(Formerly Calcutta), the capital of
West Bengal and the nerve centre of the eastern part of India, is, with over
10.5 million inhabitants, the largest city in India and second only to London
in the world. Once the capital of British India it was the hub of the Raj's
business and industry, as well as being the city where the fashionable thronged
It is still an important centre of art and culture - the
country's foremost painters, writers, musicians and dancers and playwrights
hail from this part of India.
Kolkata University is probably the oldest in
India (not considering ancient ones like Nalanda University) and has fostered
many famous scientists, scholars, educationists, economists and statesmen. Nobel
Prize winners C.V. Raman and Satyen Bose were students of Kolkata University.
Situated on College street facing College square, the new sky scraper building
has replaced the historical senate house.
Kolkata is located at the
mouth of an estuary, where the river Hooghly enters the Bay of Bengal. The climate
is hot and humid with a short-lived winter and a long and heavy monsoon. The
character of Kolkata is essentially British Raj, especially the older areas,
with their splendid classical buildings, gardens, parks and squares.
of the city, Dalhousie Square, renamed Benoy-Badal-Dinesh Bagh, is a busy quadrangle
with a water body in the centre, and surrounded by imposing, intricately detailed
colonial buildings - the General Post Office, Life Insurance Building, Bank
Head-offices, Government Offices and Mercantile Houses - that are reminiscent
of the business district in London. Around the square the pavements and roads
reverberate with the unending flow of traffic and people - the city is notorious
for crowds traffic snarls.
Nearby, the High Court, one of the oldest in India,
(1872) is built in characteristic Gothic style, complete with a 54m high tower.
But pride of place (geographically and historically) belongs to Chowringhee,
the wide, business avenue of fashionable shops, cinemas, restaurants and offices,
facing the green meadows of the Maidan.
The Maidan is the lung of the city and
again, is a legacy of British town planning. Like Hyde Park, it stretches over
a vast expanse right in the centre of the city, and is dotted with tanks, monuments,
clubs and exhibition spots where numerous events take place round the year.
It is the venue of the city's favourite sports - cricket and football, and in
season the visitor can see several spirited matches taking place.