Photo: Vyron Perelis, Greece
We walk where you want, when you want and at your pace
Personalised City Walks:

We were the first company in Kolkata to run specialised city walks. Since 1998 we have been crafting walks for city guests that cover the bazaars of old Calcutta, the early settlement, the palaces of the Babus, the riverside, the Howrah Bridge, the attractions around the Maidan, the southern lakes, an Islamic quarter, local parks or out of the way parts of the city. We can combine walks with tram, metro or ferry rides and mix walks to match your interests.

If you are staying in central Kolkata and close to the Metro we will meet you at your hotel or guest-house. Otherwise we will arrange a convenient meeting place.

These walks usually take around 4 hours to complete but we also offer shorter walks (see ‘Kolkata Short Walks’ in Destinations).
Some Walks at a glance… 

The British Raj Walk
A walk which concentrates on the centre of the old colonial city

Communities and Bazaars Walk
Our original walk through a myriad of local communities both religious and occupational, through markets to the river.

Palaces of the Babus Walk
A walk through the crowded north and into and past some of the grand and now not so grand palaces of the wealthy babus of Calcutta.

The Riverside Walks
The big Bazaar, the riverside, Howrah Bridge, flower market, colony of artisans making images of the gods and a ferry ride.

Coffee house to the River Walk
A tram to the famous Coffee House, the university, books galore, a vibrant Muslim community, many markets and the river.

A Night Walk
Somewhat off the beaten track through Muslim and Hindu communities, both poor and better off, around the Sealdah market and back down the street of gold.

These are only suggestions and often we combine walks or can go off in any direction you choose.
Art Gallery Tour:

This tour takes in, for the main part, the 3 biggest galleries in Kolkata which are mainly dedicated to contemporary exhibitions.

We travel to these destinations by a combination of metro, taxi and auto rickshaw. It also includes a walk through a park and alongside a lake.

Of course there are other smaller independent galleries, which often have interesting exhibitions. It’s all a matter of what’s on at any given time. However if you wish to take in some of these galleries you will need to cover extra travel expenses as they can be substantial distances from each other.

The tour starts around 3 pm and would normally last for about 3 hours.

City Orientation Tour The city layout, transport system, tour of areas of particular interest e.g. finance district, tourist areas, sporting venues, cultural centres etc, a pocket history and onward travel. Contact people with similar interests, profession or hobby.

Some walks in more detail.

Communities and Bazaars Walk Takes in a poor inner city area showcasing a variety of different communities, including Anglo Indian, Muslim and Chinese and inhabited by squatters and recyclers, tinsmiths and woodworkers, highlighting how these Calcuttans live and work. We reach the frenetically crowded wholesale fruit market to then head for the Hooghly (Ganga) through Burrabazar, small intense market streets (among which we find a delicate Jain marble temple) through to the ubiquitous spice market until we reach the river ghats, the monumental Howrah Bridge and the sensory sensation which is the flower market.

River walks feature the Hooghly River, also known locally as the Ganges. We provide 2 walks that highlight slightly different aspects of the riverside.

River Walk 1. We take the metro (India’s first) to Shovabazar, the site of one of the Kolkata’s original villages (Sutanuti) and walk through Kurmatoli, the enclave where fabulous sculptures of the gods are fashioned for the many religious festivals held in the city. From there we stroll along the river to Baghbazar to ferry back one stop and resume our walk along the river to Ahiratola, passing small river shrines and bathing ghats once privately owned by rich babus. Staying on the river we ferry first under the monumental Howrah Bridge to Howrah Station and then past the cityscape of BBD Bagh to Babughat.

River Walk 2. The Working River. A morning street market, the home of the gods, the back streets of old Calcutta, a ferry ride, a walk across the famous Howrah Bridge, the flower market and river ghats and back via the warehouses and streetcarts of coolies loading the trucks for eastern India. This is the mix in this river centred walk that highlights the life of people whose work is influenced by the proximity of the Ganges.

Palaces of the Babus Walks

Great wealth was made not only by the British and other Europeans during the British Raj but by local men of enterprise, who created untold wealth for themselves and families. Often this was lost on later generations who did not have their forebears’ zeal and application. One of the signs of this wealth were the so called Palaces of Calcutta. These were the lavish, sometimes direct copies of European palaces built by Indians, some of which still stand.

Coffee House and Palaces Walk… starts with a tram ride to the famous old coffee house for a South Indian coffee and then through a poor but vibrant Muslim community. It is just one street but one of our favourites for its life and variety. We then move on to some of the Palaces of North Kolkata built by wealthy Indians as a result of contact with the British Raj. These include the Marble Palace and Rabindranath Tagore’s home but also many more. Chitpur road features, it was once the main street out of old Calcutta. We may come back through an old Bengali area in the north, or by river ferry, depending on time.

Communities and Palaces Walk… we wend our way through a poor inner city area showcasing a variety of different communities; Anglo Indian, Muslim and Chinese. The area is populated by squatters and recyclers, tinsmiths and woodworkers and we see how these Calcuttans live and work. Continuing north we come to what remains of the Palaces of North Kolkata, built by wealthy Indian landowners who became fabulously wealthy as a result of contact with the British Raj. We may return through an old Bengali area in the north (once known as Blacktown), or by river ferry, depending on time.

The Raj Walks

Calcutta became the capital city of the British Raj and on this walk we look at where it all began. By the village of Kalicutta and the waters of Lal Dighi, on the banks of the Hooghly river a city grew. On these walks we roam around the origins of Calcutta and explore the essential buildings that went into the running of the colony, plus meet the people who now live and work in this now untypical corner of greater Kolkata.

The British Raj Walk 1 explores the colonial beginnings of the city highlighting the template of all that is necessary for a colony to function, from the Governor General’s residence (a replica of Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire), the high gothic law courts, places of worship (one of which has a memorial to the victims of the notorious ‘black hole of Calcutta’) to the Writers Building where young clerks were trained in the business of running the colony to various other financial and government institutions. It is a walk back to a more spacious and grander time. We complete the walk with a ferry to Howrah station with the grand Howrah bridge in close view then return to Kolkata with a final walk through the Maidan.

The British Raj Walk 2 and the Disappearing Foreigners Walk explores the colonial beginnings of the city. It shows a template of all that is necessary for a colony to function, from the law courts and government offices to the ruler’s house and place of worship. It is a walk back to a more spacious and grander time. We then move on to see remnants of the many foreign influences that made the city great, from the Parsis and Portugese, the Iranian Jews to the Chinese and Anglo Indians.

A Little History

When we started our Calcutta Walks as they were back in 1998, there were two major ways to get a tour of the city. West Bengal Government Tourism ran a bus tour of the city in the early morning and afternoon. It went mainly to buildings: museums, places of worship and government and civic places of note. You could also do a deal with a local rickshaw wallah who would take you to a few places he thought you might be interested in, like the Mother House or Victoria Memorial. Some travel agents did run tours of the city if clients approached them but they tended to be car based.

We started for the first time to take travellers to see people and communities, not just buildings. Our tours went to places buses and cars could not go and certainly to places that Bengalis thought would not be of any interest to foreigners. But we had the perspective of foreigners. We knew that many people, not all we admit, but many who had travelled through India before reaching Kolkata had been 'templed out'. We also knew that what fascinated the foreigner was often commonplace and uninteresting to the local Indian. On our walks through crowded bazaars, warehouses districts or city back streets we saw no other groups. Recently we have noted others have started to venture into the areas we have been visiting for a decade. As imitation is the best form of flattery we thank them and wish them well.

Kolkata Walks, Impressions
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