Travel The World With Kids: Kolkata

Posted: January 3, 2012

In The Women’s Web ‘Travel The World With Kids’ series, we talk to mums from all over the globe who are interested in exploring their backyard attractions with their tiny tots! We hope you find them useful, if someday you choose to visit their part of the world. Presented in Q&A format, this one is with Sunayana Roy from Kolkata, affectionately known as Sue of Sunny Days!

A city with a flavour of its own – be it in the soft, spongy rasgullas or the remnants of the British Raj; known for its intellectual citizens, does Kolkata have interesting kid-friendly attractions too? Let’s find out!

Hi Sue! We heard your interesting views on the Celeb Baby Culture through our podcast. Do tell us a little more about yourself.

I live in Kolkata with my husband and 5 year old son. I write for a living and for fun.

Do you have any tips for parents visiting Kolkata with young kids?

Carry drinking water, wipes/clean towel and a change of clothes wherever you go. Public toilets cannot be depended upon. The street food is great and mostly safe, but carry your own drinking water.

What have been some of your favourite outings in Kolkata with your child?

The Victoria Memorial is great for winter picnics. Early morning tram rides are a big hit with children of all ages – it’s best to ride from terminus to terminus. Children enjoy walking around the depot.

Ferry rides down the Hooghly, the 6 am Sunday Chinese breakfast at Poddar Court (for older children), Nicco Park, Science City and Nalban (boating) are other fun things to do around the year.

Calcutta Walks (I used to be an ‘explorer’) is fun for the entire family. I recommend mentioning the ages of possible walkers to the company so that they can tailor the walk accordingly.

For tourists visiting Kolkata for the first time, do you have any particular suggestions? 

Despite the expense, it’s worth hiring a car for each day of traveling around town. The public transport system (bus-auto-Metro) system is very well connected but can be confusing for outsiders. Taxis are quite unreliable. Visitors should carry change and be aware that very dirty or torn notes are commonly refused around town (despite being legal tender).

The city is still geographically small, so large parts of it can be covered comfortably by enthusiastic walkers. Indeed, the best way to enjoy Kolkata is on its roads. In general people are friendly and happy to oblige with directions and advice.

Are there any particular restaurants in Kolkata that you think kids will enjoy? Or, is there a good way to introduce them to Bangla food?

Oh! Calcutta, Kewpie’s, Bhojohori Manna, 6 Ballygunge Place and Sharey Chuattor (near Southern Avenue) are popular Bengali food restaurants. It would be wise to explain the food preferences of the children while placing the order (spice levels, vegetables, fish etc). The most fun way to introduce them to Bengali food though is probably via street food such as teley bhaja (deep fried vegetable batter fritters) chops, rolls and cutlets. Parents should stick to foods that are freshly fried in front of them, to be safe.

What about shopping areas in Kolkata?

For parents looking to shop, South City, Dakshinapan, City Centre (I and II), Swabhumi, Park Street/Free School Street and of course New Market can provide diversions for children.

Since Kolkata is known for being the “arts capital” of India, are there any such activities geared to kids that you could think of?

There are music concerts, plays, book launches and art exhibitions all through the year although they are more frequent in the winter months. These are mostly geared towards older children. Younger children will enjoy the events at Oxford Children’s Bookstore, Starmark outlets and Crossword.

The annual British Council School Drama Competition is an important event for young theatre enthusiasts. Nandan often features children’s films – a children’s film festival was held in the last week of December. Max Mueller Bhavan too has an annual children’s film festival.

The Indian Museum, although badly maintained, can be a fascinating experience for children of all ages, as can be the Nehru Children’s Museum, the Birla Planetarium and the Birla Industrial & Technological Museum. Alipore Zoo and the Horticultural Gardens are mixed bag experiences but younger children usually enjoy visits to both places.

That was indeed very helpful! Thanks Sue!

*Photo credit: amanderson (Used under a Creative Commons Attributions license)

Previous Interviews In The ‘Travel With Kids’ Series: 

Sunita from Pune

Anuradha from Mumbai

Artnavy from Bengaluru

Leonny from Singapore

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