Hood Guide: What To See, Where To Shop, And What To Eat At Esplanade In Kolkata

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From nostalgia-filled bars and trams to the largest sports goods market in India, Esplanade has a lot to offer.

Tram Rides

Did you know Kolkata has the oldest operating electric tram in Asia? It’s been running since 1902. Esplanade is a central tram depot. Hop on one – we recommend the one that takes you to north Kolkata traversing the streets with gorgeous old houses and buildings. Or take a tram that will go through the green Maidan. You can also enjoy a meal on an AC tram stationed at the depot.

A Cloud-Kissing Monument

Check out Shahid Minar (formerly known as the Ochterlony Monument), the 158-foot high structure which was constructed in 1828 as a tribute to Major-General Sir David Ochterlony, commander of the British East India Company. The structure is a blend of different architectural styles – the rounded dome is Turkish influenced, the column was inspired by those in Syria and the foundation is Egyptian.You could climb all the 223 steps of the spiral staircase that leads to the top to enjoy panoramic view of the city. 

Sports Goods At Maidan Market

People who frequent the Maidan market say it is probably the largest sports goods bazaar in Asia. It began life as a market sometime in 1950 for cloth merchants who migrated from across the border following the partition of Bengal. Today it houses a huge number of shops (wholesalers and retailers) selling all kinds of sports items – from cricket bats, gloves, wrist supports, footballs and football shoes and jerseys, hockey sticks, sunblock creams for athletes, etc. Walk through (or barely squeeze through) the seriously narrow serpentine alleys to see the jaw-dropping array of goods. You can bring a simple t-shirt and have it converted into a jersey of your fave football or cricket team.

Shop Till You Drop

The pavements opposite the Maidan market are lined with stalls selling junk jewellery, books, leather goods, remakes of the latest and in-trend shirts, eyewear, watches and cargo pants. You can pick up an entire outfit with accessories for under INR 1,000 here. Also check out Foreign Publishers Agency, one-of-a-kind bookstore on the footpath near Grand Hotel. If you know what you’re looking for, you’ll find some great books on sociology, film studies, literary criticism and many other technical subjects. For all of you college students struggling to find those last minute notes or struggling to make sense of course work, this store might be worth a visit.

Tipu Sultan Mosque

The green, multi-domed Tipu Sultan Shahi Mosque (also known as Tipu Sultan Masjid) located close to the Shahid Minar at 185 Dhartamtalla Street was built in 1832 by Prince Ghulam Mohammed, the youngest son of Tipu Sultan. The mosque’s beautiful architecture is noteworthy with archways and shelves of Quran inside.

Check Out The Bourne & Shepherd Building

The four-storied Gothic structure that stands next to the  Metropolitan studio building on SN Banerjee Road used to house one of oldest photo studios in the world – Bourne & Shepherd. The building was called ‘Photographe’ but sadly the studio was shut down in 2016. It was established in 1840 by the famous Calcutta photographer William Howard from Britain and was named Bourne & Shepherd in 1866 when the British photographer and traveler duo – Samuel Bourne and Charles Shepherd – took control of the business. It was the most successful commercial firm in 19th- and early 20th-century India, with agencies all over India and outlets in London and Paris. Some of its photographs hang from the Smithsonian Institution, National Gallery of Portraits in London, the Cambridge University library.

Have A Drink And Snacks

Settle down for a drink after all your exertions at the wonderfully nostalgic New Cathay And Bar. This restaurant is located close to Grand Hotel in Esplanade inside a beautiful old building with high ceilings and beautiful checked tiles. Or try Haju’s Darbar and Alishaan for a taste of Kolkata mughlai cuisine.

Pick Up Roshogollas at KC Das

Tourists to Kolkata always pick up red cans of the famous KC Das roshogolla. Though the taste of the canned sweets are debatable, the outlet near Esplanade has fresh ones. And a menu that serves up excellent luchi alur dom, peas kochuri (when in season) rosomalai and mango lassi.