Unless you have been to Kolkata, you won’t feel its vibe. When people visit this city, they keep the quintessential image of Kolkata on their minds, but it offers a lot more than just busy streets, tramways, temples, bridges and a cacophony of deafening vehicle horns.
With the advent of new technologies and state of the art infrastructure, it is now at par with other metropolitan cities, when it comes to connectivity and other facilities, making it more tourist-friendly than it was ever before.
While people may not get the time to visit Esplanade or Park Street every time they have their ‘stop-over’ in Calcutta, they can surely visit the extraordinary satellite city which is less than eight km from Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport. Far away from the hustle and bustle of the city life, there exists a planned, satellite city called New Town.
Named as the ‘Smart Green City’, New Town, lying on the extreme north-eastern boundary of Kolkata, covers an area of 28 square kilometres.
Starting off with large apartment complexes, IT business parks, institutional plots, and a bunch of luxury hotels, it now houses a Mother’s Wax Museum, an Eco Tourism Park, several lounges and a couple of hangout spots.
The aim behind these feats of engineering was to bring about sustainable development for its residents.
Eco Park or the eco-tourism park is the first place where one should drop in. Sprawled over 480 acres of land with a 120-acre lake and a 7-acre island, it has acquired a character of its own. Not only does it provide a mesmerising view, but also casts light on the unique architectural combination of the ecosystem and an urban space for recreational purposes.
Eco Park, with a touch of Darjeeling, gives a misty hill station feeling to the visitors, wherein they can take the Himalayan Toy Train Ride amidst a tea garden.
For guests who would love to drink authentic Darjeeling tea, it has a Tea lounge where the best varieties of tea are available. It is constructed in such a way that visitors can enjoy a view of the tea garden while taking a sip from their cups.
It also has a set of other gardens such as Rose Garden, Tropical Tree Garden, mask garden, bamboo garden, Herbal Garden, Sculpture Garden, fruits garden, a meadow garden and an exquisite butterfly garden to save and nurture this endangered species.
Next, the light and sound show is one of the many activities that one gets to see while visiting Eco Park. Set in the Lake, images and videos are projected on the aqua curtain arising from the fountain.
With a set of 22 individual picturesque cottages called ‘Ekante Cottages’ and a series of speciality restaurants, this place has the potential to become a mini paradise. These cottages, which are luxurious and spacious, have private lakes facing balconies.
Eco Park has an amphitheatre and an open-air ground to host plays and performances and games like Eco cart, Floating Pontoon, Kayaking, Ice Skating, Rifle Shooting, Water Zorbing, Roller Skating, Water cycling, Paintball, E-Bike, Archery, Bull Ride, Eco cart, and Cycling among several others.
Boat rides around the lake are breathtaking, starting from cruises to Family Shikaras, one can also hop onto motor boats and paddle around. New Town is now the emblem of a progressive Kolkata and its dynamic role in the changing world.
Popularly known as the ‘Cultural Capital of India,’ each corner of the city radiates its rich cultural heritage and the essence of its deep-rooted ideologies.
Cultural and educational centres dedicated to two of the greatest poets - Kazi Nazrul Islam and Rabindranath Tagore have been set up. They display the beautiful works of Tagore and Nazrul Islam and digital archives have been devised for folks interested in knowing more about their profound contribution.
From time to time, various thematic events are conducted in the presence of dignitaries. These halls are not restricted to showing thematic movies or documentaries but display movies of different genres.
It does not end here. Another masterpiece, which is one of a kind in this country, is the Mother’s Wax Museum. With 20 life-size wax statues of celebrities, people who have excelled in various fields such as science, literature, sports and heroes of our nation - both in the past and the present, this museum deserves a visit.
With its breathtaking graffiti and decor, the Mother’s Wax Museum was an attempt by the state government to replicate the iconic wax museum of London.
Upon entering, one would be fascinated by the aura created with the wax model of Mahatma Gandhi.
Next, are the beautiful models of Sri Rama Krishna, Sarada Devi, and Mother Teresa, followed by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Kazi Nazrul Islam, B.R Ambedkar, Pranab Mukherjee and Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose. The set up of this world famous scientist is beyond description.
As one walks further inside, there are models of cricketers such as Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly, followed by statues of the great musical maestros such as Manna Dey, Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar.
The last section consists of wax models of great actors like Uttam Kumar, Suchitra Sen, Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan and Mithun Chakraborty. A museum dedicated to Bengal modern art is also popular.
Kolkata is a city which not only gives cognizance to artistic pursuits of millions but also acts a home to those in need. With offices of corporate giants like Tata Consultancy Services, Genpact, British Telecom and high-rise residential apartments, this place has something for everybody.
Besides these, luxurious hotel chains such as Novotel, Swissotel, Pipal Tree, Pride Plaza, and soon to open Westin are making it convenient for tourists to put Kolkata on their vacation list. There is no doubt that the successful execution of this planned city is based on honest initiative and sheer brilliance of human talent.
Considered as the ‘culinary heaven,’ Kolkata serves over a hundred kinds of cuisines. Keeping up with the name, New Town has several food joints and local pubs which serve mouth watering dishes and exotic cocktails.
New Town also satisfies the needs of all shopaholics as it houses big malls like City Centre II and Axis Mall. Many creative projects including the Monorail, a flyover from Science City to New Town, 15,000 seat indoor sports complex etc are on their way.
Mangaldeep, the lighthouse within a traffic island, Eco Urban Village, and a mela ground highlight the dynamic fusion of modern and conventional ideas. Hence, Kolkata (especially New Town), which thrives on the energy of the people and a bunch of fun activities, can now be regarded as a perfect holiday destination for visitors from India and abroad.