Take part in a night-long celebration in one of the biggest Indian festivals, go tiger spotting in the world’s largest mangrove swamp, spend a day at the race course. October’s great time to travel to Kolkata.
This is the most important event in Kolkata’s festival calendar. It celebrates Mother goddess Durga. Life comes to a standstill in the city for four days. The atmosphere is like a carnival with all-night crowds, live music sessions, open-air theatre, literary fairs, poetry readings, and lots of food.
Elaborate structures called pandals are constructed all over Kolkata and the idol of the goddess is kept inside these. Go pandal hopping and check out the different styles of Durga idols.
Eid ul Zuha (Bakri Eid)
Celebrate Eid ul Zuha which falls in October with delicious haleem (meat cooked with lentils) at New Aliya restaurant in central Kolkata or with biryani from Arsalan, located at the Park Circus crossing.
Enjoy a city walk
The mild October weather is conducive to long walks around Kolkata. A good place to hang out is Park Street. You can spend the whole day here. Start with the old auction houses that sell old curios. Browse the books at Oxford Book Store. Have cakes and tea at the famous Flury’s cafe. Pick up delicately embroidered bed linen at Good Companions on adjacent Russell Street.
Play some games
Good weather also means Kolkata’s ardent street chess and carrom players will begin coming out of the woodwork. Join in and play a game by the roadside, with strangers. Head to Gariahat flyover after sunset for a game of chess.
Mangroves and tigers
Take a trip to the Sundarbans mangrove, home of a number of endangered species including the Royal Bengal Tiger. The mangroves are open to visitors from October, after the monsoon is truly over.
The creeks are home to the estuarine crocodile, salvator lizard, water monitor, dolphin and a host of birds like kingfishers, herons, egrets, sandpipers, whimbrels and plover. Foreign nationals have to get a permit in Kolkata from the Wildlife Department or the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation (WBTDC) office.There are a number of cruise options for sightseeing on the mangroves.
Homestays offer the perfect opportunity to get a local insight and your host family will be happy to provide guidance on the best way to experience the celebrations. Check out our Indian homestay collection.