What you will see in the guided tour

A mere village in the 17th century, Calcutta (Kolkata) thrived during the British Raj and became a leading centre for commerce and a port of call for east-bound ships. Calcutta today reveals the rich diversity of the Bengali artistic heritage. Patronised by wealthy and rich connoisseurs, Calcutta has become the social and cultural capital of India. Gateway to the orient, is where any journey to the East begins.

The Victoria Memorial is the greatest landmark of the city and one of the most solid reminders of the Raj to be found in India. This huge piece of architecture is a strange combination of classical European architecture with Mughal influence, and a resemblance can be seen between the Taj Mahal at Agra and St. Paul's Cathedral at London. The portraits, statues, paintings and other artefacts here tell the story of British Empire in India at its peak.

On the west bank of the Hooghly river are the extensive Botanical Gardens. This 273 acre park was set up in 1787 by Col Kyd of the East India Company. It has a variety of botanical specimens. The prime attraction of the park is a 200 year old Banyan tree, said to have the second largest canopy in the world.

You will end your tour with a visit to Missionary of Charity. Set up in 1953, it is here that Mother lived, prayed, worked, and guided her religious family of sisters spread across the world. It is here that her body was laid to rest.

Significance of each tomb in the guided city tour

Victoria Memorial

In January 1901, on the death of Queen Victoria, George Curzon, 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston and Viceroy of India, suggested the creation of a fitting memorial. He proposed the construction of a grand building with a museum and gardens. Curzon said,

"Let us, therefore, have a building, stately, spacious, monumental and grand, to which every newcomer in Calcutta will turn, to which all the resident population, European and Native, will flock, where all classes will learn the lessons of history, and see revived before their eyes the marvels of the past."

The Prince of Wales, later King George V, laid the foundation stone on 4 January 1906 and it was formally opened to the public in 1921. In 1912, before the construction of the Victoria Memorial was finished, King George V announced the transfer of the capital of India from Calcutta to New Delhi. Thus, the Victoria Memorial was built in what would be a provincial city rather than a capital.

Botanical Gardens

The gardens exhibit a wide variety of rare plants and a total collection of over 12,000 specimens spread over 109 hectares. It is under Botanical Survey of India (BSI) of Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India.

The gardens were founded in 1787 by Colonel Robert Kyd, an army officer of the British East India Company, primarily for the purpose of identifying new plants of commercial value, such as teak, and growing spices for trade.

The best-known landmark of the garden is The Great Banyan, an enormous banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis) that is reckoned to be the largest tree in the world, at more than 330 metres in circumference. It partially inspired the novel Hothouse by Brian Aldiss. The gardens are also famous for their enormous collections of orchids, bamboos, palms, and plants of the screw pine genus (Pandanus).

Animals seen inside the Botanic Garden include the Jackal (Canis aureus), Indian mongoose and the Indian Fox (Vulpes bengalensis). A large numbers of varieties snakes also found in the garden.

Mother Teresa’s charity

The Missionaries of Charity (Latin: Missionariarum a Caritate) is a Roman Catholic (Latin Church) religious congregation established in 1950 by Saint Teresa of Calcutta, better known as Mother Teresa. In 2012 it consisted of over 4,500 religious sisters.

Members of the order designate their affiliation using the order's initials, "M.C." A member of the congregation must adhere to the vows of chastity, poverty, obedience, and the fourth vow, to give "wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor." Today, the order consists of both contemplative and active branches in several countries.

On October 7, 1950, Mother Teresa and the small community formed by her former pupils was labeled as the Diocesan Congregation of the Calcutta Diocese, and thus received the permission from the Vatican to exist as a Church subject. Their mission was to care for (in Mother Teresa's words)

"the hungry, the naked, the homeless, the crippled, the blind, the lepers, all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared for throughout society, people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone."

It began as a small community with 12 members in Calcutta (now Kolkata), and today it has over 4,500 Sisters running orphanages, home for those dying of AIDS, charity centres worldwide, and caring for refugees, the blind, disabled, aged, alcoholics, the poor and homeless and victims of floods, epidemics and famine in Asia, Africa, Latin America, North America, Europe and Australia.

Google map of the tour

What is included in the tour

  • A private air-conditioned vehicle
  • Service of an English speaking guide on private basis
  • Complimentary mineral water

What is not included in the tour

  • Entrance fees
  • Camera fee
  • Tipping
  • Any other item not mentioned under ‘Inclusions’

Cost of the tour

"Prices are based on minimum 2 adults. If there is just one adult OR if there is one adult + 1 child, please select ‘2’ adults to complete the reservation. We will charge for a minimum of 2 adults. ".

Things to know about the guided tour

  • Booking should be made at least 2 days prior (excluding weekends)
  • For any entrance fee or camera fee, please pay directly (our guide will assist you in buying any entry tickets, if applicable)
  • After you book the experience a voucher will be generated and sent to your email ID. The voucher will have all the information – including contact details of the experience provider
  • A 'No Show' will result in No Refund.
  • You will be collected from within the city limits.
  • Duration of the trip is 4 hours (from pickup to drop off)
  • Best time to do this experience is between 9AM and 5PM

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