Formerly known as Dum Dum Airport, Kolkata Airport is the fifth busiest airport in India. Its newly integrated terminal can handle a capacity of up to 25 million visitors, a testament to the increasingly popular tourist destination of this city.
How to get around
Located around 17km away from the city, a journey from the airport to Kolkata takes around 30-40 minutes. The most convenient way to get to the city is through prepaid taxis that are available 24 hours at the airport. It costs around NZD7-8 to get to the city. Bus services are also available. They depart from the airport every 10-15 minutes to the city. If you wish to take public transport, the Dum Dum metro train station is located 5km away from the airport. Buses can bring you to the metro station.
There are several ways to get around the city. When the British arrived in India during the 19th century, they set up a tram transport system. Till date, Kolkata is the only city to continue the public tram service. Each trip costs less than NZD1. You can also explore the city with Kolkata Metro. Purchase a Smartcard to use the metro system. Currently there is only one line operating, running from Dum Dum to Kavi Subhash Terminal. Changing of trains is not required.
What to see and do
Kolkata is home to many religious sites and iconic landmarks. Below listed are a few places located just 30-40 minutes away from the airport for a quick visit or to explore for those who intend to stay longer.
Drop by at Khalighat Kali Temple at Kalighat, one of the three original villages that existed even before the British came. It is free of charge to enter this holy place of Hindu worship.
Located just opposite the temple is Mother Theresa’s Home of the Dying, or known as “Nirmal Hriday” to the locals. Formerly an abandoned Hindu temple, Mother Theresa was granted permission to use the site to establish this hospice. Donations are encouraged although no entrance fee is required.
Another place of worship to visit is the Belur Math Shrine. Marvel at this architectural beauty that amalgamates Hindu, Islamic and Christian motifs to represent the harmonious union between these religions. This place exudes charm and offers a site for tranquillity.
For shopping, head to the New Market at Lindsay street. This market has everything under one roof. Bargain for goods, ranging from food to silvery jewellery. Try the famous Nahoum’s Rich fruit cake at Nahoum & Sons, a confectionary shop popular with locals and tourists.
Visit the Marble Palace, built in the 19th century. It is one of the best-preserved houses in India. Housing a collection of art works from European to Indian paintings, this neo-classical building is surprisingly a private residence. Although you are permmited to visit the place, photography is prohibited.
Kolkata is indeed the cultural capital of India. Although a day is not enough to visit all the attractions in the city, these destinations are situated near the airport for transit visitors to experience the rich Indian culture.