Kolkata may be known for its crowds but on a walking tour it’s the air of religious diversity that triumphs. Where else would Santa ride a rickshaw?
The streets are a riot of tinsel and fairy lights. The air smells of fruitcake and wine as crowds gather at an outdoor stage for festive singing and dancing. Excitement builds to fever pitch as Father Christmas arrives, laden with gifts.
But there’s no breath misting in frosty air, and Santa is not in a sleigh but a rickshaw, because this is Christmas Kolkata-style, and that means a trip to Bowbazar, a district in the centre of the city whose jumbled cultures make for an exhilarating trip through the centuries since the East India Company started trading here.