Kolkata is a colorful megacity rich in culture, architecture and of course food, but the best part of traveling the “City of Joy” is the sheer unpredictability! You never know what you’ll stumble upon around on the next street corner of what used to be India''s capital.

Although this variety keeps locals and expats entertained, for travelers with only a short time in Kolkata it is important to make the most of it. Make your trip a little more offbeat and memorable by mixing a few of these unique Kolkata attractions into your itinerary:

Can I Have Some Science, Please?

Combine every single museum, planetarium, aquarium, garden, scientific exhibition and technological showcase that you’ve ever experienced into one grand event. This is Science City, one of the world’s largest establishments of its kind. Think of it like those old famous Worlds Fairs of the 1800s only never-ending.

Science City has a continually changing line-up of exhibits, events, activities, seminars and interesting attractions that both inspire and educate. Perfect for the entire family but be warned: you may end up getting sucked in and spending longer here than planned.

Would You Like Some Books With That?

Famous for its overwhelming assortment of bookstores specializing in everything from new to old to rare, College Street is often referred to as the most intellectual neighborhood in the entire megacity of Kolkata. Avid readers will easily be able to occupy an entire day here, but even if books are not your thing, College Street is still an enjoyable experience.

College Street in Kolkata is one of the unique and offbeat things to do in India

Given this, it should be no surprise that one of the most popular literature gatherings in the entire world is the annual Kolkata Book Fair. Although it only began 40 years ago, now more than 2.5 million people attend every January.

And a 250 Year Old Tree to Go...I Mean Grow

Modern life can be a bit busy. Sometimes you just need to find a relaxing place to escape and be surrounded by nature. Thankfully right across the river just west of Fort William is Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Indian Botanic Garden, home to one of the world’s largest trees (in terms of area, not height).

From a distance The Great Banyan looks more like a small forest than a single tree. Up close it is possible to get lost within the Banyan's vertical hanging roots. Before they put up the fence people used to wander into the tree and never return -- think of it like a hedge maze in the Bermuda Triangle.

Kolkata's banyan tree is not the world's largest, but the second largest -- another one of the unique and offbeat things to do in India

Covering nearly 19,000m² and around 250 years old, The Great Banyan is only 200m² smaller than the world’s largest tree, Thimmamma Marrimanu -- coincidentally also located in India -- but believed to be less than half of its age. Years ago a road was built around the circumference of the tree, allowing visitors an easily accessible 360° view, but The Great Banyan continues to grow and expand beyond it.

Same Same, But Dwindling...

As a long-term traveler, you get used to visiting a Chinatown in not just every country but every big city. Same same, but different -- like always. Except in India. Kolkata is home to the one and only Chinatown in this entire country, Tiretta Bazaar.

The unquestionable home of the most delicious and authentic Chinese food in not just Kolkata but all of India, every Tiretta Bazaar trip is primarily a culinary experience served with side dishes of sightseeing, shopping and Mahjong. This is no task to be taken lightly, though. If you wish to survive Tiretta Bazaar and be able to walk away i>n your own two legs, it is best to bring a few friends to help eat your way through everything that smells and/or looks delicious. (Warning: there will be a lot!)

The only Chinatown in all of India is located in Kolkata -- another one of the unique and offbeat things to do in India

Nowadays Tiretta Bazaar is only a fraction of its former size, but if anything that should only be a further encouragement to visit. Help support a minority population struggling to preserve their heritage.

Balance Comfort With Convenience

No one ever said that navigating the streets of Kolkata was easy, not even a hundred years ago. The best solution is to stay at a proper hotel with both a convenient location and helpful transportation options, such as Park Hotel Kolkata.

Eden Gardens, Fort William, and St. Paul’s Cathedral are all part of Maidan, the largest urban park in West Bengal, and just a few hundred metres west of Park Hotel Kolkata.

The more time that people spend in Kolkata, the more hidden hotspots and unique destinations that they inevitability discover.

  What are some of your favorites?

  paulhami tsai

Published in India

Formerly known as Southern Rhodesia, Zimbabwe is renowned as one of Africa’s most beautiful countries. Sadly it has been neglected by tourists for many years, since the introduction of President Mugabe’s Land Reform programme in 2000. The country’s tourism industry and economy suffered terribly as a result but lately the country is staging a comeback.

As a tourist destination Zimbabwe boasts many great reasons to pay a visit, whether it’s to experience one of the world’s best climates, the diverse wildlife and scenery or to delve into the country’s ancient history, Zimbabwe has a lot to give. To discover more about what the country has to offer we have created a list of the most interesting and beautiful places in Zimbabwe:

Victoria Falls

One of Zimbabwe’s most famous features is the thundering Victoria Falls; the largest curtain of falling water on the planet. With so much to do in the surrounding area you’ll be hard pressed to find yourself bored. Bungee jump from the Victoria Falls Bridge or get an even closer look at the raging Zambezi River with a spot of white water rafting; tackling the grade 5 rapids. For easier pursuits there are microlight and helicopter rides high above the spray or, if you are staying nearby during a full moon, watch out for a moonbow: a rainbow at night. You could also hop across to the Zambian side of the Falls and experience the Devil’s Pool. The pool is naturally formed and sits at the very edge of the Falls allowing you to look down into the smoky abyss below.

The Great Zimbabwe ruins

This UNESCO World Heritage Site is marked by history. Zimbabwe is littered with numerous ruins of ancient civilisations, however, those known as The Great Zimbabwe Ruins are the most prominent among them. Built in a unique and distinctive dry stone style these ruins were once the royal palace for the monarchs of the day and would have been home to around 18,000 people. The city flourished for over 300 years thanks to trade with those sailing down the Mozambique coast. The high stone walls are perhaps the ruins’ most distinctive feature, stretching over 5 metres high. The ruins can be found in Masvingo with a nearby museum displaying recovered artefacts.

Mana Pools National Park

Experience wildlife like never before and find yourself up close to elephants, hippos and crocodiles as well as a range of other animals. The word ‘Mana’ means four in Shona and is used in the Park’s title to allude to the four main pools found along this stretch of the Zambezi River: Main, Chine, Long and Chisambuk. They are remnants of channels that stopped flowing long ago. You can explore these water ways on the Mana Canoe Trail. Glide downriver and drink in a mixture of floodplains, grassland and the mountains of the Rift Valley as well as Africa’s largest population of hippo.

Bushman paintings at Bambata Cave in the Matobo Hills
Bushman paintings at Bambata Cave in the Matobo Hills

The Matobo Hills

The Matobo Hills are a great place for those wishing to combine a love of nature and history. The fascinating granite rock formations found here have been formed over millions of years and range from balancing rock formations to spires to domes. Also found in the area is the highest concentration of rock art found in Southern Africa and dates back as far as 13,000 years. If you’re interested in uncovering the day to day in the lives of these ancient people, a picture speaks a thousand words and the paintings allow you access to a world now long since passed.

Hwange National Park

To discover the best wildlife viewing Zimbabwe has to offer Hwange National Park delivers the goods. It is the country’s largest national park and possesses 100’s of different mammal species and almost 400 species of bird, including the southern carmine bee-eater in the summer months and the Kori Bustard. The park is also home to an incredibly strong elephant and buffalo population, with huge herds roaming across the Kalahari sandveld that comprises the majority of the park. The diverse abundance of wildlife is reflected in the varied scenery with grasslands, saltpans and mopane woodlands adding to the overall beauty of the park.

Packed to the brim with so much to explore, Zimbabwe lays waiting to be discovered. To learn more about the country and how to make a trip a reality, check out Mahlatini Luxury Travel for details or follow them on Twitter for more Africa travel information.

Published in Zimbabwe

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