The bustling capital of the Indian state of West Bengal, Kolkata is a living megacity which boasts of culturally rich ethnicity and exemplarily awarded leaders and laureates. It has been the pot boil of various historical movements and literary renaissances.
Jawaharlal Nehru once said, “Kolkata is the city of processions, of political manifestations”.
It is also a home for many great artists and revolutionists like Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore, Subhash Chandra Bose, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Mother Teresa and Satyajit Ray. There are various aspects to this third most productive and populated metropolitan city of India.
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History of Kolkata
The East India Company took over the trade and gave the name Calcutta in the 17th century. It was a huge colonial city and the capital of the British Indian empire till 1911. Later the capital was shifted to Delhi owing to the growing nationalism among the demography.
It was also the busiest and biggest trade port under the British empire. Western education and influences first came in India in Calcutta where it became a global city due to the amalgamation of European sciences and literature with Indian art and traditions. It was the hub of independence movements and revolutionary ideas.
- North Kolkata: This is the area which was most inhabited by the British and the 19th century Victorian style architecture is testimonial to that. It is brimming with overpopulated dwellings and greatly active bazaars. Shyambazaar, Chitpur, Shobhabazaar, Dum Dum, Maniktala are popular centers.
- Central Kolkata: This is the important business hub of government and private offices like the RBI and the High Court. The Maidan is often cited as the ‘lungs of Kolkata’ as it is in the heart of the city. Victoria Memorial and Kolkata Race Course are present in its vicinity. Central Park and Millennium Park are also popular areas.
- East Kolkata: This is relatively new and is recently been planned and developed. The Salt Lake City or Bhidannagar, Rajarhat (New Town), Beliaghata are centres of IT and telecommunications industry.
- South Kolkata: This is the locality which is considered posh and highly developed. Lansdowne, Santoshpur, Golf Green, Ballygunge and Alipore are main attractions. The headquarters for the Eastern Command of the Indian Army is at Fort William.
Mostly moderate, climate in Kolkata is fairly pleasant and tropical. The summers which extend from March to June are hot and humid. The winter is not harsh. The coldest month is January where temperatures have sometimes gone to 5 degrees Celsius.
The months of April to June entail heavy rainfall accompanied with thunderstorms. This time is called the ‘kal- boishakhi’. The pollution levels are alarming and increase the risk of lung cancer and other diseases needs to be curbed with.
The sex ratio in Kolkata is 899 females per 1000 males (this is lower than the national average). According to the 2011 census, the population of the city is above eleven million and the literacy rate is 87.14%, higher than the national average. Bengali Hindus are a majority.
They worship Goddess Durga and celebrate Durga Pooja with utmost fervour. Kolkata is known for making enchanting sculptures of Mahishasurmardini (Goddess Durga who killed the demon Mahishasur). People here also have great academic inclination.
This place is different from other cities of India because it focuses on football and sports other than just cricket. Residents of Kolkata are known to be modern, logical and intelligent. Marwadis, Biharis and Assamese people are large minorities.
Kolkata is the major centre for finance and commerce in Eastern India. It is the only city in the east to have an international airport.
Once, it was the financial market of India but due to drop in economy post independence, when leftists kept hurdling the offices with strikes and extreme militant unions marred the commerce scene in the city, the city suffered decline in its popularity as a financial hub and began to be called ‘the dying city’.
It has, however, gained steady progress again and is now a big competition even to international cities.
Often dubbed as the ‘City of Furious, Creative energy’, the culture, media or sports chapters in this city are a vivacious kaleidoscope of the creative and modern minds of Kolkata. People here love to eat – the innumerable sweets, fish dishes and savoury snacks available at every household and nook and corner of the city is the heartbeat of its culture.
‘Sondesh’, a sweet made of milk extract or ‘chhena’ and ‘rasgulla’, a syrupy white milk ball, are evergreen favourites. Among main dishes, various gourmet fish curries and recipes are something Kolkata and in general Bengalis pride themselves on.
Kolkata’s street food game is top notch as well – inspired by European pallet, the Kathi Roll or noodles served within an egg white wrap is unanimously the number one snack voted by college and office goers. It is a dreamland for foodies. Even in the field of fashion and media, the public is inspirational.
It is often said that Kolkata houses India’s best singers and aplomb talent for fine arts. Various universally acknowledged painters, writers, singers, dancers, sculptors, engineers and scientists take pride in calling Kolkata their home.
Trams are the specialty of Kolkata’s transport. They are mono trains that run on tracks made on roads. Still a huge hit amongst the public, it is a mirror of the rich heritage and history of this old yet youthful city.
The hustle and bustle of the streets, the colossal art in its blood, the warmth of great sumptuous food and the love for modernity with traditions intact, is what makes this megacity a true Indian empire in its spirits. It is therefore, that it is lovingly called ‘The City of Joy’ where culture and science, today and tomorrow, dreams and revolutionists walk hand in hand.