Kolkata is the capital city of West Bengal state in India. The city which is the cultural capital of whole India and the commercial capital of Eastern India. The city was earlier known as Calcutta, being pronounced since the British rule and has changed to Kolkata officially in 2001, has derived the name from Kalikata, which is a village name in the area before the British arrival, means the land of Goddess Kali. Kolkata is the second largest city of India. It is a cosmopolitan city where people, technology and ideas have blended together with the socio-political culture to give the city a new shape. The city is full of historical monuments and palaces and is therefore also called the The City of Palaces. Its glorious history dates back to 1690 when it was selected by the British for their trade settlements. The site was carefully chosen by the British as it was protected by the Hooghly River on the west, a creek on the north, and by salt lakes about two and a half miles to the east. The British defeated Siraj-ud-daullah (Nawab of Bengal) on the battle field of Plassey and Calcutta became the capital of British India till 1911. Thereafter, the city continued to play a major role in the political affairs of India. Till 1947, the city was a venue for major political programmes and an important plain for social reformation. The former was meant to remove British troops from the Indian soil while the later was to create social consciousness among the people. Kolkata provides enormous opportunities in economy, industry, education, culture, tourism and many more aspects that other cities may not. The rich flora of Kurseong town and surroundings is fascinating, and it has aptly been described as a Botanists Paradise. With the first showers in May, after a relatively dry winter and spring, the river beds glitter in the light of the sun like silver lines, while the sunlight and dappled shadows play hide and seek on the higher slopes of the valley. Sometimes on a clear day, one can see the clouds piling up in the plains and advancing slowly but relentlessly to cover the foothills.
Situated near the river Hooghly, this is one of the biggest parks in India. It covers an area of 3 km. On the west of Maidan, is Fort William. Fort William the most impressive edifice in Kolkata of the military power of the British Raj in the East. It continues to serve as a citadel of the Indian army in Eastern India. Actually, there were two Fort Williams, the old and the new. The old fort goes back to the early days of the British East India Company. The construction that started in 1701 was completed in 1706, when it was named Fort William, after King William of England.Since the Fort is under the Indian Army, a special entry permit is required.
The Eden Gardens were created in 1840 by the two Eden sisters who were related to the Governor General, Lord Auckland. The idea was to recreate a Biblical - style Garden of Eden in India. In the Garden, the vast expanse dotted with beautiful trees and shrubs is intersected by winding paths. There is a large artificial lake here. Adjoining the lake is the Pagoda which was brought to Calcutta from Burma after the British defeated the Burmese in the war of 1884. This pagoda, set in the centre of the pond, is a special attraction of this scenic garden, a favourite spot among the local people.
This is a memorial dedicated to Queen Victoria, built between 1906-21. The architectural blend of this monument is interesting. The Mogul domes blend beautifully with the Sarcenic and Renaissance styles. There is an interesting museum in the memorial with over 3000 exhibits, including the Queens piano and study desk. It is open on all days of the week except Mondays between 10.00 am to 4.30 pm.
This church is aesthetically very appealing. Its stained glass windows, Florentine frescos, grand altar, a gothic tower produce a profusion of grandeur. It is open from 9.00 am to noon and from 3.00 pm to 6.00 pm.
This massive red sandstone mosque on MG road can hold 10,000 worshippers. It was built in 1926 as an imitation of Akbar's tomb in Agra. The top floor has views of the streets below, which are crowded with stalls selling everything from paperback editions of the Koran to kebabs!.
Located on MG Road, you must have a dekko for its sheer opulence. This palace was the home of a rich Bengali landlord in the 1800s. There are some important statues and paintings on display. There are also beautiful chandeliers, European antiques, Venetian glass, old pianos and blue china vases, which provide an idea of the lifestyle of the rich in the 1800s.
This temple, built in 1867, is ornately decorated with Venetian glass mosaics, chandeliers from Paris and Brussels, a gilded dome, stained glass windows and mirror inlaid pillars. It is open through the week from 6.00 am to noon and from 3.00 pm to 7.00 pm.
This is a popular site for the devout. 6 km south of Sudder Street, this temple is dedicated to Kali, the patron goddess of Kolkata. Kali literally means "black." The tongue of the deity of Kali drips with blood and she wears a garland of skulls. Kali is the destructive aspect of Lord Siva’s consort, Parvati. The present temple was built in 1809 on the site of a much older temple. It is open from 3.00 am to 8.00 pm.
A must-see for those who wish to see what humanism is all about. This has become a major attraction of Kolkata. A visit to this place will give your visit to Kolkata a new perspective. Located near the Kali Temple, the place is a home for hundreds of destitute and "the poorest of the poor" - to quote Mother Teresa herself. You may help the needy with your contributions.
Kolkata is well connected with all the major cities by road, air and railways.
Chowringhee is the center of most airline offices. Kolkata is well connected by air to all major countries in the world, as well as to Indian cities. The air carriers that have flights to and from the city include Aeroflot, Air France, Air India, Biman Bangladesh, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Gulf Air, Indian Airlines, Japan Airlines, Jet Airways, KLM-Royal Dutch Airlines, Royal Jordanian Airlines, Royal Nepal Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways International.
There are many comfortable trains available from Kolkata to other places operating from Howrah station. Kolkata is the Divisional HQs of two zones of Indian Railways .So a number of train services are available from here. Trains are available from all parts of the country to Kolkata. Most inward bound trains stop at Howrah, which is also the station from which major trains to other cities depart. Since Howrah and Sealdah are at a distance from each other, please remember to check which station you need you board your train from, when you buy your ticket.
There are many bus routes that connect Kolkata with other main cities. The most prompt bus services are available from Kolkata to Siliguri, Jalpaiguri (Darjeeling), Orissa, Bihar Etc.
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