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Destinatons of India » Kolkata

About Kolkata

Kolkata, a city that means many things to many people. For some, Kolkata is the city of joy, while for others it is dirty, crowded, and noisy. Once the greatest colonial city in the Orient, Kolkata was later reviled as a cauldron of poverty, dirt, and disease. Today, it ranks among the four major metropolis of India along with Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai. A mere village in the 17th century, Kolkata is not an ancient city like Delhi. Like Mumbai and Chennai, it originated largely due to the expansionist ambitions of the European powers, especially the British Raj. Little wonder, Kolkata has some of the finest Raj edifices built in a variety of styles.

The first capital of the British in India, Kolkata does not have an ancient history like Delhi. The city was established in 1686 when British moved to the small villages of Sutanati, Govindpur, and Kalikata from their trading port of Hooghly. The city got its name from the last of the settlements mentioned above. The city progressed well until 1756 when Siraj-Ud-Daula (Nawab of Bengal) attacked the town and drove away the British. Lord Clive retook Kolkata and until 1911, Kolkata remained the capital of the British government in India. Being the center of power for so long created a unique culture and heritage of the city, totally unlike any other city of India. The people here are proud of their culture and can go to any length to defend it. The humanity of the city can be felt only through visiting the place and not by reading.

Location

The metropolitan city of Kolkata in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal extends between the latitude 22°82' N and longitude 88°20' E. The city is well connected to the other cities of India through train, bus, and air services. Most of the countries in the Asia have flight links to the city.

Best Time to Visit

As Kolkata is near the sea, the city has uniform temperature throughout the year. The temperature ranges from 12-27°C in the winter and 24-38°C in the summer. Annual rainfall is around 160 cm. Humidity level can be very high in the summers and can make one's life difficult.

Climate

Kolkata is located in the far east of Indian sub continent and close to the sea, Bay of Bengal. The weather of the city as such is greatly influenced by the adjoining sea. The place enjoys a sub tropical climate. The temperature in summers can reach to a maximum of 41 ° C. The minimum recorded temperature during winters stands as low as 9 °C. Kolkata receives surplus rainfall during monsoons. The outpour is due to summer monsoons yeilding into a good rainfall.

Transportation

  • Air: The airport in Kolkata is situated at Dumdum, around 17 km northeast of the city center. Most of the domestic airlines have direct services to and from Kolkata to other important cities of India such as Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Patna, Varanasi, Lucknow, etc. Kolkata provides direct flights to most of the countries in the Southeast Asia.
  • Rail: The city has two major railway stations-one at Howrah and the other one at Sealdah. Trains from the other parts of the country connect Kolkata. Super-fast trains such as Rajdhani Express and Shatabdi Express connect the city to Delhi and nearby cities such as Bokaro and Rourkela. Coromandel Express and Gitanjali Express connect Kolkata to Chennai and Mumbai respectively.
  • Road: Kolkata is connected with most of the Indian cities by road. The Esplanade Terminus in the heart of the city is the main bus terminus. A new development is the starting of the Dhaka-Kolkata bus service. The buses are colorful, air-conditioned and comfortable.

Attractions in Kolkata

Eden Garden

Eden Garden is the oldest cricket ground in India and is also considered one of the finest in the world. It was created in 1840 and named after the sister of Lord Auckland, the former governer general. The idea was to make a Biblical - style garden of Eden in India. The expanse dotted with beautiful trees and shrubs is intersected by winding paths, and there is a large artificial lake. Adjoining the lake is the Pagoda which was brought to Kolkata from Burma after the British defeated the Burmese in the war of 1884. Near the garden you can take a pleasant walk along the bank of hooghly river.

Eden Gardens has an exclusiveness of its own. Ethereal and elusive the enduring charm of Eden Gardens has lent an aura of its own on cricketers past and present, young and old, competitive and friendly. Endearing and enchanting, the emerald green carpet and the earnest crowd have held tough men in flannels spellbound.

People who come here for chilling out are fascinated by its beauty and freshness. Even the habitu's of the park are obsessed with this groovy pagoda - a structure of mystic beauty. In 1852, this pagoda was first established in Prome, a city in Burma by Ms. Mannikin, a Burmese lady. The chief architect of this splendiferous pagoda was Mong Hue. He was ably assisted in this task by ten skilled carpenters. The work was completed within three months. It cost Rs1500 in those days. Built of exquisite Burmese segoon, the pagoda housed an idol of Gandhasa, whose forehead was studded with several precious jewels. Such a pagoda is called Taza-Ung.

Inside the Garden

Rows of benches are arranged inside the garden. Perched on the wooden benches, the elderly couples can often be seen ruminating. Young and romantic couples come here in search of some rare moments of undiluted, pure pleasure in the bosom of nature. People are also found lolling on the carpet of lush green grass under the cool shadows of the enveloping trees. Some are also found relaxing by the side of the pond in front of the pagoda. Indeed, this is a wonderful place for heaving a sigh of relief in a dull and sultry afternoon and enjoying a tryst with nature.

Dakshineswar Temple

The construction of the temple started in 1847. Queen Rasmani the renowned queen of Janbazar, had founded this temple. It is believed that she was instructed by Goddess Kali in her dream to construct this temple.

The construction work was completed in 1855. It cost an estimated Rs. 9 lakhs of which, Rs. 2 lakhs was spent on the day of inauguration. The temple and its adjoining areas stand on 25 acres of land. Queen Rasmani purchased the required land from some Mr. Hasti.

Dakshineswar temple is dedicated to goddess Kali. The temple, in conventional Nava-ratna style, measures 46 feet square and rises over 100 feet high. It is one of the largest temples of Kolkata.

The main attraction of the temple is that the Ganga (Hooghly river) flows beside the temple. The 12- spired temple with its enormous courtyard is surrounded by 12 other temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is a world famous place of pilgrimage and it was here that the famous religious thinker Rama Krishna Paramahamsa achieved his spiritual vision and preached the unity of all religions. He was an worshipper at this temple and he used to live in the temple premises. His room is open to the visitor.

The temple is a large elongated building standing on a high platform with a flight of stairs. The three-storeyed south-facing temple has nine spires distributed in upper two storeys. The roof of the spires is beautifully ridged resembling Pirhas. A narrow covered verandah serves the purpose of an audience-chamber attached to the sanctum where the goddess Dakshina Kali stands on the breast of Shiva. There is a long spacious Natmandir (Dancing hall) in front of the temple. There are other subsidiary shrines on this temple compound.

The colossal kali temple is known to be one of the rare temples of Indian origin, having world renowned fame.

Around the Temple

To the north of the Kali-temple is a Dalan of Radha-Krisna. To the west, twelve Siva temples of Bengali atchala style stand in rows on the Hughli river with a 'chandni-bathing ghat', which is flanked by these Siva temples, six each on either side. The temple compound on three sides - north, east and south - are enclosed by rows of guestrooms and offices.

Howrah Bridge

Popularly known as the Rabindra Setu, Howrah Bridge is an engineering marvel and is counted amongst the busiest cantilever bridge in the World. Observing a daily traffic of about 60,000 vehicles and innumerable pedestrians, Howrah bridge have equalled its position to Sydney Harbor Bridge. But the later can never dream of such a traffic. The bridge connects Kolkata and Howrah and is the lifeline of the city. The best way to enjoy its stately beauty is to view it from the middle of the river.

Constructed in 1939 and the bridge was opened to traffic in 1943 which cost as estimated Rs.333 crores, built from 26,500 tons of steel. It is a sort of 'Cantilever bridge'. In it cantilevers project from piers and are connected by girders. Erected during World War II to give Allied troops access to the Burmese front, replacing an earlier pontoon bridge that opened to let river traffic through.

Essentially, it had two portions. For the convenient plying of man and traffic, the pool was connected as a whole. However, the bridge was unfastened everyday, particularly during night for steamers, boats and other aquatic vehicles to ply. From 19th August, 1879, the bridge was illuminated by fixing electric poles at the centre. This was done by using the electricity rendered from the dynamo at the Mallick Ghat Pumping Station. The Bridge was then 1528 ft. long and 62 ft. wide. On both sides were pavements 7 ft. wide for the sake of pedestrians. The 48 ft. road in between, was for plying of traffic.

Saheed Minar

The enchanting Saheed Minar of Kolkata is made on similar lines of famous Qutub Minar of Delhi and forms an important landmark of Kolkata. Popularly known as the Octerloney Monument, the minar was built in 1848 by Sir David Ochterlony to commemorate his victory in the Nepal War (1814-1816).

The construction of the monument encompasses an architectural variety. The foundation followed an Egyptian style whereas the body of the Minar and the dome resembled Syrian and Turkish designs respectively. The Minar is 158 ft. High with two balconies at the top. One can reach the balcony by using the serpentile staircase. 198 stairs lead from the bottom to the first balcony. From here 25 more stairs lead to the second balcony.

It was named Sahid Minar in 1969 in the memory of the brave patriots who sacrified their lives for the freedom of India. Different political parties convene meetings, rallies and seminars behind the Shahid Minar at present.

The custom of convening political seminars started in 1931 when a historical convocation took place here which was presided by Rabindranath Tagore. The humanitarian poet had severely condemned the vandalism of the imperialist British Government which had shot a youth dead in the Calabooze in Hizli. Few years ago, the dome of the 'Minar' was coloured which kicked off a storm of protest.

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.

Indian Museum

The Kolkata Indian Museum established long back in 1814 in the Asiatic Society Building was founded by Dr. Nathaniel Wallich, a botanist from Denmark. It is one of the earliest museums established in the world and considered the largest and best museum in the country. In 1875, it was shifted to the new building in Italian architectural style designed by Walter B Grawille.

Opened to public in 1878, the museum has over 60 galleries and is divided into six main sectors of Art, Anthropology, Archaeology, Geology, Industry and Zoology. The museum with 3 floors is spread out over an area of 930 sq.mts. It is an independent institution funded by the Government of India.

Nicco Park

Joining the modern stream of theme parks, Nico Park is the Disneyland for Kolkattans with its various adventure rides. Popularly known as Jheel Meel. Opened in 1991, Nicco park is one of the biggest amusement parks in the country and has innovative entertainment for all age group. This amusement park offers wholesome fun for children as well as adults and draws crowds from suburban Kolkata especially on the weekends.

Nicco Park is a wonderful place for picnics or freaking out with kith and kin. It is a feast for the eyes of the nature lovers. There is an exquisite Rose Garden and a large Food Park which sells mouth-watering North Indian, Bengali, South Indian and Chinese fast food. The nature lover would simply love to recline on the bed of soft green grass and watch the clear and mackerel sky above. There are severel Kiosks in the park run by reputed restaurants of Kolkata which cater to all tastes with its multitude of palatable cuisines.

Today, Nicco Park in Kolkata enjoys the proud distinction of being the first amusement park in the world to obtain ISO 9002 certification from a well-known European Certifying Authority.

There are a wide variety of rides to choose from, with the Toy Train, Cable Car, Tilt-a-Whirl, Water Chute, Water Coaster, Flying Saucer, Pirate Ship and Moonraker being the popular ones. The Cave Ride is the latest addition and is the only of its kind in this part of the world.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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