Kolkata,originally known as Calcutta, is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. Located on the east bank of the Hooghly river, it is the principal commercial, cultural, and educational centre of East India, while the Port of
as well as its sole major riverine port. As of 2011, the city had 4.5 million residents; the urban agglomeration, which comprises the city and its suburbs, was home to approximately 14.1 million, making it the 3rd most populous metropolitan area in India.
Kolkata served as the capital of India until 1911, when its perceived geographical disadvantages, combined with growing nationalism in Bengall
, led to a shift of the capital to New Delhi. The city was the centre of the Indian independence movement; it remains a hotbed of contemporary state poilitics. 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 arrested the morbid decline, leading to a spurt in the city's growth. Like other large cities, Kolkata continues to struggle with urbanisation problems like poverty, pollution and traffic congestion.
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 British East India Company in 1690, when the Company was consolidating its trade business in Bengal. Job Charnock, an administrator with the Company who eventually settled in Sutanuti after invading through Hijli Kingdom, was traditionally credited as the founder of this city, however, recently experts have endorsed the view that Charnock was not the founder of the city.
Independent India has crossed 50 years and these five decades have seen many miracles. Kolkata has grown, remains a city of contrasts, a mix-up of light and shade, a strange medley of ancient and modern, skyscrapers and Victorian edifices, heaven of the rich and the poor as seldom found anywhere in the world.
There is so much to see in this incredible city. A million people from every corner of India stream across the massive Howrah Bridge, swarm around the Hooghly river, flock along the busy avenues, through its narrow lanes. Then you arrive at the great expanse of the Maidan, the heart of Kolkata .
Fort William, Victoria Memorial, Raj Bhavan, Palladian villas and the Botanical Gardens, the busy streets of Shyambazar, College Street and Kalighat, bookshops, art galleries, coffee houses all are part of Kolkata 's varied and vibrant shades, the birthplace of Rabindranath Tagore and cradle of the Indian Renaissance.
Kolkata 's fascination defies analysis. It is an addiction, an affair of the mind and heart. Anyone who has lived here can never be happy anywhere else in the world.