Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta), the capital city of West Bengal, is a city of every traveller’s dream. With architectural splendour, rich art galleries, vibrant culture and historical significance, Kolkata is undeniably one of the most important cities of the country with a significant past and culture, religious importance, along with a rich art and literary history. Referred as the “City of Joy”, Kolkata is indeed a place of delight for travel lovers. Kolkata Tourism offers a wide range of engaging choices to visitors, ranging from sightseeing, events, activities, cuisine and culture.
Varied grand architecture belonging to colonial era and beyond which presents a compelling contrast to the modernity of this metropolitan city, is something that one must experience at least once in his/her lifetime. The city is equally popular for the cultural events that are organised here. From Kolkata book fair to the splendid Durga puja celebrations, there are ample of cultural and art-related activities that one can be part of during a Kolkata tour.
It is the land where great thinkers, writers, visionaries and artists were born. Rabindranath Tagore, Satyajit Ray, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, Swami Vivekananda, Subhas Chandra Bose, Jagadish Chandra Bose and sportsman like Sourav Ganguly and Leander Paes are a few of the renowned personalities. Mother Teresa also spent considerable amount of her life in this city. Owing to this, this city is often referred with a popular saying which states - ‘What Bengal thought today, India thought tomorrow’.
History of Kolkata
There are many stories behind the name Calcutta/Kolkata. According to some, the city was named as Kalikata, which was created by combining the three village names. However, as per other researchers, the name was given owing to its geographical location. As the city is situated at the river side, it is named Kolikata with Kol referring to the depressions on the river banks. The most popularly believed reason behind the name Kolkata is after the name of Hindu Goddess Kali which later became Calcutta. However, in 2001, the city was renamed as Kolkata.
Three villages namely Kalikata, Gobindapur and Sutanuti together constitute the city of Kolkata, which is located at the banks of River Hooghly. During 13th century, trade started flourishing in the city; Saptagram is earliest town known to have established trade relations with foreign lands.
In 1686, British East India Company started a factory in Sutanuti. It was a part of expansion plans of British India. By 1535, Portuguese had settled here while in 1655 Dutch arrived in Chinsurah and in 1697 French arrived in Chandernagore and in 1755 Danes in Serampore. All these ports along with the villages of Kalikata, Gobindapur and Sutanuti served as the prime centre of trade till 18th Century.
However, the recorded history of the city is during the British rule. From 1772 to 1911, Kolkata served as the capital city of British India as the capital was shifted to Delhi, while from 1912 to 1947, it was the capital of Bengal and later after independence, it became the capital city of West Bengal.
The city has seen many battles and freedom movements as well. For instance, in 1756 Nawab of Bengal, Siraj-Ud-Daula, attacked and took control of the city; later in 1757, during Battle of Plassey, Nawab was defeated. From the year 1830 to 1930, many nationalistic movements started from this city.
Places to visit in Kolkata
Kolkata boasts of many interesting sightseeing choices that cater to all kinds of interests. Irrespective of how you are travelling or with whom you are holidaying, you will find many engaging options to enjoy and explore in this city. From historical buildings, art galleries, ancient temples, colonial churches, gardens, stadium to shopping markets and eateries, there are many amazing places to see in Kolkata.
Architecture lovers will be mesmerised with the structural beauty of building like Victoria Memorial hall, Raj Bhavan, Writers’ Building, etc. Mother House, which is the headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity which was founded by Mother Teresa, is also a popular sightseeing place in Kolkata. Tomb of Mother Teresa is also located here. For sports fanatics, a visit to Salt Lake Stadium/Yuba Bharati Krirangan and Eden Garden is must. For shopping, places like Bara Bazaar, College Street, Gariahat and new market are perfect.
The city is religiously significant as well. It is considered as one of the 52 shakti peethas. Hence, many devotees visit the Kalighat Kali Temple to offer prayers to the Goddess Kali. Along with Kalighat Kali Temple, there are many other prominent temples in the city that are worth visiting such as Birla Mandir, ISKCON Temple, Belur Math, Dakshineshwar Temple, etc.
Along with all these, other popular places to visit in Kolkata are Rabindra Sarobar, Howrah Bridge, Fort William, Indian Museum, Marble Palace, South Park Street Cemetery, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tipu Sultan Mosque, Shaheed Minar, Alipore Zoological Gardens, Aquatica Water Park, Nicco Amusement Park, etc
If time permits, you can also visit to many places around Kolkata such as terracotta temples of Bishnupur, Sundarbans National Park, Shantiniketan, beaches in Digha and Mandarmani and many more.
Location of Kolkata
Kolkata, the capital city of West Bengal state, is situated within lower Ganges Delta in eastern part of Indian sub-continent. It lies along the eastern bank of River Hooghly.
How to reach Kolkata/Calcutta
Kolkata is easily accessible from all the parts of the country. The Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Airport is connected to all the prominent cities such as Mumbai, Bangalore, Port Blair, Chennai, Hyderabad, Delhi, etc.
It is also linked by railways to the rest of the country. The city has two main railway stations which are located in Howrah and Sealdah. From super-fast trains to express, there are many trains running to the city from all over India.
For those who are travelling by road the city is well connected by roads. One can either take a private and state run buses or hire a cab to the city from nearby areas. Esplanade Terminus is the main bus stand of the city. Along with buses running from Shillong and Tripura to Kolkata, there are buses between Kolkata, Dhaka and Bhutan as well.