Drinking & Partying
Kolkata is officially dry on Thursday, but this doesn't affect the upscale hotels. Local laws supposedly prohibit the sale of alcohol after 10:30pm, so if you're up for an all-nighter, be sure to ask the exact time for last rounds at any bar you visit. In the budget-oriented Sudder Street precinct, the open-air bar at the Fairlawn Hotel (13/A Sudder St.; tel. 033/2252-1510) is an atmospheric place for sundowners and early-evening drinks. The Park (tel. 033/2249-9000; www.theparkhotels.com) is the place to hang out after hours -- Someplace Else rocks all night long with live bands belting out alternative rock, salsa, blues and jazz every night of the week. Together with vibrantly hued Tantra (strictly for couples and room guests; Rs 500 on weekends per couple), which has the largest dance floor in the city, it attracts the city's hippest crowd. The '60s-styled and -themed cocktail bar Roxie's (entry is free if staying at The Park hotel or on recommendation by an existing guest) is worth trying to get an invite to, if not for the decor (rough and classy with exposed red bricks), then definitely for the music that darts between the '50s, '60s, and '70s, enjoyed best with what the bar prides itself on -- "mood cocktails." If this wasn't already enough, The Park also has Aqua, a poolside alfresco lounge. Wooden loungers and deck beds, suspended timber deck, hot tub, and cool pool -- Aqua has it all. Known earlier as Cinnamon, the Marrakesh Lounge (24 Park St.; tel. 033/2227-4974) and Virgose, at the Hotel Hindustan International (235/1ACJ Bose Rd.; tel. 033/2283-0505; www.hhihotels.com), are also popular, especially with those who want to stray far from the bustling crowds that throng in and around The Park.
Theater, music, dance, and poetry recitals all thrive here. Check out the listings in the "Bulletin Board" section of The Times of India. Upscale hotels also carry the useful monthly booklets City Info and Cal Calling. Rabindra Sadan concert hall (A.J.C. Bose Rd. and Cathedral Rd.; tel. 033/2223-9936 or -9917) hosts regular theater and musical events, as well as dance-drama performances and local-flavored Bengali poetry evenings. Cultural events also take place at the Academy of Fine Arts (2 Cathedral Rd.; tel. 033/2223-4302). The British Council (5 Shakespeare Sarani; tel. 033/2242-5478; www.britishcouncil.org) often offers plays and performances in English. Bengali and English dramas are performed at Kala Mandir (48 Shakespeare Sarani; tel. 033/2287-9086). For musical programs, contact Sisir Mancha (1/1 A.J.C. Bose Rd.; tel. 033/2223-5317). Indo-German productions are occasionally held at Max Mueller Bhavan (8 Pramathesh Barua Sarani; tel. 033/2486-6398; www.goethe.de).
Cinema, Galleries & Exhibitions
Considered the art capital of India, Kolkata hosts a huge number of art exhibitions. Scan the newspapers for information about what's on while you're in town. Or check out the Birla Academy of Art and Culture (108-109 Southern Ave.; tel. 033/2466-6802; www.birlaart.com) or the Centre for International Modern Art (Sunny Towers, 43 Ashutosh Chowdhari Ave.; tel. 033/2485-8717; www.cimaartindia.com; Tues-Sat 11am-7pm, Mon 3-7pm, closed Sun). The Academy of Fine Arts (2 Cathedral Rd.; tel. 033/2223-4302) has art galleries (daily 3-8pm) and a museum (Tues-Sun noon-6:30pm; admission Rs 5), where you can see works by Rabindranath Tagore.
While most Malls have multiplexes, the best cinema complex in the city is Nandan (1/1 A.J.C. Bose Rd.; tel. 033/2223-1210 or -0970), with excellent screens and a fantastic sound system. Nandan also regularly hosts art-film screenings and retrospectives (the annual Kolkata Film Festival takes place in Oct/Nov; www.kff.in). There are a number of stand-alone cinemas in Chowringhee where you can watch movies in the company of feverishly excitable Indian audiences.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.