Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Kolkatta Travel!

Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. It is situated in eastern India on the eastern bank of the river Hooghly. The city has a population of almost 5 million, with an extended metropolitan population of 14 million, making it the third-largest urban agglomeration and the fourth largest city in India.

The city served as capital of India during the British Raj until 1911th When the center of modern education, science, culture and politics in India, Kolkata witnessed economic stagnation in the years after India's independence in 1947. Since 2000, however, an economic rejuvenation arrested the morbid decline, leading to a spurt in the city's growth.

Like other large cities, Kolkata continues to struggle with urbanization problems such as poverty, pollution and traffic congestion. A vibrant city with a particular social and political culture, Kolkata is known for its revolutionary history, ranging from the Indian struggle for independence to the leftist and trade unionism.

Called the "Cultural Capital of India," "The City of processions" and "City of Joy", Kolkata has been home to estimate drink as Rabindranath Tagore, Ronald Ross, Subhas Chandra Bose, Mother Teresa, Satyajit Ray, Satyendranath Bose, Jagdish Chandra Bose, Swami Vivekananda and many others.

How Kolkata got its name:

The names Kolkata and Calcutta were probably based on Kalikata, the name of one of the three villages (Kalikata, Sutanuti and Gobindapur) in the area before the arrival of the British. "Kalikata", again, is an anglicized version of Kalikshetra ( "Land of the goddess Kali). But there are other theories about the origin of the name.

The original settlement of the city was claimed to be located beside a Khal, which means a channel in Bengali. Khal could have given rise to the name. Again, the place was known for the manufacture of Shell-lime and the name could have been produced from limestone (Kali) and burnt shell (kata).

Alternatively, the name comes from the Bengali term kilkila ( "flat area"). The government in West Bengal changing the official name of the city from Calcutta to Kolkata, the new name was legalized in 2001. Several other Indian cities have adopted similar name changes.

History of Kolkata:

The Government House in colonial Kolkata - when it became known as "City of Palaces". The discovery of the nearby Chandraketugarh, an archaeological site, provides evidence that the area has been inhabited for more than two millennia. The city's documented history, however, begins with the arrival of the British East India Company in 1690 when the company was consolidating its trade business in Bengal. Job Charnock, an administrator with the company eventually settled in Sutanuti to invade through Hijli Kingdom, is traditionally credited with the founding of the city.

In 1699, the British completed the construction of old Fort William, which was used to station its troops and as a regional base. Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) was declared a Presidency City, and later became the headquarters of the Bengal Presidency. Faced with frequent clashes with French forces in 1756 the British began to upgrade their fortifications.

When protests against the militarization of the Nawab of Bengal Siraj-ud-Daulah went unheeded, he attacked and captured Fort William leading to the infamous Black Hole incident. A force of Company Sepoy and British troops under Robert Clive recaptured the city the following year. Clive himself described it as one of the most evil places in the universe.

Kolkata was named the capital of British India in 1772. A contemporary description refers to the splendid laziness and lackluster excesses of European society, where big men rode in the state coaches, with a dozen servants running before and behind them to slam on their titles.

It was during this period that the marshes surrounding the city were drained and the public area was laid out along the banks of the Hooghly River. Richard Wellesley, Governor General between 1797-1805, was largely responsible for the growth of the city and its public architecture which led to the description of Kolkata as the "City of Palaces'. Miss Emily Eden (sister of the Governor General, who gave her name to Eden Gardens), in 1836 wrote in Calcutta:

"Depend on it, Calcutta is the finest place in the world. I know that there are cities with much larger and more magnificent buildings, but they are not half as clean and new and beautiful as this fracture-like city. I have been on roof of the house the last half hour of air, and when it was midnight, had a chance to see all the happy company - returning from an entertainment at Government House, and I can assure you that I never experienced any thing can compare with the exhibited splendor. "

Kolkata port in 1945. It was an important military port during WW2.By beginning of the 19th century, Kolkata was split into two distinct areas - one British, one Indian, known as 'Black Town'. Even at that time was poverty in 'Black Town' Shanti found shocking. The city underwent rapid industrial growth from the 1850s, especially in the textile and jute, which resulted in a massive investment in infrastructure projects like roads, railways and telegraph by British government.

The coalescence of British and Indian culture resulted in the emergence of a new class of urbane Indians - Asia's first middle class, whose members were often professionals, read newspapers, were Anglophiles, and usually belonged to upper caste Hindu society. Throughout the nineteenth century, a socio-cultural reform, often referred to as the Bengal Renaissance resulted in the general uplifting of people. In 1883, Surendranath Banerjea organized a national conference - the first of its kind in nineteenth century India. Gradually Kolkata became a center for the Indian independence movement, especially revolutionary organizations.

1905 Partition of Bengal on communal grounds resulted in widespread public agitation and boycott of British goods (swadeshi movement). These activities, together with the administratively disadvantageous location of Kolkata in the eastern edge of India, got the British to move the capital to Delhi in 1911. The city's port was bombed twice by the Japanese during the Second World War.

As food stocks was diverted to feed Allied troops, millions starved to death during the famine in Bengal in 1943. In 1946 led demands for the establishment of a Muslim state with large communal violence resulting in the deaths of over 2,000 people. 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.

During the 1960s and 1970s, severe shortages, strikes and a violent Marxist-Maoist movement - Naxalites - damaged much of the city's infrastructure, leading to an economic stagnation. In 1971 led war between India and Pakistan to the massive influx of thousands of refugees into Kolkata result in massive pressure on the infrastructure. In the mid-1980s, Mumbai overtook Kolkata as India's most populous city.

Kolkata has been a strong base of Indian communism as West Bengal has been ruled by the CPI (M) dominated Left Front for three decades - the world's longest democratically elected communist government. The city's economic recovery momentum after economic reforms in India introduced by the central government in the mid 1990s. Since 2000 (Information Technology IT services) revitalized the city's stagnant economy. The city has also witnessed a growth in the manufacturing sector. Following similar moves elsewhere in the country, the state government changed the city's official name from Calcutta to Kolkata in 2001, this act was seen largely as a political ploy.

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