Finally, after crossing the hurdles of NIMNOCHAAP, untimely rain and humidity, WINTER has finally arrived in Calcutta. And with the winter in Calcutta has come the unbridled joy of being able to roam around without sweat soaking through your clothes or eat tons of street food without worrying about how it would make you feel later!
But, while everyone’s out partying in winters, you seldom get solid information about quirky things you could do with your family. So we looked around and compiled this list of 12 things that you would love to take your family to and have the proverbial happy day in the Sun this winter (with a KOMLA LEBU on the side !)
1.A winter morning at the MAIDAN
You have seen those lovely photographs of a mist shrouded Maidan with a horse grazing alone. But it’s time you saw it for yourself. Get up at 6 (it’s tough but it’s rewarding), pack the family up and plonk them in the middle of Maidan. Find a spot under a tree (try the area right opposite Park Street metro, let the kids be free and just enjoy the wide open vista and the many football & cricket games in progress.
2. An evening on the river
Here’s a link for you if you love riding a slow cruise on the Hooghly. This river cruise starts from Babughat at 4:00 P.M. (so your wintery BHAAT GHUM doesn’t need to suffer) and lasts for 3 hours. It takes you across the entire Calcutta riverfront and then approaches Belur & Dakshineshwar. Pro tip – They serve food on the boat so don’t worry about carrying the CHANACHUR!
3. The far flung ECO PARK
Not unique enough? But have you been there? Am betting top dollar that most Calcuttans who do not work nearby, have not made much of an effort to go check out the Eco Park at New Town (BODDO DUR?!). But it’s a shame if you haven’t. The entire place is really well done and an early evening here is a lovely time spent with the family. Try Cafe Ekante while you are here – it’s serene, has a vie to kill for and the food is awesome! Pro tip – If you have a big family (15+ members) try having lunch on a platform that floats on the water. Call this number to book – : 083340 65345.
4. Take that walking trip
Heard of Calcutta Walks yet? If you haven’t, here’s their contact. These guys are arguably the best ambassadors of Calcutta and they positively are the best guides around. Book a walking/cycling trip with them and see the city in it’s true glory and the streets jangle with untold stories. Pro tip – Iftekhar Ahsan is the man behind this great group of people. Try to get him as your companion and it’s going to be superb!
5. Start your own Calcutta food trail
Had that breakfast at Tiretti yet? Tasted the perfect pantheras in Calcutta? Had an authentic Spanish Sunday lunch in the bylanes of Sudder street? How about the legendary Sutli kebab near Nakhoda Masjid? Come on you! Winters are the best time in Calcutta to eat like there’s no tomorrow. And these quirky eateries are God’s own gift to the PETUK Bong! Surprise the spouse with a foodie trip one of these winter days. Pro Tip – Start in the North and finish near the Southern fringe. Ask us for more details or if you want us to come along and treat us!
6. Go Church-Hopping
It’s Christmas real soon! And you are in a city that was once called the City of a 1000 Churches. Once upon a time, the city skyline was dotted with tall Church spires rising high towards heaven. And they are still there – these gloriously old, silent reminders of Anglican parishioners with their quiet solitudes and big organs! Go visit the lovely churches in Calcutta’s old lanes and live a slice of history! Maybe even join the Christmas mass and carol at St Paul’s (be there by early evening if you hope to get a seat on the pews) Pro Tip – Here’s an awesome post by the inimitable Rangan Datta with details of some of these churches.
7. Join a marathon together
Yep. You heard that right. Move that lazy tushy, book your family bulk marathon tickets and join one of the many marathons we will have this winter in Kolkata. The first one was on the 16th morning. Believe you us, it’s really fun and supremely inspiring to participate in this event as a family. To stand shoulder to shoulder with your family at the finishing line and grin through the sweat and aching muscles is probably the best form of bonding ever.
8. Go to the Circus and be a kid again
Too common again? But come on, when was the last time you did go to a real circus? Remember how you badly wanted to sit in the first row as a kid? Go do that now! There are at least 2-3 circuses every winter in Calcutta (one for sure at Park Circus maidan and the other at Tala Park). Find out a good show time and take the entire family to marvel at the flying trapeze artists – some things never get old!
9. Ignore the zoo and go to National Library & the Agri-Horticulture society
Don’t go the zoo please – it’s crowded and the animals need a break from all the howling humans. Go down straight from the Alipore Zoo gates and walk into the hallowed halls of the country’s largest public library – the National Library. It’s steeped in history and often makes the list of the most haunted places in the country (we call bulls*#&t on that!). But if you are the least bit interested in reading, this is a pilgrimage that most miss but is worth it’s weight in gold. Also the Agri-Horticulture society is right behind here. With the winters coming in, this place will be swarming with beautiful flowers and potted plants and bonsais and whatnot. Pro Tip – You have classes going on that you quickly join to pick up on gardening skills. Call these numbers to find out more – 9133- 2479 1713 / 0834.
10. Bake that damn cake
Yes please. For how long have you planned to bake your own fruit/chocolate/marble/dundee cake? Get together with the family, go buy the ingredients from New Market, dust off the oven, get your hands dirty and pile up the vanilla! See how everyone gets frenzied with the expectation of the smell of a freshly baked cake. This is what the spirits of the season are all about!
11. Start a barbecue in your backyard or on the roof
It’s cheaper & easier than you think. Amazon sells entire barbecue sets for as cheap as INR 950/- . The charcoal is easily available at the nearby markets. And the meat and marination is no big deal. But the end result of sitting around a bright red barbecue with sizzling leg pieces or wing (and maybe that glass of some golden elixir!) with your family is how you share stories and fall off your chair guffawing at some long forgotten embarrassment. Pro TIp – Buy an electric barbecue set to avoid the hassle of buying and cleaning charcoals.
12. Don’t miss the crowded melas & book fair
They are crowded. They are messy. But they are very much Calcutta. Load up your pockets and head off to the mela near you. If you have time enough, you can strike gold in some of the stores selling handicrafts. If nothing else, you can get contacts of these artisans to later use their talents for home decor. And let’s not forget the BOOK FAIR – it’s back soon and hope your reading list is ready. France is the country of focus in 2018. Don’t miss this for anything! Pro tip – stop buying books from now and wait patiently for the book fair, all major publications come up with mega discounts on the last few days of the fair.
So there you go – your family should be tired and satiated by the time you traverse this winter.
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