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.
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.
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.
- 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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.