Lake In The City Kolkata (iStockphoto)

Victoria Memorial, Kolkata - India (iStockphoto)

Luxury Hotel Kolkata (iStockphoto)

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What to do in Kolkata (Calcutta)

For most people, Kolkata is synonymous with the saintly image of Mother Teresa and her nearly 50 years of work as a missionary to the poor. That perception of Kolkata makes it all the more surprising to arrive and discover a culturally rich city of Victorian mansions, stone-paved sidewalks, and a sprawling esplanade near the river Ganges. Kolkata was established as the trading post for the East India Company and was once the seat of the British Raj, a European influence that is still prevalent. Stroll past the Neo-Renaissance Writers’ Building, built by the British in the 1800s as an attempt to replicate imperial London. And across town, along Kolkata’s famed “cabaret row” on Park Street, restaurants serve classic Continental fare in red banquettes, beneath red silk lampshades—a glamorous world away from Kolkata’s reputation.

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