Journey to Kolkata
We travelled to Kolkata from Darjeeling.
Darjeeling to Siliguri
We jumped in a shared jeep from the main jeep park in Darjeeling to Siliguri for rs.120 each. We caught the jeep quite early, around 1pm and it’s a good job we did as we did not reach Siliguri until 5pm.
We were a little puzzled with the jeep driver as he turfed us out somewhere in Siliguri and said ‘last stop’ – everyone seemed to jump out, but then they all jumped in again and drove off…
Siliguri to New Jalpaiguri
We spent a little while trying to flag down auto-rickshaw drivers but their quotes were way too high (rs.200). After a little while, two professional men in suits asked us where we wanted to go and when we said NJP they pointed us to a large auto-rickshaw. It turns out these large auto-rickshaws are used as a type of bus. It was great as it cost us rs.20 each to NJP train station. Just look for the unusually large looking rickshaws and look at their windscreen as it says the destination on them – flag them down anywhere and jump in.
New Jalpaiguri to Kolkata
We arrived at the train station 2 hours early, mostly because we were worried that our jeep from Darjeeling may break down and we’d miss our train – fortunately it didn’t. After our bad experience with the train food previously we grabbed some food before we got on the train – there are lots of cheap small restaurants just opposite the train station to choose from.
We had a thali each for rs.50 – one of the cheapest thali’s we’d eaten in India – and one of the biggest.
We had 3 AC tickets for the train and when we got to our cabin it was empty, as we had the bottom and middle bunk we quickly pulled the middle bunk down and made our bed – we did this as we didn’t want anyone to sit on our bottom bunk and stop us from going to sleep! Just as we’d finished making our beds the cabin filled up.
We jumped into our beds to sleep almost as soon as the train set off, although unfortunately we were sharing our cabin with two loud snorers – it seemed as soon as one stopped the other started. Ben yelled at them in the middle of the night to shut up – I think it stopped them for all of 10 minutes.
Kolkata train station to Sudder Street
We arrived in Kolkata at 6am thinking there might be a metro or tram stop in (or near) the train station that would take us to a stop near Sudder Street, this was not the case. Confusingly, the station has a big sign pointing underground saying ‘subway’, but this is a walkway under the road, not the metro. We jumped in an auto-rickshaw to Sudder Street which cost us rs.80.
We were a little worried about getting accommodation in Kolkata as it was the first day of the festival, Durja Purja when we arrived. We went straight to Hotel Galaxy as it had wi-fi and was recommended by LP, but they were full so were took at room at Hotel Maria.
In hindsight we should have looked at a couple more hotels before settling on Hotel Maria but we panicked as LP said hotel rooms would be scarce during Durja Puja, so we felt we were lucky to find a room.
Location: Sudder Street (near Hotel Galaxy)
How much does it cost? Rs.600 for twin room with attached bathroom
The room was very overpriced for what it offered, although it was an adequate size with high ceilings and attached bathroom. The beds were rather hard, although we didn’t have any trouble with bed bugs, but the toilet flush did not work so we had to throw buckets of water in it to manually flush it, and there was a constant drip from the bathroom ceiling like there was a leak in the room above. The electricity supply was also very dubious and we were worried we might get an electric shock as when anything was plugged in it would make a sparking sound.
Blue Sky Café
Location: Just off Sudder Street
How much does it cost? Rs.30 – 150
This is a nice air conditioned café with friendly staff and good food. We only eat here once for breakfast but we were impressed. The food was served in reasonable portions, and there wasn’t a long wait which we have found is rather rare with restaurants serving western style food.
Location: Sudder Street (opposite Hotel Maria)
How much does it cost? Rs. 20 – 130
We eat here for dinner but we wished we didn’t, it’s safe to say it was our worst meal in India – on par with the train food. We had fried dal, rice and chappati’s – they were all served almost cold, and the fried dal tasted like minty washing up water. Good points were service and very cold drinks. We recommend you stay away from this restaurant!
Location: Madge Lane (off Sudder Street)
How much does it cost? Rs.20 – 130
We eat here 3 times for lunch which speaks for itself really – all the food was delicious, served quickly and it was cheap as chips. We tried the veg masala, veg korma and the fried daal and egg (my least favourite).
Location: Archarya Jagadish Chandra Bose Road
How much does it cost? Park only rs.4 / Inside memorial rs.150
When we visited, the queue to get inside the park was rather long which made us question whether it was worth waiting, however we decided to jump in line and the queue actually moved quite quickly. There was a rather well armed policed vehicle parked outside the memorial which made me wonder whether they were expecting some type of riot!
We did not visit the inside of the memorial as art galleries aren’t really our cup of tea, so we just walked round the park and admired the impressive building from the outside.
It is a shame it actually came into our minds, but the memorial park was actually one of the cleanest places we’ve visited in India, there wasn’t rubbish lying on the ground and the water didn’t look polluted which makes a nice change.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
Location: Cathedral Road
How much does it cost? Free
St Pauls Cathedral is located just across the road from the Victoria Memorial meaning both can be visited in a morning / afternoon.
St Paul’s is also a very impressive building and was the first church we’d seen in India.
New Market & Hogg Market
Location: Bertram Street / Hogg Street
How much does it cost? Free
The streets around New Market / Hogg Market are a great place to walk around in the evening as the stalls lining the streets are buzzing and there are various street hawkers selling food.
We visited during the Durja Purja festival and the streets around New Market contained large Pandals (temporary shines) which were elaborately decorated.
Mother Teresa’s Motherhouse
Location: Archarya Jagadish Chandra Bose Road
How much does it cost? Free (closed Thursdays as it is the nuns’ day of prayer)
We weren’t going to visit Mother Teresa’s house originally, however on our last day in Kolkata we took up the offer of a hand pulled rickshaw to the Motherhouse for rs.100 (return) from Hogg Market.
We are glad we visited as it was rather moving – Mother Teresa’s large marble tomb is on the right as you walk in the entrance, there are many pilgrims who come here each day to pray and there were two people praying next to her tomb when we visited. There is also a small museum packed full of exhibits and information about her life including various photo albums. You can also visit her bedroom where she lived from 1953 – 1997 which has been preserved as it was when she was alive.
You can take photos of the tomb but not of the rest of the Motherhouse, however we didn’t take any photographs as we thought it would be rather disrespectful.
We jumped on a bus from Esplanade to the stop for Mullik Ghat (just short of Howrah Bridge) for rs.10 each and walked through Mullik Ghat flower market to Mullik Ghat. This gives a good view of the bridge from which to take photos, although when we visited the Ghat it was rather dirty with a huge pile of rubbish on the Ghat steps.