From a quiet, tree-lined residential neighbourhood, Hindustan Park, near the buzzy Gariahat shopping district, has today become a trendy upmarket zone, with boutiques focusing on handwoven fabrics, fascinating sari emporiums and serious coffee shops. These are five places to visit.
1. Art Rickshaw
This art school and gallery offers various classes in art, photography, drama and music. It also organises the annual Kolkata Arts Lane Festival (12 Jan this year), a showcase of work by professional and amateur artists. The event also includes poetry reading and storytelling sessions. If yours is a short visit, look out for its roster of workshops. Some are just two hours, so you can easily pick up a new art style or craft.
Sitting on the ground floor of an old bungalow that dates back to 1926, this chic café opened in June 2019. With chequerboard floors for outdoor seating as well as ikat (a pattern-dyeing technique) curtains and silk lamps indoors, the ambience is laced with nostalgia. Be spoiled for choice with their wide variety of speciality coffee – cinnamon mocha and the cold brew are crowd favourites.
This handicraft shop stocks natural-dye scarves, dresses in batik prints and magnets – all with distinctive motifs inspired by the state of West Bengal, such as the zamindari homes, Ambassador taxis and dal fritters. Handloom saris from the state’s different districts, Bishnupuri silks, terracotta artefacts and Darjeeling tea are some of the other things you should pick up here.
Opened in early 2019, this vintage-style bed-and-breakfast offers just nine rooms, each replete with a striking four-poster bed. Drawing its inspiration from Kolkata’s storied past, the boutique stay features colourful glass windows, chandeliers and an old Ambassador car converted into the reception desk. The friendly staff can also help organise walking trips to Darjeeling district, including to Tiger Hill, the Balason River and Mirik town.
This establishment, run by a mother and daughter duo, stocks an eclectic collection of dresses in flowing silhouettes, textiles from weavers in West Bengal and handcrafted pottery from Shantiniketan, a town about 165km from Kolkata. Behind it is a café and working space, which has become popular on social media because of its quaint blue-tiled tables and seating made from old paint cans. The menu includes a decent selection of pasta, salads and sandwiches. The dark chocolate and orange cake is a standout.