Referred to as 'the street that never sleeps', Park Street is lined with restaurants and pubs and is always buzzing with tourists and activity, much like La Rambla in Barcelona or the Champs-Elysees in Paris. Anyone familiar with the city has explored Park Street by night, and if you are about to Google 'what to do in Park Street during daytime', don't. Here are seven offbeat things you can do in Park Street that does not involve guzzling or grubbing.
Six Fun Things To Do In Park Street That Doesn't Involve Guzzling Or Grubbing
Lose Yourself In The World Of Books
Long before Amazon ruined the romance of book browsing, the independent bookshops on Park Street were flourishing. First on the list is The Family Book Shop, established In 1979 and run by the Burman family. This little bookstore will whisk you away into another world with its chequered floor, narrow staircase and old fashioned bookshelves. It is so atmospheric that I half expected Mr Mulpepper to peer down from a ladder somewhere. Next up is the iconic Oxford Bookstores. One of the oldest in the city, apart from the usual suspects (read: bestsellers) this one houses many memoirs of prominent British and Indian figures of the 20th century. Then there is the quirky cat-themed Bhingsha Shatabdi with an amazing collection of translated comics. If that's not enough, check out the pavement booksellers who stock everything from the current bestsellers to forgotten classics. The best part is you can bargain for the price you want to pay. For a range of books that you won't find anywhere else go to Earthcare Books.
Delve Into The History Of The Park Street Cemetery
Smack in the heart of the city, right at the end of Park Street, South Park Cemetery is walled off from the bustle and chaos outside. Inside it is a quiet and leafy 8-acre haven, that is home to a number of graves of Britishers from 1767 to 1790. It is now a heritage site protected by the ASI. Whether you are a history buff or generally want to spend your day taking a trip down memory lane, this place has loads to offer. One of the largest of its kind in Asia, this is the resting place of a lot of notable personalities (like HLV Derozio). You will get to see some dramatic and beautiful tombs, cenotaphs and mausoleums. The dead really do tell tales, if you care to listen in.
Take A Nostalgic Trip To Giggles
As one of Calcutta’s older standalone gift shops Giggles has been serving up smiles for over 30 years. I used to frequent it as a child and remember the sense of wonder as I wandered the aisles discovering toys and wanting to buy everything in sight. Now it's a little store restricted to the mezzanine floor that is lined every inch with fun and quirky things. The place may be small, but the charm is still not lost. Brimming with 90’s nostalgia, you’ll find a wide array or greeting cards for any occasion you can think of. The rest of the shelves hold curios, mugs, party decor, board games, glitter tea lights and other kitsch. My personal favourites were the retro alarm clocks and superhero themed hipflasks.
Awaken The Inner Child At India's Hobby Centre
India's Hobby Centre, founded in 1954 used to stock a unique collection of toys that delighted adults and kids alike. The last remaining branch in the country, sadly this is no longer what it was and is now just a few shelves of games. However, they have an amazing collection of rare old stamps and coins that the caretaker Satyanarayan Misra is happy to pull out for interested persons. Philatelists or those of you with a keen interest in aeromodelling or vintage cars will love this place. They even have the most interesting collection of miniatures. I even spotted a Donald Trump bobble head with one of the funniest expressions I have seen on him so far!
Shop For Vintage-y And Handcrafted Decor
Victor Brothers is one of the old auction houses of Kolkata that sits not-so-pretty on Park Street wearing a thick jacket of dust but housing treasures that befit the likes of royalty. If you are someone who appreciates the old-world charm and the antiquity of design, then this place is no less than a paradise for you. Pick up some rare vintage collectibles to deck up your house or simply to invest in. Think Ming vases, Victorian tea sets, majestic gramophones, brownie cameras, grandfather clocks, vintage chandeliers and antique furniture. Step out of the colonial era step into the land of rural artisans at Biswa Bangla Hut. Pick up some handcrafted decor, from Bishnupur's dokra craft to Bankura's terracotta figures to Madhurkati jute mats.