The largest metropolis in
India, Calcutta is a vibrant city on the move, volatile and
unpredictable. The Gateway to India, till 1912, and the capital of the
Raj in India, it still bears the Victorian imprint on its streets and
structures. A city just about ready to burst at the seams, Calcutta is
home to more than 10 million people. The Ganges (called the Hooghly in
Calcutta) is still the inspiration, as it was to Job Charnok, East
India Company agent, who reached the shores in August 1690, to found
the city. Calcutta, after London, was the British Empireís second
Calcutta, on-the-Hooghly, retains the aura of days long gone, weaving
the past and the present, the intense and the funloving into a
Home to four Nobel laureates - Ronald Ross, Rabindranath Tagore,
Mother Teresa and Amartya Sen, Calcutta is the nerve centre of
intellect and human values, where many modern movements began in art,
cinema and theatre, science and industry. Indiaís quest for freedom
Calcutta is the gateway to Eastern India. A city with a rich heritage,
bustling streets and bewildering variety of facets. From October to
March, Calcutta wears a radiant look. Sunshine, mild winter, lights,
colours, fairs, festivals, galas and excursions, the mood is
infectious and spirit sweeping.
It is the commercial nerve-centre of the East, with major industrial
plants, textile mills and corporate units. Regal edifices, grubby
alleys, bustling bazaars, elegant hotels, people from all walks of
life - Calcutta has it all.
The city is a hub of fervent activity in the realms of music, theatre,
arts, and sports. Calcutta has always prided itself on the many
luminaries it has sent forth, be it Tagore, Satyajit Ray, or Mrinal
Sen. The intense dedication to the arts manifests itself in a plethora
of festivals, dance, music performances and other cultural events. The
Calcuttans are also famous for their all-consuming passion for sports,
especially, football and cricket.
Attractions in the City
Victoria Memorial :
Victoria Memorial is a splendid architectural structure in white
marble, modeled on the Taj Mahal. It was built in the early 20th
century, in memory of Queen Victoria and was formally inaugurated by
the Prince of Wales in 1921. The noble bronze statue of the queen near
the entrance, the brass canons, wrought iron street lamps, manicured
lawns, gardens and pathways, the magical lighting effect in the
evening and a fairy tale 'Fountain of Joy' facing the memorial
building create an atmosphere of unforgettable charm.
Eden Gardens :
In the North-West corner of the Maidan are small & pleasantly laid
out Eden Gardens. The gardens were created in 1840 and named after the
sister of Lord Auckland, the former governor general. This lovely
garden is dotted with beautiful trees and shrubs, intersected by
winding paths, and there is a large artificial lake also. Alongside
the gardens, is the world famous Eden Gardens cricket stadium. Near
the gardens you can take a pleasant walk along the bank of Hoogly
Birla Planetarium :
Birla planetarium, near the government of India tourist office, is
one of the largest in the world and is located on Kolkata's Eastern
metropolitan bypass. It is one of its kind in India. There are shows
in English everyday. Set amidst trees and lawns, here one explore the
mysteries of science.
Kali Temple :
The Kali temple was rebuilt in 1809 on the site of a much older
temple, Kalighat, the actual temple from which Kolkata takes its name.
This temple is dedicated to Goddess Kali, who represents the
destructive side of Siva's consort and demands daily sacrifices. This
is an extremely busy temple. Mother Teresa's Hospital for the dying
destitute is situated right next door to the temple.
Howrah Bridge :
Howrah bridge is one of three bridges on the river Hooghly. It is
regarded as the most famous symbol of not only Kolkata but also West
Bengal. Until 1943, the Hooghly River was crossed by a pontoon bridge
which had to be opened to let river traffic through. There was
considerable opposition to construction of a bridge due to fears that
it would affect the river currents and cause silting problems. But
this problem was eventually avoided by building a bridge that crosses
the river in a single 450m span, the bridge has no pylons at all
within the river. Other places of interest
Sunderbans Tiger Reserve :
Located around 166 km from Kolkata is Sunderbans, a large unbroken
swamp criss-crossed by a network of rivers, channels and creeks at the
mouth of rivers, the Ganga and the Brahmputra. Sunderbans spreads over
an area of 1,629 sq. km and was declared a reserve between 1928 and
1943. This marshy land is famous for Royal Bengal tigers and other
variety of marine life which include the salt water crocodile, Olive
Ridley turtle, Leopards and the fishing cats.
Shantiniketan is located 211 km from Kolkata. At Shantiniketan, an
ashram was founded by Maharshi Debendranath, father of Rabindranath
Tagore in 1863 AD. Almost 40 years later, Rabindranath started an
open-air school at Shantiniketan. It gradually developed into an
international university named Visva Bharti where the cultures of the
East and the West meet in common fellowship. Thereby strengthening the
fundamental conditions of world peace.
Ganga Sagar :
The Ganga Sagar is an important cultural and religious
destination. It also has an outstanding beach for tourists, which is
situated on the island in the Sunderbans. It holds the charm of a
completely unspoilt beach on the estuary of the mighty Ganga. One can
reach Ganga Sagar from Kolkata by bus.
Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture :
Commemorates the birth centenary of Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa.
Religious discourses and cultural exchanges are held here among
international scholars. The institute is located at Golpark.
Nakhoda Mosque :
Modelled on Akbarís tomb in Sikandra, the red sandstone mosque has
two minarets 46 mts high, a brightly painted onion shaped dome and can
accommodate 10,000 people. Built in 1926 and located on Chitpur Road.
St. Johnís Church :
Built in 1787 with Grecian columns. The burial ground has the
mausoleum of Job Charnok, founder of Calcutta. On the north-west side
of Raj Bhavan.
Kolkata Fairs & Festivals
Durga Puja :
The most important and the most popular of all Bengali festivals
is the Durgapuja. It is celebrated throughout the state, but with
great grandeur in Calcutta. There are some ancestral houses in
Calcutta where Durgapuja is being observed over decades and even over
centuries. More Details ....
Iskcon Rathayatra :
Rathayatra is celebrated all over the State, but the one on a
grand scale in Calcutta is organised by the International Society for
Krishna Consciousness. Three Chariots of Lord Jagannath, Balaram and
Subhadra are taken out of their temple on Albert Road to the strip of
Maidan bordering the Victoria Memorial. After seven days, these are
taken back again to the temple.
Botanical Gardens :
Located 8 kms from Calcutta on the west bank of Ganga are the famous
Botanical Gardens.The highlight of the Gardens is the 200 year old
banyan tree, said to be the largest in the world.The tree is 26 metres
high with a circumference of approximately 900 feet. The world's
largest estuarine forest in the world, the Sunderbans, the habitat of
the Royal Bengal Tiger, which also houses the estuarine crocodile,
wild boar and several varieties of birds and snakes, is within easy
reach of Calcutta. This famous Project Tiger Reserve can be approached
only via the waterways.
185 km south east of Calcutta is Digha, a popular beach resort with a 6 km
long beach, said to be one of the widest in the world. The other
popular beach resort of West Bengal, Bakkhali, lies 132 km from the
city. 48 km south of Calcutta is the beautiful Diamond Harbour, at the
mouth of the Hooghly, an ideal picnic spot. 12 km from the city
centre, on the banks of the Ganga, is the magnificent Dakshineswar
Temple, dedicated to Goddess Kali . 136 km from the city is the one -
of - its - kind university of Shantiniketan, the brainchild of the
revered Rabindranath Tagore. Started as an experimental open air
classroom, this university has emerged as a universal centre of
knowledge and academic excellence, for students and scholars alike.