In the morning, you will begin your tour in North Kolkata, which is the oldest part of the city. This portion of the city has a parallel culture heavily influenced by the Europeans that flourished among the pioneering families of Bengal. You will see the Jain Temple Complex with its four ornate temples. It is unique with all of its shimmering mirrors, ceramic tiles and chandeliers brought to India by the rich merchants from as far away as Persia, Japan and Europe.
The Marble Palace is perhaps the most bizarre of the Bengali mansions in this area. Built in 1835 by the Raja Rajendra Mullick, a wealthy Bengali merchant with a passion for collecting works of art, it houses a kitsch collection of paintings, marble sculptures and Belgian glass. In the grounds of the mansion you will find remnants of the first Indian zoo: exotic Indian birds including peacocks, hornbills, pelicans, as well as several species of deer.
From the extravagance of the Marble Palace, you will proceed to the calm, intellectual heart of the Bengali Quarter, the bastion of Bengali culture, and home of the multi-talented poet, novelist, musician, painter and playwright, the famous Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. His grandfather Dwarkanath Tagore built this grand mansion in the 18th century, and the museum showcases the life of the family in the 19th Century Bengal, and their involvement in the Bengali Renaissance.
Enjoy lunch at a Bengali restaurant situated in the historic Star Theatre, where Bengali theater has its roots, along with much of the drama that initiated the freedom movement in Bengal, and later the rest of India.
In the afternoon, you will visit Kumartuli, or the Potters’ Market, where giant lifelike religious idols are created for the city’s numerous festivals out of river clay, bamboo and straw, adorned with elaborate jewelry and clothes and beautifully painted features.
On the way back, visit the Motherhouse, Mother Theresa’s home and the center of her Missionaries of Charity. Her modest tomb and the spartan room where she lived and died embodies her life’s work, with simplicity and dedication to only helping the poor and needy.
Enjoy a refreshing cup of tea at Flury’s Tea Room, an old Calcutta institution on Park Street where all the culinary action of the city resides, close to the Oxford Bookshop where you can browse through a lovely collection of books on Calcutta and the rest of India.
At the end of your tour, you will be brought back to your hotel.