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Shopping in Kolkata (Calcutta)

Shopping in Kolkata is diverse, with lots available from street markets to gleaming new shopping malls. There is something for every budget. If you head for the local markets and street stalls, be prepared to haggle and be prepared for crowds. Additionally, you will be constantly pestered by individuals hoping to earn a commission by leading you to a shop they have an arrangement with. Be firm.

Key areas

Central Cottage Industries Emporium, 7 Jawaharlal Nehru Road, is good for buying quality handicrafts from around India and fixed prices makes life easier. Artisana, 13 Chowringee Terrace, 1/F, was created by the Crafts Council of West Bengal, a non-profit organisation promoting craftworkers and weavers of India. Women's Friendly Society, 29 Park Lane, is a co-operative selling exquisitely embroidered clothing and table linen made by destitute women.

The eastern end of BB Ganguly Street, near Sealdah station, has a string of tiny jewellery stores, selling mainly very ornate gold and silver pieces. The lively Park Street has a wide range of small independent outlets, including an array of upmarket fabric and sari shops, restaurants and bookshops.

Oxford Bookstore, 17 Park Street, is one of Kolkata's best; modern and airy, with an excellent range of publications, from fiction to pictorial. It has a charming little cafe, plus regular talks and activities.

The vast Music World, 18G Park Street, has CDs and DVDs of Indian contemporary, regional and classical music, plus music from all over the world. Planet M, 22 Camac Street (Block B), is also recommended for its wide range of CDs.

Markets

New Market, Lindsay Street, has over 2,000 shops selling clothing, jewellery, household goods, and everything else imaginable. It’s the oldest market in the city. Good for bargains, chaotic and atmospheric, with tenacious touts ready to grab you as you enter. A great place for buying fabric and there are plenty of inexpensive tailors to sew up whatever your heart desires.

Chowringhee Road, from Park Street to New Market, is lined with street sellers selling a wonderful array of items. You will need to look hard to pick up decent terracotta wares. Bertram Street Market offers leather goods, jewellery, garments and fabrics.

Shopping centres

The Dakshinapan Shopping Centre, Gariahat Road, contains dozens of government emporiums selling local goods at fixed prices, while Swabhumi, near the Hyatt Regency, is a cultural centre cum shopping plaza selling clothing and crafts. The latter is slightly twee, but there is a commendable selection of local (good value) jewellery and silk shirts. The Forum Mall, on Elgin Road, offers six floors of fashion; while City Centre mall located in Salt Lake City is a vast complex, one of the largest in the city.

Opening hours

Larger shops are usually open around 1000 to 1800. Some close for half a day on Saturday. Most are closed on Sunday, especially around Park Street.

Souvenirs

Saris, tailor-made clothes, jewellery, spices, arts and crafts, leather goods, books, CDs and DVDs are some of the most popular souvenirs found in Kolkata.

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ITC Sonar

Spreading over 6.5 hectares (16 acres), this deluxe hotel has a gloriously tranquil ambience. Its top-class rooms surround a huge pool and are tastefully minimalist, with contemporary designs and fresh tones. Each room comes with Internet access, personalised vaults and 24-hour butler service. Guests can enjoy the health spa and beauty salon, with a variety of massage treatments, gym and collection of fine restaurants including delicious Dum Pukht.

Lytton Hotel

A comfortable, friendly, hotel in the heart of busy Sudder Street, the Lytton has pleasing rooms, all with air conditioning, fridge, Wi-Fi access, television and writing desk, making it a good value (for Kolkata) hotel for business travellers and tourists alike. It has a business centre, a good restaurant and a cosy bar – and it's just around the corner from the Indian Museum.

The Oberoi Grand

Set back from the chaos of Chowringee, this elegant Victorian structure has long been one of Kolkata's (and the subcontinent's) finest, and indeed most historic, hotels. Its courtyard is filled with columns and plants; the exquisitely restored hotel has beautifully decorated rooms (including sumptuous suites with grand four-poster beds and teak wood floors) in addition to a handful of superb restaurants, a tea lounge, spa, fitness centre and pool.

The Park

A great location in the heart of Park Street, this upmarket property is a member of the Design Hotels of the World. Standard doubles are very comfortable with soothing warm tones and there are also more opulent suites and larger 'Luxury rooms'. It's stylish, well run and home to the trendy Tantra nightclub as well as some commendable restaurants. Other treats include an inviting swimming pool, gym and spa (which offers traditional Ayurvedic treatments and heavenly body scrubs).

Hotel Lindsay

The Lindsay offers a degree of comfort that belies the price. A nice feature is the rooftop restaurant, which affords good views of the teeming city below. It also has Wi-Fi in the rooms, and all the usual 'mod cons' expected from a modern hotel.

Fairlawn Hotel

A living part of the city's history, this small-scale property harks back to the late 18th century and has retained a creaky charm, and the charming, eccentric octogenarian owner is proud to talk about the interesting photos lining the walls. Extensively renovated in 2010, the hotel is crammed with bric-a-brac, old wicker furniture and Raj-era memorabilia. Rooms aren't flash but are comfortable enough, with some bathrooms featuring great old free-standing bath tubs.