Calcutta, an ancient city, which has seen history, unfolds itself in front of her. A city, which has completed three hundred years of its establishment. Calcutta, which had the privilege of being the capital of British India before it was shifted to Delhi. Calcutta, a city, which has adapted to the modern trends and techniques of the world but has not shed the leisurely life style and the calm, which it, has accumulated since ages. A city, which till few years ago was the most densely, populated city in the world. Calcutta has the country's first Metro railway and also retains some of the building, which is more than hundred year old. It is a city of enduring charm.
In 1696, the establishment of Fort Williams marked the birth of a new city, Calcutta. It derived its name from Kalikatta, one of the villages, which was incorporated in the new settlement of Britishers. Calcutta has since developed from a fishermen’s' village to become one of the largest cities in the world. Being the capital of the British till 1912, the architecture here is a medley of occidental and oriental styles. Today the city symbolizes creativity and vibrancy with all the modern amenities available.
Calcutta is a city with strong cultural, literary and religious flavors. This is the home of many of India's leaders. Activities in the field of fine arts, music, dance; theatre and writing make the city a happening place. The calm of the Hooghly combined with the rush of people in the streets make Calcutta a city to visit. It is the city, which acts as the gateway to the Northeast and has been coming up as a major commercial city in the nation.
Calcutta one of the places, which is famous as shopper’s paradise. The markets here are full of items, which can be taken home as decorative pieces, or gift items. Calcutta has been attracting the tourist attention for its handicrafts. The 'Tant' sarees are the specialty of West Bengal and Calcutta provides you the best market for the purchase these sarees. The Tant sarees are popular not only among the Bengali women but are liked all over India for their unique appearance and colours. Calcutta offers great bargains in items made from cotton and handloom. The famed Baluchari work is something, which every traveller to this place looks for. The silk from West Bengal is a shoppers delight. Tantuja is the retail outlet for the West Bengal State Handloom Weavers Co-operative Society limited, which offers you a variety of hand-woven classics. Though the real pleasure of shopping in Calcutta is on the roadside shops, which surprisingly come up with good stuff, there are the big names and showrooms, which provide the customer with the latest fashion wears and dress material. The government owned emporiums give good offer in handicrafts and other decorative items. The Bankura Horse is easily identifiable and captures the imagination. Brass figurines can also be included in the shoppers list. The leatherwears are very cheap and durable. Calcutta is also famous for the jewellery. There are very old as well as new shops in the heart of the city, which offer you good quality gold & silver jewellery and ornaments. The intricate work on the jewellery items attracts buyers far and wide. The China Town in Calcutta is famous for the Chinese (imported) goods. This place gives a Chinese experience if one walks down the lanes. The Fancy market is provides the Grey market in the city. Calcutta is located at a point where river Hooghly merges into the sea. In fact the whole region is part the great Gangetic delta. The climate of Calcutta is very much influenced by the sea. The daily tidal waves and the frequent rains accompanied by high velocity winds has now become a part of life in the city. Calcutta has a very tropical type of climate with the summers being hot and humid. The sweaty, sultry climate may causes dehydration and uneasiness. The temperature seldom crosses the 43-degree barrier and in winter rarely goes below 8 degrees. But it is raining through out the year. The best season to come to Calcutta is between September and March.
The former capital of East India Company and at present the state capital of India is well connected and easily accessible from anywhere in India and abroad. The Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Airport (Dum airport) serves domestic as well as the International needs of this region. This airport is not only connected to the major cities of India but is also the transit point for the South East Asian nations and Australia. All the major Airlines have their flights to this city. Calcutta is well connected with all corners of the country. The two railway stations of Howrah and Sealdah serve all the needs of the city. From here one can board trains to Southern India upto Kanyakumari, Jammu in the North, Gandhinagar and Mumbai in the West and Guwahati in the Northeast. Apart from the long distance trains there are plenty of local trains which connects the city with the near by areas. Within the city there is a good network of tram system, which is probably the oldest in India.
Just as the city is well connected by Air: and by trains it also has good road communication with all corners of the country. The Grand Trunk road connects Calcutta with Amritsar. This national highway was built by Sher Shah Suri to promote and facilitate trade and commerce from the city with other parts of India. The purpose has been well served and till date the GT road acts as the backbone of the trade and commuting in India. Other national highways also connect the city with other areas. Calcutta has regular bus service from various places within the state, as well as there are services to places in Bihar, Orissa and Assam. The state transport as well as private operators runs the bus services. Calcutta also has the distinction of having an inland water transport system. Though the Hooghly is a very badly silted river there are ferry and boat services from the near by places but this service has been restricted mainly to carry goods. There has been a proposal to link Calcutta with Patna via the Hooghly and Ganga.
SIGHTSEEING IN CALCUTTA
The Gardens -
To consolidate their hold on Bengal and avoid any further attack on the trade establishments the British had built a fort, which cost them an awesome 2 million pounds in those days. The forest around this fort was cleared to give a clear shot to the cannons. Today the fort stands as the reminder of first steps of British towards establishment of the Indian empire. The cleared area is now known as the Maiden and acts as breather for the, otherwise, congested city.
An artificial lake was built towards south of the city. Today this lake serves as venue for the hosting of various competitions in swimming and boating. Beside the lake is a sports complex, which is meant for training sportsmen in various disciplines. In the idyllic surroundings is set a Yoga centre for meditation and beautiful parks are meant for walks.
Victoria Memorial -
A splendid example of British architecture, this building was built in memory of Queen Victoria and was inaugurated by Prince of Wales in 1921. The Memorial is based on architecture of the Taj and is built in marble.
Birla Planetarium -
One the earliest planetariums in India, the Birla Planetarium in Calcutta is a major tourist attraction. The planetarium was opened in 1961 and the cost of completion came to about 2 crores. The capacity of the auditorium is 500 and there are daily film shows. These shows are in different languages. Inside the planetarium you can relax and gaze at the stars which are better seen here than in the polluted atmosphere out side. The planetarium gives complete information about the Universe and our solar systems. The models kept here are special attraction for the children.
Indian Museum -
This museum was established in 1878. The museum is built in Italian architectural style and is considered as the largest museum in the country and one of the best in Asia.
Shahid Minar -
A combination of Turkish, Egyptian and Syrian architectural elements, this monument was built in 1828 and was named after Sir David Ochterlony who won the Nepal war of 1814. It was renamed as Sahid Minar and is located on Northern part of the Maiden. Height of the column is 48m. From the top of the Minar a good view of the city can be obtained but permission to ascend the tower has to be taken from the police headquarters in Lal Bazaar.