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Calcutta (Kolkata)

A city of Joy and Love, Grandeur and Glory, Kolkata is full of life and bustle, verging on the chaotic as well as traditional occupations and ultra modern industries. Kolkata is the second largest city of India and is the capital of West Bengal. Formerly the capital of British India, it is a city with a great deal of charm. Its imperial monuments, strong cultural and religious flavor leaves an indelible impression on the visitor. 

History of Calcutta 

In 1690, Job Charnok, an agent of the East India Company chose this place for a British trade settlement. The site was carefully selected, being protected by the Hooghly River on the west, a creek to the north, and by salt lakes about two and a half miles to the east. There were three large villages along the east bank of the river Ganges, named, Sutanuti, Gobindapur and Kalikata. These three villages were bought by the British from local land lords. The Mughal emperor granted East India Company freedom of trade in return for a yearly payment of 3,000 rupees.

Kolkata was just a village before the British came to India; the capital city of Bengal was Murshidabad, around 60 miles north of Kolkata. In 1756, Siraj-ud-daullah, Nawab of Bengal, attacked the city and captured the fort. Kolkata was recaptured in 1757 by Robert Clive when the British defeated Siraj-ud-daullah on the battle field of Plassey. In 1772, Kolkata became the capital of British India, and the first Governor General Warren Hastings moved all important offices from Murshidabad to Kolkata. Till 1912, Kolkata was the capital of India, when the British moved the capital city to Delhi. In 1947, When India gained freedom and the country got partitioned between India and Pakistan, Kolkata became the capital city of the state of West Bengal. 

Geography of Calcutta 

Kolkata is located in the eastern part of India at 22�82′N 88�20′E. It has spread linearly along the banks of the river Hooghly. The Kolkata Municipal Corporation has an area of 185 square kilometers. The city is at sea level, the average elevation being 17 feet. The whole area is in the Ganges Delta and is monotonously plain. The Bay of Bengal coastline is about 60 miles to the south. The Sundarban National Park starts within 100 kms south to the city. Most of the city was originally marshy wetlands, remnants of which can still be found especially towards the eastern parts of the city where the remaining wetlands have been converted to fish farming canters. Human habitation has led to the establishment of mature trees and shrubs. The original marshland has been changed to a primarily moist deciduous habitat that gets flourished under the high rainfall and sunny humid climate. Like most of the Indo-Gangetic Plains the predominant soil type is alluvial soil.

Kolkata has a subtropical climate, with summer monsoons. The annual mean temperature is 26.8 �C (80�F); monthly mean temperatures range from 19 �C to 30 �C (67 �F to 86 �F) and maximum temperatures can often exceed 40 �C (104 �F) during May-June. Winter tends to last from Mid-November to early-February, with the lowest temperatures hovering in the 12 �C - 14 �C range during December and January. The highest recorded temperature is 43 �C (111 �F) and the lowest is 5 �C (41 �F). 

Tourist attractions of Calcutta 

Kolkata remains the capital of the eastern state of West Bengal and is situated along the eastern bank of the Hooghly River.

It has tided over the decades of unplanned development mainly due to its Maidan - an enormous open expanse occupying about 1,300 acres (500 hectares) along the river that has become the city's lungs. The uninterrupted stretch of greens also contains the elements the city's love viz., the football playing grounds of the iconic East Bengal, Mohan Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting club. Incidentally, ever so often, the Maidan also turns into the open air venue for gathering for political parties as well as a breath of fresh air for early morning joggers.

The Victoria Memorial

Adjacent to the Maidan, stands the neo-classical attempt at building the Taj, an enormous paean in marble to the Grand Empress - The Victoria Memorial. The failed attempt although, a cross between classical western and Mughal style, yet reveals the global attraction for the monument of love even in those days. It was opened on 1921. There are enormous oil paintings in the Royal Gallery, illustrating episodes from Queen Victoria's long, eventful life and reign, an impressive collection of the British colonial period.

Dalhousie Square

The erstwhile Dalhousie Square with a lake at the centre � is the administrative nerve centre of Kolkata. Writer's Building on the north side of the square dates from 1880 represents Gothic-style architecture and is now the administrative office of the ruling Marxist Government.

Academy of Fine Arts

The city's cultural attractions begin with the Academy of Fine Arts. Established in 1933, the latest and arguably the greatest works of contemporary artists are exhibited here throughout the year. Other vibrant and cutting edge Group theatres and dance programs happen everyday in a hall inside. Solely dedicated to the greatest cultural son of Bengal, the Rabindra gallery exhibits manuscripts, paintings and personal belongings of Tagore.

The Asiatic Society was founded by Sir William Jones in 1784 with Warren Hastings as its first patron. Located at Park Street it contains a library inside that has approximately 20000 tomes including 8000 rare Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian and Hindi manuscripts. It also houses invaluable archaeological relics, geological and ethnological specimens.

Asutosh Museum of Indian Art

This museum has rare and valuable collections including Bengal Patachitra paintings, 'katha shilpo' art etc. Its location within Centenary building of University of Calcutta makes the highest art very accessible to the youth.  




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