one of the biggest and oldest churches of India.

St Paul’s Cathedral is an excellent example of Indo-Gothic architecture, a style which infuses modern construction design to meet Indian climatic conditions.

I was especially awestruck by the spire that had been damaged by two earthquakes but was later rebuilt into a new attractive design.

The main attraction of the church however was its grand prayer hall, where it felt akin to standing inside a European church. My jaw dropped when I saw the outstanding woodwork and colourful stained glass on every arched window. The biggest window, opposite to the altar, left me speechless.

Elegant and bright, the church was breathtakingly beautiful.

Marble Palace, Kolkata

Marble Palace, Kolkata

In a small lane of North Kolkata is a palatial house, a colossal structure belonging to Raja Rajendra Mullick. Popularly known as the Marble Palace, the façade of this mansion is built in neoclassical style.

The Marble Palace continues to be the residence of Raja Rajendra Mullick’s descendants and is considered the most well-preserved monuments of Kolkata. Surrounded by sprawling lawns, fountains and a private zoo, the galleries have statues, portraits, mirrors, chandeliers and paintings by the English, Dutch and Italian artists.

Belur Math

Belur Math

On the west bank of the Hooghly River is the Belur Math, Swami Vivekananda’s Ramakrishna Math and Mission. From a distance, it can be seen as a unique architecture marvel. The beauty of this temple or math lies in the fact that it displays influences of Buddhist, Hindu, Mughal and Renaissance architecture all over. There is a museum and monastery inside its premises that have used stone slabs, cladding, unique teak wood and concrete extensively. The vast serene campus is where one is sure to experience peace and divinity.

I came out completely mesmerized by the marvels I had seen in the last three days. This facet of Kolkata’s beauty had remained unexplored by me so far. I felt transported into that era as I visited each building.

Kolkata will always keep calling the traveller in me back to offer something new. After all, the joy is unlimited here!


Which city is known as the ‘city of joy’?

The bustling city of Kolkata is popularly known as the ‘City of Joy’.

Which monument is popularly known as the ‘Taj of the Raj’?

Also called the ‘Taj of the Raj’, the Victoria Memorial was built between 1906 and 1921 in the memory of Queen Victoria.

Who was the architect of the Victoria Memorial?

The architect of the Victoria Memorial was William Emerson.

What is the architecture style of St. Paul’s Cathedral?

This church is an excellent example of splendid Indo-Gothic architecture, a style which infuses modern construction design to meet Indian climatic conditions.




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