The streets of Calcutta are full to the brim with a mixture of old and new modes of transport. Traditional transportation units, such as rickshaws, travel at a completely different speed to the speed limit, ignoring taxi cabs and cars; this combination often leads to congestion and pile ups. The traffic in Calcutta is extremely heavy and hectic, all day, every day.
Due to the unprecedented build-up of traffic, the city suffers from a high rate of motor accidents as well as problems with pollution. In recent years, to counter this issue, a new network of expressways, flyovers and road widening projects have been in process. As a result of this, traffic is in the act of easing up.
Expats intending on driving in Calcutta should be aware that driving is on the left and that a large amount of people on the roads do not pay due attention to road safety laws. There are options for public transport such as tana rickshaws, which mainly operate around the market districts, and buses which run through the city from 04:00 until 23:00.
It is easy to see how Calcutta has gained the nickname ‘the City of Palaces’. This incredible city boasts a wealth of majestic monuments, from colonial royal palaces to ancient temples. Hailed as being one of the most interesting cities in the world for sightseeing, this is the ideal destination for expats who love to explore the past and the treasures it has left behind.
The Marble Palace is one of the most well-known buildings in Calcutta; this 19th century manor once belonged to a maharaja and today is filled with splendor including fascinating Indian artefacts, antique furnishings and original masterpieces by world famous artists like Rubens.
Another iconic feature in the city, for locals and visitors alike, is the Kali Temple. This ancient place of worship is a hugely important holy site for Hindus and is a breath taking example of architecture and design. Decorated with floral tiles and images of peacocks, this temple is strewn with hibiscus and offers a spot well worth visiting.
For such a vast metropolis, the serious crime rate of Calcutta is extremely low. The main problem in the city is petty theft. Foreigners are especially at risk from crimes such as pick pocketing and the distraction technique methods of theft and con artists. Therefore, expats should be extra vigilant and keep an extremely close eye on their belongings at all times, particularly in crowded places.
Another safety issue in Calcutta is abuse aimed at women. A form of verbal and physical street harassment known locally as ‘eve teasing’ has become a major issue in recent years. This experience can be frightening for women and as a result of this, females are not advised to travel alone. The most problematic parts of the city are crowded markets and shopping districts. In case of an emergency, the police can be reached by dialing 100.