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the city of joy

Kolkata - Overview

Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta, is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. Kolkata was the commercial capital of East India, located on the east bank of the Hooghly River. The city of Kolkata has 4.5 million residents, and the metropolitan area, including suburbs, has a population of approximately 15.7 million, making it the third most populous metropolitan area in India and the 13th most populous urban area in the world. The city is also classified as the eighth largest urban agglomeration in the world.

Kolkata served as the capital of India during the British Raj until 1911 when due to geographical disadvantages and growing nationalism in Bengal the capital was shifted to New Delhi. The city is noted for its vibrant political culture, ranging from the Indian struggle for independence to contemporary politics. Once the center of modern education, science, culture, and politics in India, Kolkata witnessed economic stagnation in the years following India's independence in 1947. However, since the year 2000, an economic rejuvenation has led to an acceleration in the city's growth. Like other metropolitan cities of India, Kolkata continues to struggle with urbanization problems like pollution and traffic congestion. Despite its problems, Kolkata remains the dominant urban area of eastern India and a major educational and cultural hub.

Nearby Areas

Kolkata and its adjoining areas are home to several institutions of national importance such as Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, Indian Statistical Institute, Asiatic Society, Bose Institute, S.N. Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences, Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, the Marine Engineering and Research Institute, the Rabindra Bharati University, the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, the Calcutta Mathematical Society, the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management- The First B-School of India, the West Bengal University of Health Sciences, the West Bengal University of Animal and Fishery Sciences, the West Bengal University of Technology and the National Institute of Fashion Technology.

Kolkata is the main business, commercial and financial hub of East India and the northeastern states. It is home to the Calcutta Stock Exchange — India's second-largest bourse.

Until recently, flexible production had always been the norm in Kolkata, and the informal sector has comprised more than 40% of the labour force. For example, roadside hawkers generated business worth 2 billion U.S. dollars in 2005. State and federal government employees make up a large percentage of the city's workforce. The city has a large unskilled and semi-skilled labour population, along with other blue-collar and knowledge workers. As in many other Indian cities, information technology became a major growing sector in Kolkata since late 1990s, with the IT sector growing at 70% yearly — twice that of the national average. In recent years there has been a surge of investments in the housing infrastructure sector with several new projects coming up in the city led by companies such as Tata Housing Development Company, DLF Limited and Unitech Group. Kolkata is home to many industrial units operated by large Indian corporations with products ranging from electronics to jute. Some notable companies headquartered in Kolkata include ITC Limited, India Government Mint, Kolkata, Haldia Petrochemicals, Exide Industries, Hindustan Motors, Britannia Industries, Bata India, Birla Corporation, CESC Limited, RPG Group, Texmaco Limited, Bengal Ambuja, Philips India, Eveready Batteries, Coal India Limited, Damodar Valley Corporation, PwC India, and Peerless Group. Recently, various events like adoption of "Look East" policy by the government of India, opening of the Nathu La Pass in Sikkim as a border trade-route with China and immense interest in the South East Asian countries to enter the Indian market and invest have put Kolkata in an advantageous position for development in future, particularly with likes of Myanmar. Kolkata is an important centre for banking and finance. At present it has the headquarters of three large nationalized banks Allahabad Bank, UCO Bank and United Bank of India.

Places of Interest

Kolkata (previously known as Calcutta) is not only an important city of India but is also popular for its historical background and its present architectures.

Not only has it emerged into a beautiful city but also into a city full of inspirations.The climate, of the former capital of India, being moderate always favors the stay of the tourists who come. If we want to enjoy the city then some amount of planning is required like how to come to the city, where to stay , which guides to hire which routes to take etc but once all that is decided or arranged, the rest is on us.As the seat of British power between the 18th – 19th century, Calcutta has long enthralled travelers from far-flung countries all over the world. Centuries later, and armed with a new name, 'Kolkata' is busy and bustling. But if you care to look beyond the cacophony of noise and heat, this enigmatic city could give you a whole gamut of experience unlike anywhere in India. For, this is the place of the first Episcopal Church (St. Paul’s cathedral) and the largest science hub (Science city) in Asia. It is where the world renowned Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore was born. Two of the holiest Kali temples in India (Kalighat and Dakhineswar) and the famous Belur Math find pride of place here.

Some memorable places in Kolkata are Fort William, Birla Planetarium, Victoria Memorial, Eden Garden, Howrah Bridge, Botanical Garden, The Saheed Minar, Writers Building and Marble Palace. Each place has its own features and is unique in its own way. Fort William is located on the banks of the river Hooghly and is named after the King Williams III of England. It was built in order to gain protection from the Muslim invaders. Presently it is a military area and permissions are required to enter the fort and see it. Similarly the Victoria Memorial is a grand architectural miracle. It was established in 1921 and is a museum at present. In fact it is considered as the finest museum of Kolkata. Next comes the Birla Planetarium which is largest museum of Asia. Consisting of sophisticated instruments and interactive art galleries this place teaches us a lot about the galaxy and planets stars etc.

Jorasanko Thakurbari

This is the famous Indian thakurbari where famous poet and philosopher Rabindranath Tagore was born. It is located in Dwarakanath Tagore lane off chitpur road. If you want to find out about the great poet and his work, there couldn’t be a better place than RabindraBharati museum located inside the Thakurbari except for Shantiniketan (built by Kabi Guru himself) at Birbhum district in West Bengal. The museum has three galleries – one solely dedicated to Tagore and his extraordinary range of work, while the other two focuses on Tagore family and the stalwarts of Bengal Renaissance. Best time to visit Thakurbari is on May 7th when the place gets all decked up every year to celebrate the poet’s birthday.

St Paul's Cathedral

Saint Paul's cathedral is the first Episcopal church of Asia and situated at the southern tip of the Maidan adjacent to Victoria Memorial on the cathedral road. St. Paul’s Cathedral stands witness to a time full of European artistic splendor and supremacy. The St. Paul’s Cathedral is perhaps one of the finest examples of Indo-Gothic architecture in India, with its large stained-glass windows, pointed arches and two Florentine frescoes. Set on a vast tract of land and surrounded by well-manicured lawns and ancient trees, the largest cathedral in Kolkata is an oasis of peace in this otherwise busy world. The inside is just as awesome with some exquisite mural paintings based on the life and work of the great Saint. It bathes in holy glow as thousands attend to the midnight mass every year before the Christmas and the New Year.

Marble Palace

It is truly extraordinary of Raja RajendralalMullick, a zamindar in Bengal, to build such a jaw-dropping marble architecture way back in 1840 and, that too, dedicate it to arts! Located at MuktaramBabu Street on C.R. Avenue, Marble Palace is believed to preserve some original works of world renowned painters like Peter Paul Rubens and Sir Joshua Reynolds. But the biggest USP is its fluted columns and sculptures of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, the Buddha and Hindu Gods all in one places.

Nicco Park

If you are planning a day out with your family or friends, Nicco Park would be your best choice. While variety of rides (Cave ride, Water Coaster, Flying Saucer, Pirate Ship, etc.) ensure that children remain engaged, adults can spend a relaxing day stretching out on its vast green or just strolling around. There is also a food park to satiate your hunger with delicious South Indian, North Indian, Bengali or Chinese fast food options.

Kalighat Temple

The age-old Kalighat temple might have been in Kolkata since the Gupta period, though there is nothing to substantiate it. But the fact that it is one of the 51stPeeths of the Goddess Kali makes it one of the holiest places and evokes the deepest devotion from pilgrims across India. For those who want to make a special offering to the mother Goddess, Thursdays and Saturdays are the days to visit. Otherwise the temple is open on all days.


Awefully located behind RabindraSadan (prominent Bengali cultural center and auditorium), is the state-of-the art cine complex where movie lovers in Eastern India celebrate the biggest movie festival – the Kolkata Film Festival. What you may not know is, Nandan is also a popular hang-out zone for budding artists, intellectuals, lovers or just anyone who has an opinion about something! For students of film and media studies, checking out the Satyajit Ray Film Archive or browsing through the well-stocked library at the Ritwik Memorial Library (for cinematic research) could be very rewarding.

Science city, Kolkata

Situated along the Eastern Bypass, is the Science City of Kolkata, hailed as the largest science hub of the Indian subcontinent. But you don’t need to be a science buff to enjoy this place! The ambiance is cool and attractive with well-maintained flower beds and lawns. But the biggest crowd-puller is the Space Odessey which houses a sprawling space theatre. But don’t forget to drop in at the other attractions – Maritime Centre (an impressive two-storied building that replicates a ship), Dynamotion Hall or taking a theme tour of the evolution park. You would be surprised just how fast time flies by when you are in this amazing place.

Kolkata Race Course

Since 1819, Kolkata Race Course at Hastings has been one of the largest and prime destinations for horse racing in India. Maintained by the Royal Turf Club, it includes five racing tracks, polo grounds, a golf course and a lake. During racing season, the atmosphere in the 30,000 capacity galleries crackles with excitement as members and non-members from all walks of life (from dressed-up celebrities and industrialists to college students in their jeans and tees) rub shoulders with each other and bet on their favorite horses. Though it’s open on all days, visiting on any racing day is all that more fun. Undoubtedly, December is considered as the best time to visit the race course, not just for the cool climate but also for the sheer number of racing events geared up for the season.

Victoria Memorial

The stately monument is as much part of Kolkata as Tajmahal is to Delhi (Agra). Its closeness with the Taj made Victoria Memorial known as the "Taj of the Raj." Surrounded by acres of lush garden, Victorial Memorial with its Italian Renaissance style architecture is still mesmerizing, especially on moon-lit nights. If you are interested in royal portraits (Queen Victoria and others), the Royal Gallery housed inside the monument is where you should head for. But the gallery which draws the most footfalls is a recent addition – the Calcutta Gallery. It has some beautiful paintings that give glimpses of life in British era –‘White Town’ and ‘Black town.

Belur Math

Belur Math is one of the finest examples of modern temples architecture, a perfect blend of mosque, church and temple in India. It was founded by Swami Vivekananda in the memory of Ramakrishna Paramahansa. It's inspired on Swamiji's philosophy of universal brotherhood. The place has great historical significance – Vivekananda spent his last years over here. Add to this, the tranquility of its surroundings with the view of the river Ganges gently caressing the temple garden in the early morning sun. One can easily imagine Vivekananda in deep meditation under one of the ancient trees in the beautiful monastery. Open on all days: 6:30 am-11 am and then 3:30 am-7:00 pm; Photography is prohibited here.

Tourist Info


Kolkata represents one of the four metropolitan cities of India. The city makes up the capital of the eastern state of India, West Bengal. The city, formerly designated as Calcutta, sway's rich cultural and demographic resources. The popularity of Kolkata, as one of the premier cities in India, reached its heights in the pre independence era. The city in a short span, about 400 years, has evolved into one of the major commercial areas and a great learning centre in the sub continent.


Kolkata city is situated on the west banks of Hooghly River, in the state of West Bengal. The city forms the eastern fringes of the state and lies close to the neighboring country, Bangladesh. The sea, Bay of Bengal, is not far from the place and is about 60 miles away. The approximate distance from other important cities of India are: Delhi - 1461 kms, Mumbai - 1987 kms, Chennai - 1676 kms, Hyderabad - 1576 kms, Jaipur 1472 kms, Agra - 1258 kms.


The metropolitan area approximates to about 1380 sq kms.


Kolkata has sub tropical climate with summer monsoons. The annual mean temperature puts close to 26°C. The summers are hot and humid whereas winters are moderate. The region receives an annual rainfall of about 1,582 mm and most of it is poured during the monsoon season.


The city holds a burgeoning population that is moving closer to 15 millions. The city suburbs are densely populated. The average population density is about 33,000 for every square kilometre.


Kolakata is one of the largest jute producing cities in the world. Besides jute major industries include that of heavy engineering, chemicals, glass, ceramics and paper.


The city is provided with a number of transportation options. The city utilizes almost all the modes, incorporating roadways, railways, subways, water transport and airways. For public convenience there are buses, taxis, trams, metro (subway cars), railways, ferries, auto rickshaws and cycle rickshaws. The airport at Dum Dum serves as the international airport, where as the one at Behala constitutes the domestic one.

Famous For

The city has quite a number of aspects which makes it a prime tourist destination in India. The city is primarily famous as a great learning and commercial centre.

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