Kolkata The City of Joy, Bengali Kalikata, formerly Calcutta city, capital of West Bengal state, and former capital (1772–1911) of British India. It is one of India’s largest cities and one of its major ports.
The city is centered on the east bank of the Hugli (Hooghly) River, once the main channel of the Ganges (Ganga) River, about 96 miles (154 km) upstream from the head of the Bay of Bengal; there the port city developed as a point of transshipment from water to land and from the river to the sea. A city of commerce, transport, and manufacture, Kolkata is the dominant urban center of eastern India.
Kolkata The City of Joy
The city’s former name, Calcutta, is an Anglicized version of the Bengali name Kalikata. According to some, Kalikata is derived from the Bengali word Kalikshetra, meaning “Ground of (the goddess) Kali.” Some say the city’s name derives from the location of its original settlement on the bank of a canal (Khal).
A third opinion traces it to the Bengali words for lime (calcium oxide; kali) and burnt shell (kata), since the area was noted for the manufacture of shell lime. In 2001 the government of West Bengal officially changed the name of the city to Kolkata.
Kolkata has a subtropical climate with a seasonal regime of monsoons (rain-bearing winds). It is warm year-round, with average high temperatures ranging from about 80 °F (27 °C) in December and January to nearly 100 °F (38 °C) in April and May. The average annual rainfall is about 64 inches (1,625 mm).
Most of this falls from June to September, the period of the monsoon. These months are very humid and sometimes sultry. During October and November, the rainfall dwindles. The winter months, from about the end of November to the end of February, are pleasant and rainless; fogs and mists occasionally reduce visibility in the early morning hours at this season, as also do thick blankets of smog in the evenings.
Atmospheric pollution has greatly increased since the early 1950s. Factories, motor vehicles, and thermal-generating stations, which burn coal, are primary causes of this pollution, but monsoon winds act as cleansing agents by bringing in fresh air masses and also hastening the removal of water pollution.
Museums and libraries
Greater Kolkata has more than 30 museums, which cover a wide variety of fields. The Indian Museum, founded in 1814, is the oldest in India; the archaeology and numismatic sections contain valuable collections. The exhibits at Victoria Memorial Hall trace Britain’s relations with India.
The Asutosh Museum of Indian Art in the University of Calcutta has exhibits of the folk art of Bengal among its collections. Science City, a large science museum and entertainment complex, was among the first of its kind in Asia.
Valuable library collections are to be found in the Asiatic Society of Bengal, the Bengal Literary Society, and the University of Calcutta; the National Library is the largest in India and contains a fine collection of rare books and manuscripts.
Kolkata is chaotic but moody so one must visit this place once in a lifetime.