One of the
largest cities in India, Kolkata has a population
of 4,580,544 (2001 census) in the city proper,
and a metropolitan area population of 14,681,589.
It is the capital of the State of West Bengal.
Calcutta was founded as a
trading post by the British East
India Company in 1690.
As the Company's profits grew, so, too, did
Calcutta. Fort William was completed in 1702, and
the city became the headquarters of the Bengal
Presidency several years later. During the 18th
and 19th centuries, the city served as the center
of the East India Company's opium trade.
In 1756, after protests against
the militarization of Bengal by the Nawab of
Bengal, Siraj-Ud-Daulah, went unheeded, he
attacked and captured Fort William. The fort and
city were recaptured by a force of Company sepoys
and British troops under Robert Clive the
Calcutta became the capital of
British India in 1773. From the 1850's on, the
British invested heavily in the city's
infrastructure, and by 1900 Calcutta ranked
second only to London as the largest city in the
British Empire. That growth was stymied, however,
after the British government moved the capital to
Delhi in 1912.
Calcutta's fortunes continued to decline
during and after World War II.
Its port was bombed by the Japanese twice during
the war, and massive diversion of food stocks to
feed Allied troops led to millions of starvation
deaths in 1943. In 1946, demands for the creation
of a Muslim state led to massive violence that
left more than 2,000 dead. The city lost hundreds
of thousands of citizens following the partition
of India in 1947, with huge numbers of Muslims
moving to East Pakistan and equally huge numbers
of Hindus fleeing to other parts of India.
Although Calcutta saw some very
tough times through the 1950's, 60's, and 70's,
major government projects have made inroads into
the city's pollution, overcrowding, and traffic
problems. The city's name was officially changed
to Kolkata in 2001.
The Kolkata Municipal
Corporation (KMC) is responsible for civic
maintenance and infrastructure within the city
limits. The city is divided into 141
administrative wards, each of which elects a
councillor to KMC. The wards are grouped into 15
boroughs, each of which has a committee
consisting of councillors elected from the
respective borough wards.
Calcutta elects 3
representatives to the National Assembly, and 21
to the state Legislative Assembly.
Calcutta is a major commercial
and military port, and is the only city in the
region with an international airport -- Netaji
Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport.
Information technology has become a major part of
the city's economy, along with the manufacture of
goods ranging from electronics to jute.
Institutions of higher
education in Calcutta include: the University of Calcutta (founded in 1857), Bengal Engineering
and Science University, West Bengal University of
Technology, Jadavpur University, Rabindra Bharati
University, Bangla Academy (a center of Bengali
literature), Calcutta Medical College, Presidency
College, St. Xavier's College, and Women's
Teachers Training College.
The Asiatic Society, founded by
Sir William Jones in 1784, is still a famous
center of Indology, literature, and scientific
research. Its library contains about 20,000
volumes, including about 8,000 rare Sanskrit,
Arabic, Persian, and Hindi manuscripts.
Bangiya Sahitya Parishad is a
library that preserves ancient manuscripts of
The National Library of India
is India's leading public library. The second
largest library in Asia, it houses more than 1
million books and 5 million manuscripts.
Other major educational and
research institutions in Calcutta include: Bose
Institute, Centre for Studies in Social Sciences
at Calcutta, Government College of Arts and
Crafts, Indian Association for the Cultivation of
Science, Indian Institute of Management, Indian
Institute of Science Education and Research,
Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business
Management, Indian Statistical Institute, Marine
Engineering and Research Institute, Ramakrishna
Mission Institute of Culture, S.N. Bose National
Centre for Basic Sciences, Saha Institute of
Nuclear Physics, Variable Energy Cyclotron
Centre, and West Bengal National University of
Sites of Interest
Academy of Fine
Arts, established in 1933, is where
the city's cultural intellectuals meet. Art
galleries feature exhibitions by contemporary
artists throughout the year. The Rabindra Gallery
contains personal belongings, manuscripts and
paintings by Rabindranath Tagore.
Academy of Indian
Coins and History, established in
1997, is a voluntary organization dealing in
ancient Indian coins and history.
and Technological Museum,
established in 1966, houses a permanent
exhibition of industrial and technological
progress in India.
exhibits the universe and the solar system.
Regular astronomical shows are presented with
commentaries in different languages.
Sangrahalaya, located in nearby
Barrakpore, holds a library and museum dedicated
to the life of Mahatma
contains a small but rich collection of the folk
arts and crafts of Bengal.
located in Chowringhee, houses vast collections
of Indian natural history and Indian art.
Established in 1814, it is the oldest museum in
Asia, and the largest in India.
Thakurbari was the birth place of
National Poet Rabindranath Tagore. The family
home is now the premises of Rabindra Bharati
University, as well as a museum of Tagore
is a large open field in the heart of the city
where several sporting events and public meetings
Museum houses a collection of
puppets depicting the Ramayana and the
Mahabharata, as well as collections of toys and
dolls and a huge library for children.
Museum contains vestiges of the
Bengal Renaissance of the nineteenth century.
Minar is a granite column that
stands 152 feet (46 meters) high. It was erected
in 1828 to commemorate the victory of the British
Army under David Octerloni over the Nepal Army in
1814. Previously known as Octerloni Monument, it
was rechristed as the Saheed Minar to commemorate
the Indian freedom fighters in 1969.
Memorial is an impressive building
of white marble that houses a picture gallery and
a historical museum. Built between 1906 and 1921,
the memorial was commissioned by Lord Curzon, who
felt that Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and
Empress of India,
deserved a suitable monument to her memory.
World War II
University of Calcutta
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