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Friday, August 15, 2008

Kolkata (Calcutta)

The British named Kolkata or Calcutta after the patron deity of the city known as Goddess Kali. Caluctta is actually the anglicized version of Kalikatta while the Kolkata is the Bengali version of the same name. The city is more than three hundred years old and was once the capital of British India until 1912. Its leisurely life style and the old-world charm still pervade this bustling metropolitan. It was recently the most densely populated city in the world and boasts of India's first Metro railway service. The city was founded in 1696 with the establishment of Fort Williams, which was the first British fort in India. It was then a mere fishermens' village and has now grown into being one of the largest cities in the world. Calcutta and its people are known for their creativity and vibrancy.

The strong cultural, literary and religious flavor of the city can be seen in its fine, arts, music, dance, theatre and writing. Calcutta has produced many Indian leaders and the Nobel Laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore. It serves as an important gateway to the North East and one of the major commercial cities of India. Durga Puja is one of the most celebrated festivals here and fairs and processions are held throughout the city. The festivals lasts for ten days, during which the whole city is profusely decorated and beautiful idols of Goddess Durga are erected everywhere in the city. However, there is almost no nightlife in the city.

Kolkata's Prime Attractions

Kali Temple The ancient temple, which was reconstructed in 1809 in its present form, is also known as the Kalighat temple. The city was named Calcutta or Kolkata after this temple as an anglicized version of Kalikata.
BBD Square The memorial dedicated to the three brave Bengali martyrs known as Dinesh, Badal and Binay, is also the commercial centre of the city. It is also known as the Dalhousie square and houses Raj Bhawan, Assembly house, High Court and General Post Office along with the Secretariat. GPO is said to be situated at the venue of the first fort of British in India. There is also the legend of the infamous Black Hole associated with the area, where is it said that the tyrant Siraj-Ud-Daulla cramped 146 people in a small room for a night and only 23 survived the ordeal and were found alive in the morning.

Eden Gardens The gardens were named after the sister of Alexander and now houses one of the largest stadiums of India, also known as the Ranji stadium. It also has a wooden pagoda and many beautiful trees.

Ravindra Gallery Lalit Kala Academy has a gallery dedicated to the rare and fine pictures and manuscripts of Rabindra Nath Tagore. It also exhibits paintings done in Rabindra style and is a popular venue for cultural programs and events.

Rabindra Setu Also known as the Howrah Bridge, it is one of the three bridges on River Hooghly. The bridge suspended on pillars is a marvel of British engineering and has become icon of Calcutta. It is still in working condition, though it is very old. There is a new bridge nearby too, known as the Vidya Sagar Setu, which is a cable suspended bridge and is quite similar in design to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

Marble Palace Once the private mansion of a Zamindar, it was built in 1835. Today, it serves as a private zoo and museum with several statues and paintings on display.

St. John's Church Built in 1787, the church boasts of a number of monuments such as the octagonal mausoleum of the founder of the city known as Job Char nock and the tomb of Admiral Watson.

Belur Math The headquarters of the Ramkrishna mission established by Swami Vivekanand is dedicated to the preaching of Ramkrishna Paramhansa such as unity among all the religions. He was a great Indian philosopher and died in 1897.

Kolkata City Facts

Location: Situated in West Bengal, India.
Climate: Kolkata experiences frequent rainfall and high velocity winds. It has tropical climate with hot and humid summers and pleasant winters.

How to Reach:

By Air: Kolkata has daily domestic flights to the major cities of India including Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Patna, Varanasi and Lucknow and international flights to and from countries in the Southeast Asia. The airport is known as the Dumdum airport.
By Train: Kolkata is well connected by trains all over India. Best options from Delhi are Rajdhani Express and Shatabdi Express, while you can take Coromandel Express from Chennai and Gitanjali Express from Mumbai. The two major railway stations are at Howrah and Sealdah respectively.
By Road: The main bus terminus is the Esplanade Terminus, while good motor able roads connect Kolkata to all the major cities in India.
By Sea: One can opt for boat and ship services to and from Andaman & Nicobar Islands or luxury cruises to Haldia, a modern port city nearby.

1 comment:

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