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Kolkata Travel Guide:

Introduction
Kolkata is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. Kolkata is the commercial capital of Eastern India, located on the east bank of the Hooghly River. The Kolkata metropolitan area, including suburbs, has a population exceeding 15 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 revolutionary history, ranging from the Indian struggle for independence to the leftist and trade union movements. Once the centre 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 urbanisation problems like poverty, pollution and traffic congestion.

History
The discovery of the nearby Chandraketugarh, an archaeological site, provides evidence that the area has been inhabited for over two millennia. The city's documented history, however, begins with the arrival of the English East India Company in 1690, when the Company was consolidating its trade business in Bengal. Job Charnock, an administrator with the company was traditionally credited as the founder of the city. However some academics have recently challenged the view that Charnock was the founder, and in response to public interest, the High Court ruled in 2003 that the city does not have a specific founder.
In 17th century Kolkata was under direct rule of the Nawab of Bengal Siraj-Ud-Daulah, comprised three villages Kalikata, Gobindapur and Sutanuti. The British in the late 17th century wanted to build a fort near Gobindapur in order to consolidate their power over other foreign powers — namely the Dutch, the Portuguese, and the French. In 1702, the British completed the construction of old Fort William, which was used to station its troops and as a regional base. Calcutta was declared a Presidency City, and later became the headquarters of the Bengal Presidency. Faced with frequent skirmishes with French forces, in 1756 the British began to upgrade their fortifications. When protests against the militarisation by the Nawab of Bengal Siraj-Ud-Daulah went unheeded he attacked and captured Fort William, leading to the infamous Black Hole of Calcutta incident.A force of Company sepoys and British troops led by Robert Clive recaptured the city the following year. Calcutta was named the capital of British India in 1772, and starting in 1864 during the summer months, the capital was temporarily shifted to the hill station of Shimla. In the early 19th century the marshes surrounding the city were drained and the government area was laid out along the banks of the Hooghly River. Richard Wellesley, the Governor General between 1797–1805, was largely responsible for the growth of the city and its public architecture which led to the description of Calcutta as "The City of Palaces". The city was a centre of the British East India Company's opium trade during the late 18th and 19th century.
Horse drawn trams in British Calcutta (now Kolkata), India—Life size model at City Centre arcade
St. Paul's Cathedral was built in Calcutta during the British Raj
By the 1850s, Kolkata was split into two distinct areas — one British (known as the White Town) centred around Chowringhee, the other Indian centred around North Calcutta. The city underwent rapid industrial growth from the early 1850s, especially in the textile and jute industries: this caused massive investment by British companies in infrastructure such as Howrah station and telegraph connections. The coalescence of British and Indian culture resulted in the emergence of a new Babu class of urbane Indians — whose members were often bureaucrats, professionals, newspaper readers, Anglophiles, and usually belonged to upper-caste Hindu communities.Throughout the nineteenth century, a socio-cultural reform, often referred to as the Bengal Renaissance resulted in the general uplifting of the people. In 1883, Surendranath Banerjee organised a national conference — the first of its kind in nineteenth century India. Gradually Calcutta became a centre of the Indian independence movement, especially revolutionary organisations. The 1905 partition of Bengal on communal grounds resulted in widespread public agitation and the boycott of British goods (Swadeshi movement). These activities, along with the administratively disadvantageous location of Calcutta in the eastern fringes of India, prompted the British to move the capital to New Delhi in 1911.
Map of Calcutta during 1784-85.
The city and its port were bombed several times by the Japanese during World War II, the first occasion being 20 December 1942, and the last being 24 December 1944. During the war, millions starved to death during the Bengal famine of 1943, caused by a combination of military, administrative and natural factors. In 1946, demands for the creation of a Muslim state led to large-scale communal violence resulting in the deaths of over 4,000 people. The partition of India also created intense violence and a shift in demographics — large numbers of Muslims left for East Pakistan, while hundreds of thousands of Hindus fled into the city. Over the 1960s and 1970s, severe power shortages, strikes and a violent Marxist-Maoist movement — the Naxalites — damaged much of the city's infrastructure, leading to a period of economic stagnation. In 1971, war between India and Pakistan led to the mass influx of thousands of refugees into Kolkata resulting in a massive strain on its infrastructure.In the mid-1980s, Bombay, now Mumbai, overtook Kolkata as India's most populous city. In 1985 Rajiv Gandhi referred to Kolkata as a "dying city" because of the social and political traumas. Kolkata has been a important base for Communism as West Bengal has been ruled by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M))-dominated Left Front for 34 years now — the world's longest-running democratically elected communist government. The city's economic recovery gathered momentum after economic reforms in India introduced by the central government in the mid-1990s. Since 2000, Information Technology (IT) services have revitalized the city’s stagnant economy. The city is also experiencing a growth in the manufacturing sector.[4

Geography
Kolkata is located in the eastern part India at 22°33'N 88°20'E? / ?22.55°N 88.333°E? / 22.55; 88.333 in the Ganges Delta at an elevation ranging between 1.5 m (5 ft) to 9 m (30 ft). It is spread linearly along the banks of the River Hooghly in a north-south direction. Much of the city was originally a vast wetland, reclaimed over the decades to accommodate the city's burgeoning population. The remaining wetland, known as East Calcutta Wetlands has been designated a "wetland of international importance" under the Ramsar Convention.

Like the most of the Indo-Gangetic plains, the predominant soil type is alluvial. Quaternary sediments consisting of clay, silt, various grades of sand and gravel underlie the city. These sediments are sandwiched between two clay beds, the lower one at depths between 250 m (820 ft) and 650 m (2,133 ft) and the upper one ranging between 10 m (33 ft) and 40 m (131 ft) in thickness. According to the Bureau of Indian Standards, the town falls under seismic zone-III, in a scale of I to V (in order of increasing proneness to earthquakes) while the wind and cyclone zoning is "very high damage risk", according to UNDP report.

Climate
Kolkata has a tropical wet-and-dry climate (Köppen climate classification Aw). The annual mean temperature is 26.8 °C (80.2 °F); monthly mean temperatures range from 19 °C (66.2 °F) to 30 °C (86.0 °F). Summers are hot and humid with temperatures in the low 30's and during dry spells the maximum temperatures often exceed 40 °C (104 °F) during May and June. Winter tends to last for only about two and a half months, with seasonal lows dipping to 9 °C – 11 °C (54 °F – 57 °F) between December and January. The highest recorded temperature is 43.9 °C (111.0 °F) and the lowest is 5 °C (41.0 °F). On an average, May is the hottest month with daily temperatures ranging from a low of 27 °C (80.6 °F) to a maximum of 37 °C (98.6 °F), while January the coldest month has temperatures varying from a low of 12 °C (53.6 °F) to a maximum of 23 °C (73.4 °F). Often during early summer, dusty squalls followed by spells of thunderstorm or hailstorms and heavy rains with ice sleets lash the city, bringing relief from the humid heat. These thunderstorms are convective in nature, and is locally known as Kal baisakhi Nor'westers).

Rains brought by the Bay of Bengal branch of South-West monsoon lash the city between June and September and supplies the city with most of its annual rainfall of 1,582 mm (62 in). The highest rainfall occurs during the monsoon in August—306 mm (12 in). The city receives 2,528 hours of sunshine per annum, with the maximum sunlight occurring in March. Pollution is a major concern in Kolkata, and the Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) level is high when compared to other major cities of India, leading to regular smog and haze. Severe air pollution in the city has caused rise in pollution-related respiratory ailments such as lung cancer.

Kolkata has been devastated by several cyclones, including a 1737 cyclone, which killed thousands of people, and another one in 1864, which killed 60,000 people. Because of its location, its geography, and its population, a category four or five cyclone there today would kill hundreds of thousands of people and cause devastation to many thousands of homes and many skyscrapers and tall buildings in Downtown Kolkata.

Economy
Kolkata is the main business, commercial and financial hub of eastern 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 Rs. 8,772 crore (around 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 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, Peerless Group, United Bank of India, UCO Bank and Allahabad Bank. 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.

Etymology
The name Kolkata and the anglicised name Calcutta have their roots in Kalikata, the name of one of the three villages (Kalikata, Sutanuti, Govindapur) in the area before the arrival of the British. "Kalikata", in turn, is believed to be a version of Kalikshetra Kalikkhetro "Land of [the goddess] Kali"). Alternatively, the name may have been derived from the Bengali term kilkila ("flat area"). Again, the name may have its origin in the indigenous term for a natural canal, Khal, followed by Katta (which may mean dug). There is also another theory that the place used to specialize in quicklime (kali chun) and coir rope (kátá) and hence the place was called Kalikátá.
Thus the city's name was always pronounced "Kolkata" or "Kolikata" in the local Bengali language, its official English name was changed from "Calcutta" to "Kolkata" in 2001, reflecting the Bengali pronunciation. Some view this as a move to erase the legacy of British rule. This change has not always been reflected by overseas media, but news sources like the BBC have opted to call Bombay Mumbai and Calcutta Kolkata

Sports
The most followed sports in Kolkata are football and cricket, the latter rose in popularity only after the star native cricket player, Sourav Ganguly started playing for the Indian Team and even became the most successful captain. Kolkata, a major centre of football activity in India and home of top national football clubs such as Mohun Bagan AC, Chirag United S.C., Mohammedan Sporting Club and East Bengal, is known as Mecca of Indian Football. Calcutta Football League, which started in 1898, is the oldest football league in Asia. Mohun Bagan AC, one of the oldest football clubs in Asia, is the only club to be entitled 'National Club of India'. Kolkata is also home to Kolkata Knight Riders IPL cricket team franchise.
As in the rest of India, cricket is extremely popular and is played throughout the city in its grounds and streets. Tournaments, especially those involving outdoor games like cricket, football, and badminton or indoor games like carrom are regularly organized on an inter-locality or inter-club basis. The maidan area hosts several minor football and cricket clubs and coaching institutes.
Notable sports stars from Kolkata include former Indian national cricket captains Sourav Ganguly and Pankaj Roy, as well as current players Laxmi Ratan Shukla and Manoj Tiwary. Olympic tennis bronze medallist Leander Paes. Former football stars include Sailen Manna, Chuni Goswami, P.K. Banerjee, and Subrata Bhattacharya.
The city is known for its large stadia. The Eden Gardens is one of only two 100,000-seat cricket stadiums in the world. It hosted final of 1987 World Cup but was stripped of matches in 2011 to building issues. It is home to Bengal cricket team and Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL. Salt Lake Stadium (also known as Yuva Bharati Krirangan)—a multi-use stadium—is the world's second largest capacity football stadium. Calcutta Cricket and Football Club is the second-oldest cricket club in the world. Kolkata has three 18-hole golf courses at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (the first golf club in the world outside Britain), Tollygunge Club and Fort William. The Royal Calcutta Turf Club (RCTC) holds regular equestrian races and polo matches. The Calcutta Polo Club is now considered as the oldest polo club of the world. The Calcutta South Club is the venue for some national and international tennis tournaments. From 2005, Sunfeast Open, a Tier-III tournament of Women's Tennis Association Tour, takes place in Netaji Indoor Stadium. The Calcutta Rowing Club hosts regular rowing races and training. Although it is a minor sport, Kolkata is considered the "capital" of rugby union in India. The city also gives its name to the name of the oldest international tournament in rugby union, the Calcutta Cup, which is of Indian workmanship.

Education
Kolkata's schools are either run by the state government or by private (many of which are religious) organisations. Schools mainly use Bengali or English as the medium of instruction, though Urdu is also used, especially in Central Kolkata. The schools are affiliated with the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education, the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE), the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE), the National Institute of Open School (NIOS) and the A-Level (British Curriculum). Under the 10+2+3 plan, after completing their secondary education, students typically enroll in a 2 year junior college (also known as a pre-university) or in schools with a higher secondary facility affiliated with West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education, ICSE or CBSE. Students usually choose from one of three streams — liberal arts, commerce, or science, though vocational streams are also available. Upon completing the required coursework, students may enrol in general or professional degree programmes.

Culture
Kolkata has long been known for its literary, artistic and revolutionary heritage. As the former capital of India, Kolkata was the birthplace of modern Indian literary and artistic thought. Kolkatans tend to have a special appreciation for art and literature; its tradition of welcoming new talent has made it a City of Furious Creative Energy.[100] For these reasons, Kolkata has often been dubbed as the Cultural Capital of India or the Literary Capital of India.[101]

A characteristic feature of Kolkata is the para or neighbourhoods having a strong sense of community. Typically, every para has its own community club with a clubroom and often, a playing field. People here habitually indulge in adda or leisurely chat, and these adda sessions are often a form of freestyle intellectual conversation.[102] The city has a tradition of political graffiti depicting everything from outrageous slander to witty banter and limericks, caricatures to propaganda.

Affiliations :   taafi iato adtoi irctc aitp nct Delhi nid