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About Kolkata

Kolkata is, with its population of 5 million, the capital of West Bengal, and the cultural and economic hub of East India. Boasting a 350-year-old history lovingly preserved in beautiful temples, quaint colonial architecture, and India’s largest and oldest museum, alongside a bustling community alive with arts and culture, the Kolkata experience is nothing short of unforgettable.

And for a limited time, cheap flights to Kolkata are now available; seize your chance to visit this East Indian hub today! Kolkata is home to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport (CCU), located just over a half-hour’s drive from the city, and serving a number of international airlines, including Jet Airways and Emirates. Transport options for the newly arrived traveller include a wide array of taxis, a series of air-conditioned Volvo busses, and, of course, a selection of car rental companies.

Why visit Kolkata

kolkata architecture

Architecturally International

Classic European architecture stands alongside gorgeous traditional temples, a testament to the city’s colonial history and international influences.

kolkata food

Bengali Flavour

The culinary experience is remarkable anywhere in India; but there’s no better place than Kolkata to sample the singular flavours of Bengali recipes.

kolkata markets

Shopper's Paradise

Boasting everything from horses to handicrafts and saris to electronics, Kolkata’s malls and markets make it a bona fide shopper’s paradise.

General information

Essential details you need to know before your trip

Country India
Currency Rupee
Exchange Rate 1 ZAR = 5.15 INR
Language Hindi
Hub Airport Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport
Airline Air India
Time Zone GMT +5.30
Travel Adaptor Type C, D, M

Best time to visit Kolkata

Like most of India, Kolkata boasts warm, humid temperatures, and is annually visited by the nation’s famous monsoon season. As a result, the winter months of October to March, which boast the lowest rainfall and the most reasoned temperatures (generally ranging from the teens to the upper 20s), are generally the most popular with visitors. They’re the best time to come if you’re looking to spend some time outdoors, but be prepared to deal with heavy crowds and higher hotel rates. By contrast, the months of June to September are marked by the famed monsoon season, and are often deluged with rain; as a result, they generally see the lowest influx of visitors. They’re the best months to come by to avoid the hubbub and get some cheaper accommodation deals; but you’d better not forget that raincoat.

Weather & Climate in Kolkata

Average temperature (°C) & rainfall (mm) per month

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Low °C 13°C 15°C 21°C 24°C 25°C 26°C 26°C 26°C 26°C 24°C 18°C 13°C
High °C 27°C 29°C 34°C 36°C 36°C 33°C 32°C 32°C 32°C 32°C 29°C 26°C
Rainfall (mm) 10 31 36 43 140 297 325 328 252 114 20 5

Overview

Kolkata; or Calcutta, or the City of Joy, or the Gateway of Eastern India – whatever you may call it, the capital of West Bengal is the cultural and economic hub of the eastern portion of a culturally and economically vibrant nation. Wander the buzzing streets, admiring the gorgeous temples and the colonial buildings, which stand in testament to the city’s distinctive blend of Indian and English influences; immerse yourself in the city’s centuries of fascinating history at the biggest museum in India; sample the distinctive deliciousness of Bengali cuisine; or simply take an unwinding walk along the riverside promenade, or through the city’s lush gardens. It’s a city of distinctly Indian wonder, and every nook and cranny is worth exploring.

Visa & Customs

India is one of two countries for which South Africans may obtain a visa via Electronic Travel Authority. Those wishing to visit the country as a tourist may visit the official VFS Global website, where they may inform themselves about what is needed for a visa application to India, and download an application form that they may fill in at their leisure. From there, applicants may bring all the necessary documents to one of the application centres in Johannesburg, Cape Town or Durban, from which they may subsequently collect all of their documents once the application has been processed.

The South African High Commission in India is located at the following address:

B18 Vasant Marg Vasant Vihar New Delhi 110 057 Tel: + 91 11 2 614 9411

Health & Safety

As with most locations, the Centres for Disease Control recommends that travellers to India ensure that they are up to date with all of their routine vaccinations, and that, in addition, they receive immunisations against Hepatitis A and typhoid, both of which have a chance of being spread through contaiminated food and water. In addition, mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria and zika are known to exist in India; and while Kolkata, thankfully, is located in a low-risk area, visitors are nonetheless advised to ensure that they take steps against mosquito bites.

While Kolkata is generally considered one of India’s safer cities, petty crime is, as anywhere, an inescapable issue, and visitors should practice common safety precautions, ensuring that they keep their valuables with them at all times and do not wander the streets too late at night.

Cost of Living

ITEM CAPE TOWN JOHANNESBURG KOLKATA
Meal, inexpensive restaurant R100.00 R105.00 R38.96
Domestic beer (0.5 litre draught) R25.00 R25.00 R15.58
Cappuccino (regular) R22.46 R22.34 R18.16
Taxi 1km (normal tariff) R10.00 R10.00 R2.63
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro) R38.00 R38.00 R28.24

Where to stay?

Being such a vast and internationally visited city, Kolkata naturally boasts a wide selection of hotels of varying levels of affordability and luxury. Prices range everywhere from under ₹700 to over ₹9500, with The Oberoi, Taj Bengal and Swissotel being among the city’s most well-regarded establishments.

Get Around

Kolkata is a vast city; and thus, naturally, boasts a broad variety of transport options – many of which tie into the city’s fascinating history. Most notably, the city boasts both the first metro railway and the only tram system in India; the former is often hailed as the most efficient form of transport in the city, while the latter, though slower, is praised as affordable, comfortable, and environmentally friendly. Taxis, too, are ubiquitous in the city, and can be hailed from almost any street corner at any time of day – and, thankfully, most are known to adhere to their metres. And, of course, it wouldn’t be India without the rickshaws, both varieties of which – motorised and human-drawn – can be located all over the city, particularly in the market regions.

Main attractions in Kolkata

Victoria Memorial

Victoria Memorial

Howrah Bridge

Howrah Bridge

Belur Math

Belur Math

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