Meet the Host: Iftekhar Ahsan, founder of Calcutta Walks
Passionate about his home city Kolkata and equally passionate about food, exploring Kolkata on foot with Iftekhar Ahsan will reveal to you a fascinating Indian metropolis away from the main tourist sights.
Fondly known as Ifte by those that know him and meet him on his tours, Ifte is a curious traveller himself. He likes to see new places, meet new people, and ask questions – qualities inherent in travellers – which make him an ideal host to show you Kolkata.
Ifte started Calcuatta Walks a decade ago and now runs a series of interesting and highly entertaining guided walks in the city, such as The Star Still Shines, In the Footsteps of the Raj and Confluence of Cultures.
Anyone who has travelled with India Unbound or experienced a custom made journey by us knows we love walking tours and great guides. And Ifte ticks both those boxes.
We recently spent the morning with him in Kolkata and put to him a few questions of our own to find out a little more about the founder of Calcutta Walks.
Why did you start Calcutta Walks?
I started this business 10-year ago. The trigger for me was after I hired a local guide myself to show a group of visiting foreign friends around. There weren’t many options that I could find that would show visitors Kolkata properly.
What’s your favourite place to show people in Kolkata?
I absolutely love the South Park Street Cemetery. It’s a place I can spend hours in and not get bored.
What’s your favourite place to eat in Kolkata?
I love Nizam’s double egg double chicken roll. That and the Royal Biryani on Chitpore Road. Both are amazing and I could alternate between eating at those two for the rest of my life. They are cheap (about $2 to $4 each) and nutritious.
What reaction do you get from people during your walks?
I think people are in general fascinated by how easygoing Calcuttans are in spite of living in a city teeming with 14 million others.
How would you recommend your city to others?
Kolkata is a city teeming with soul. A city where people have time for each other and the finer things in life.
Who do your walks appeal to?
Definitely to travellers that don’t care about seeing just the tourist attractions, but would rather see life from a different perspective.
Kolkata’s best kept secret?
The most amazing food in the world at the cheapest prices.
A guide city walk with Ifte in Kolkata can be included in any of our custom made journeys. A stay at Kolkata is also included in our suggested 15-day Classic East India itinerary. You may also like to read our hotel review on the Oberoi Grand in Kolkata.
Ifte also appeared in Joanna Lumley’s India which screened on ABC TV in Australia.