Kolkata formerly Calcutta is Eastern India's biggest city and truly one of the crown jewels among Indian cities. With a population teeming near 15 million this is one of the biggest metropolitan cities around the world. During the British rule in India it served as the Indian capital and was the center of education, industry, science and culture for a long time after as well.
Kolkata has a long drawn history, however in its modern form struggles with the usual problems of urbanization viz. population, poverty, congestion and pollution. The name change from Calcutta to Kolkata is still not widely accepted among the western media which still refers to the city using its older name.
The area that Calcutta is located in shows signs of in-habitation for over 2000 years however documented history of civilization in this area begins with the arrival of the East India company.
Kolkata houses a lot of British age monuments which are quite popular among tourists and form some of the key attraction points of the city. Fort William completed in 1702 is one of the prominent monuments around Kolkata and used to house a garrison in its prime.
The city has a huge port which served as the centre for trade with India. During the 2nd world war the City was bombed several times and it has also seen its share of death during the infamous Bengal famine of 1943.
Situated along the river Hooghly it is one of the cities which had all forms of urban transportation including land, rail and water based.
Modern day Kolkata is a mix of the old and the new. The Kolkata metro used to be one of its kind in India of recent until the introduction of the Delhi metro system. The city is also the only one in India to have a tram network. Almost all taxis in Kolkata give one a feeling of the old times with Ambassadors ruling the roost entirely. The city is alive with culture and art and its artistic nature has nurtured many a creative talent in India.
The 'para' or neighbourhood is a form of a mini community in the city with a strong local presence.People here habitually indulge in gossiping and these sessions often transform into freestyle intellectual conversations as well. The many monuments in the city belong to the British raj and one can often see the influence of it all across the major monuments in the city.
Kolkata becomes a hub of activity during the festivals especially the Durga Puja which is the biggest festival in Eastern India. Calcuttans are also renowned for their fish preparations and their sweet tooth. 'Macher jhol' (fish curry), rasogolla, sandesh, mishti doi are all famous preparations that originated from Kolkata and have since made their way into the heart and the food habits of people all over India.
Kolkata has been the origin of India's best writers including stalwarts like Rabrindanth Tagore, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay and Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay. Unlike the rest of India this is one city where football is revered at an equal scale as cricket which is the national passion of the rest of the country. The city hosts the Eden gardens which is one of only two stadiums in the world which can play host to more than a 100,000 people.