Kolkata, the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal, houses many places of tourist interest that result in thousands of footfalls round the year. The city is the main business, academic, and cultural hub of Eastern India and lies on the eastern riverbanks of the Hooghly River.
The total area covered by the city is 71 sq miles or 185 km2. The metropolitan region of the city covers an area of 728.45 sq miles or 1,886.67 km2. According to the census conducted in 2011, the population of the city is 4,486,679, making it the 7th most populated city in India. The metropolitan region of the city houses a population of 14,112,536 and the metropolitan region of the city ranks as the third most populated metropolitan region of the country. The density of population of Kolkata is 63,200/sq miles or 24,250/km2.
The city of Kolkata forms a part of Eastern India. The coordinates of the city are 22.82° North and 88.20° east. The mean altitude of the city is 17 feet over sea surface. The shoreline of the Bay of Bengal lies at a distance of 60 km in the south. The Sundarbans National Park is located at a distance of 100 km from the city. Being situated near the sea Kolkata has tropical climate. The summer temperature ranges from 25 to 40 Celsius and in winter it is between 12 - 25 Celsius. It receives its share of rainfall from monsoon winds. The best time to visit Kolkata is from September to March.
The city of Kolkata can be broadly categorized into the following areas:
North Kolkata - Shobhabazar, Shyambazar, Cossipore, Chitpur, Sinthee, Baranagar, and Dum Dum
Central Kolkata - BBD Bagh, Esplanade, Free School Street (Mirza Ghalib Street), Park Street, Chandni Chowk, Dalhousie Square, Sudder Street and Burra Bazaar. It is also known as the central business district (CBD) of the city.
South Kolkata - Alipore, Ballygunge, Lansdowne, New Alipore, Tollygunge, Bhowanipore, Lake Gardens, Jodhpur Park, Jadavpur, Golf Green, and Kasba.
The suburbs of the city are Behala, Garden Reach, Kudghat, Thakurpukur, Bansdroni, Ranikuthi, Garia, and Baghajatin.
The city of Kolkata has been inhabited for more than two millenniums. But its recorded history does not date back to very far off era. It is just three hundred years old. Kolkata's name attained prominence with the arrival of Britishers. British got the right to free trade in Calcutta in 1686 thereafter the city started gradually coming under their control. The British enjoyed complete control over the city till 1756 when Nawab of Murshidabad Siraj-Ud-Daulah captured the city. However in 1757 at the battle of Plassey Britishers seized the city back. Slowly Calcutta attained the status of Capital City of British Raj, which it retained till 1912.
The sex ratio of the city is 899 females/1000 males. The literacy rate of the city is 87.14%, which is substantially higher than the countrywide mean (74%). Most of the people of Kolkata are Bengalis. Other communities include Tamils, Chinese, Oriyas, Nepalis, Assamese, Telugus, Anglo-Indians, Gujaratis, Greeks, Armenians, Maharashtrians, Tibetans, Malayalees, Konkanis, Parsis, and Punjabis. The main language spoken in the city is Bengali. Other languages used include English, Hindi, and Urdu. About 77.68% of the people is Hindu, 0.88% is Christians, 20.27% Muslims, and 0.46% are Jains.
Kolkata holds the position of the principal business hub of the Eastern and Northeast India. Major industries of the city include heavy engineering, steel, minerals, pharmaceuticals, cement, agriculture, food processing, textiles, electronics, electrical equipments, engineering goods, leather, jewelry, tea, tobacco, automobile and jute. The city is also home to the Calcutta Stock Exchange (CSE), which is the oldest and second biggest exchange in the country. Kolkata Metro is one of the groundbreaking achievements in South Asia as it is the oldest metro rail service in the territory.
Currently, the mayor of the city is Shri Sovan Chatterjee. He represents the Trinamool Congress party. The city is run by a mayor-council government system and there are 141 municipal wards in the city, each represented by a councilor. These wards are again divided into 15 boroughs. The city comes under the legal authority of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation.
Given below are the names of the most famous educational institutes in Kolkata:
Aliah University, Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, Kolkata, University of Calcutta, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, Jadavpur University, Indian Statistical Institute, Presidency University, Kolkata, Netaji Subhas Open University, Rabindra Bharati University, Presidency University, Kolkata, Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University, Rabindra Bharati University, West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute, West Bengal University of Health Sciences, West Bengal University of Animal and Fishery Sciences, West Bengal State University.
Birla Institute of Technology, Bengal Engineering and Science University (BESU)
Nil Ratan Sarkar Medical College and Hospital, Calcutta Medical College, National Medical College, R.G. Kar Medical College, KPC Medical College and Hospital, S.S.K.M. Medical College, Guru Nanak Institute of Dental Science and Research, Panihati, Dr. R. Ahmed Dental College, College of Medicine and JNM Hospital, Kalyani and Sagar Dutta Memorial Medical College and Hospital, Kamarhati.
Baghajatin State General Hospital, B.R. Singh Hospital- Eastern Railways - Sealdah, South Suburban Hospital, Baranagar State General Hospital, Bijoygarh State General Hospital, Bidhan Nagar State General Hospital, and Gardenreach State General Hospital
Anandolok Hospital, Assembly of God Church, Balananda Bramhachari Hospital, Apex Hospital, Bharat Sevashram Sangha Hospital, Belle Vue Hospital, Calcutta Medical Research Institute (CMRI), B.P. Poddar Hospital & Medical Research Ltd., Desun Hospital and Heart Institute, Columbia Asia Hospital - Salt Lake, Genesis Hospital, Dishan Hospital, Kothari Medical Centre, ILS Super Speciality Clinic, Medica Superspeciality Hospital, Mayfair Hospital, B.T Road, Phoenix Hospital & Diagnostic Centre Pvt. Ltd., Peerless Hospital, Renaissance Hospital Private Limited, Priyamvada Birla Aarvind Eye Hospital, Sankara Nethralaya, RSV Hospital, Tollygunge, Shree Aurobindo Seva Kendra, Jodhpur Park, Shahid Khudiram Bose Hospital, Belghoria, Silverline Eye Hospital, Shree Vishudhanand Sarswati Marwari Hospital, Susrut Eye Foundation and Research Centre, and Sterling Hospital, Shyambazar.
Nil Ratan Sarkar Medical College and Hospital, Calcutta Medical College, National Medical College, R.G. Kar Medical College, KPC Medical College and Hospital, S.S.K.M. Medical College, Guru Nanak Institute of Dental Science and Research, Panihati, Dr. R. Ahmed Dental College, College of Medicine & JNM Hospital, Kalyani and Sagar Dutta Memorial Medical College and Hospital, Kamarhati.
Advanced Medicare & Research Institute Ltd (AMRI), Dhakuria, Salt Lake, Apollo Gleneagles Hospital Ltd., Tata Medical Center, AMRI Womens and Children Care, Woodland Hospital, Westbank Hospital, Birla Heart Hospital, Rabindranath Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences, Ruby Hospital and Chittaranjan Cancer Institute.
The main tourist attractions of Kolkata are:
Victoria Memorial: Landmark of Kolkata, this marvel was built to commemorate the 25 years of reign of queen Victoria on India. This edifice of pre independence era is located at the Southern end of 'The Maidan'. And is a perfect blend of Mughal and British architecture style.
Howrah Bridge or Rabindra Setu: This world's busiest bridge is built over river Hughli. It is 97m high and 705 m long and is a gateway to the city.
The Maidan: It is known as "Lungs of the City" and is one of the finest gift of Britishers.
BBD Bagh (Dalhousie Square): It is named after three martyrs Benoy- Badal and Dinesh. It is the main commercial hub of Kolkata and is worth a visit.
Writers Building: Presently home to secretariat of West Bengal Government, this building was built for the writers of East India Company who worked and lived there.
Fort Williams: It is situated at the bank of river Hooghli and is octagon shaped. It houses a museum displaying arms and photographs of Burma campaign and a section on people and handicraft of Northeast India.
Shahid Minar (Ochterlony Monument): Named in the memory of freedom fighters of India, it was built to commemorate British victory in Nepal war in 1814-16. It adores the skyline of Chowringhee.
Birla Planetarium: Established in 1962 it is one of the largest planetarium of the world. Stars and constellations are projected on the ceiling of the planetarium.
Rabindra Sadan: It is a seat of Bengali culture with a theater cum concert hall and 'Nandan', a film center, located nearby. The Bangla Akademi and the Kolkata Information Center are also situated in the vicinity.
Jorashanko Thakurbari: Located on the Rabindra Bharati University Campus, this home of Rabindra Nath Tagore was a major center for Bengali art and culture during nineteenth century. A forty-five minutes light and sound show on the life of Tagore family is held here in the evening.
Asiatic Society: Founded by Sir William Jones in 1784, it is the first modern museum in Asia and houses a rich collection of art and antiquities and a huge library.
Indian Museum: Initially part of Asiatic society, the museum has sixty galleries of six departments of art, archeology, zoology, botany, geology and archaeology. It is situated on J. Nehru Road and is popularly known as 'Jadu Ghar '(magic house).
Marble Palace: Built by Raja Rajendra Mullick in 1835 this gothic mansion has ornate objects collected from auctions and dispossessed households across the globe.
National Library: This library located in 'Summer House' of Prince Azim-Us-Shan, the Viceroy of Bengal and Bihar, was inaugurated by Lord Curzon in January 1903. At that time it was named Metcalf hall and was renamed as National Library in 1948. It has over two million books and half million documents.
Vidyasagar Setu: It is situated South of Howrah bridge on the river Hooghli. Its construction work took 22 years and costed Rs 3.88 billion. It is 457m long and 115m wide and has 100m deep foundations.
Kolkata does not let down even religious people. There are many such places where you can feel the spiritual serene.
Kalighat Kali Temple: It is one of the 52 'Shakti Peetham' of India and is a major site of 'Shakti' worship. It is believed that a finger of goddess Kali fell here when Shiva (hindu god) was carrying her dead body. The temple enshrines an awe inspiring black stone idol of goddess 'Kali'.
Belur Math: Established by Swami Vivekanada in 1899 it is headquarter of Ramkrishan Mission. This shrine gives the message of secularism and religious tolerance. The architecture is unique in its own way as it gives the view of a temple, a mosque and a church if seen from different angles.
Dakshineshwar Kali Temple: This temple built by Rani Rashmoni in 1847 is situated on other side of river Hooghli. It also houses statues of other deities such as Shiva, Radha-Krishan and Sita-Ram.
Birla Mandir: The architecture of the temple is a perfect blend of traditional artistry and modern technology.
Armenian Church: It was built in 1724 by Cavond, an Armenian and is one of the oldest churches in Kolkata.
St. Paul's Cathedral: It was built between 1839 and 1847 in Indo-Gothic style
Nakhoda Mosque: It is located on north of BBD Bagh and is the largest mosque of Kolkata. The present structure of the mosque was built by Osman in 1942.
Botanical Gardens: This oldest botanical garden of India is situated in Shibpur, ten km South of Haora station. It was established in 1786 by Colonel Alexander Kyd. The star attraction of this garden is 240 years old banyan tree, which reaches up to a height of 24.5m and is spread over a circumference of 420m, making it the world's largest banyan tree.
Eden Gardens: It was named after Emily and Fanny Eden, sisters of Lord Auckland. It is situated at Northwest corner of The Maidan. The famous Eden Gardens stadium also lies with in the Garden.
Horticultural Gardens: It is located in Alipore. It was established in 1820 by William Carey. An annual flower show is held here in February.
Zoological Gardens: Situated south of the Maidan, along Belvedere road,it was opened in 1875.
Science City: Located in Eastern part of Kolkata, it is a first venture of its kind in whole of India. The complex houses a Space Odyssey, a Fountain Park, Life Science Corner and Dinosaur's Complex. But the most interesting section is Space Theater. It is a circular auditorium with a dome shaped ceiling. It is open from 9 am to 9 pm.
NICCO Park: Situated in Salt Lake City in Northeastern part, it is Disneyland of Kolkata. It is popularly known as 'Jheel Meel'. And is a great attraction for children. For nature lovers it has an exquisite Rose Garden. Its visiting time is 11am to 8 pm (winter), 11 am to 9 pm (summer).
Aquatica: As the name suggests it is a Waterpark. It is situated at Kochkupur. It is waterlovers' haven.
Millennium Park: Situated on the bank of river Ganga on Strand Road it is a real paradise for nature lovers. One can experience the waves of Ganga along with the scenic beauty of the park.
Asutosh Museum: Established in 1937, this museum of Calcutta university has collection of art objects with special emphasis on Bengali folk art.
Nehru Children's Museum: This museum situated on Chowringhee road has models depicting the Hindu epics namely the Ramayana and the Mahabharta.
Birla Industrial and Technological Museum: This museum is funded by philanthropist Birlas. It has a fine collection of sculptures and modern art as well as some interesting medieval specimens.
Netaji Museum: Situated in Netaji Bhavan this museum houses large collection of material related to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. Avoid going here during Netaji birth week that is around 23rd January because at this time of the year there is a very heavy rush.
If you are tired of the hustle-bustle of the city then there are many places nearby this 'City of Procession' to which you can give a shot.
Shanti Niketan: Situated 136 km Northwest of Kolkata this teaching abode was established by Rabindranath Tagore. It offers calm and serene environment to nature lovers.
Bandel: Famous for its oldest church, it is located almost 43 km from Kolkata. The Portuguese Basilica was built in 1660.
Diamond Harbor: It is a perfect getaway from Kolkata. You can get river cruise from this place and spend the whole day in the lap of river Hoogli. It also offers best beach resorts around Kolkata.
Sunderbans: This world heritage site is the only home of the most ferocious animal, the royal Bengal tiger, on earth. This largest delta of world is also habitat to Cheetal. Visitor can get to see rare birds like Brown Winged Kingfisher, Swamp Patridge, Grey Heades Lapwing, Mangove Whistler and many other exotic birds.
Chandannagar: It has many tourist attractions, the most important being the ruins of French buildings. Other spots worth visit are Rabindra Bhavan, Strand Church, Museum and Temple.
Nabadwip: The birthplace of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu it is home to the temples dedicated to lord Krishna. It is a popular pilgrimage center for the devotees of Krishna.
Kolkata is a land of cultural delights. Durga Puja (worship of goddess Durga) is the most important festival of the city. It is celebrated in the month of October- November. People of Kolkata spend their days and nights visiting 'Puja Pandals'. Gangasagar mela is other important festival of the city. It is the largest fair of the state, celebrated on Makar Sakranti on the Sagardwip. Lakhs of pilgrims throng the island to take a holy dip on this auspicious day at the confluence of river Ganga and the Bay of Bengal. Other major festivals are Deepavali, Rathjatra of Lord Jagannath, Holi, Eid and Christmas.
There are many fairs organized in Kolkata. The most famous is Kolkata Book Fair. It is organized at a very large scale and is the largest Book Fair of India. Other important fairs of the city are Textile Fair, Art and Handicraft Fair and Leather Exhibition.
Kolkata suits every body's pocket. You can choose a luxury, medium or economy hotel according to your budget. There are five star hotels such as Oberoi Grand Hotel, the Park Hotel, the Taj Bangal and the Hyatt Regency. The economy hotels include Howrah Hotel, Paragon Hotel and Salvation Army Guesthouse.
Being the cultural hub of East, Kolkata has wide variety of eating options. You can easily find Bengali, North Indian, South Indian, Continental, Mughlai, Chinese and Thai food. The must eat include Kolkata's famous 'Rasogolla', 'Misti Doi', and the 'Macher Jhol'. Saffron, Zaranj, Zaeqa, Vatika , Udupi(Indian), Chinese Pavilion, Zen, Red Hot Chilli Pepper, Orchid(Chinese and thai) are the best places to satiate your taste buds.
The famous shopping places of Kolkata are:
Metro Shopping Center: Located at the Ho Chi Mina Sarani, it is at a stone's throw away from Tata center. It has over two hundred sixty shops of textiles, apparels, accessories and many more things. You just name it and the thing is present there.
New Market: If you are good at bargaining then new market is the place for you. Here you can find all the necessary items from smallest and cheapest to the biggest and the most expensive one.
Lindsay Street Area: It is situated around New Market Area and is a shopper's haven as it has many shops lined here. Shreeram Market and Treasure Island, two other shopping centers are also present in this area.
Park Street Area: It has some high-class shopping center, this include Vaibhav Air Conditioned Market, Vardaan, Victoria Plaza, the Forum and the Metro Plaza. Music world, Oxford Books Store and the Landmark are also located here.
Gariahat: With its numerous shops Gariahat can rival Lindsay Street Area. The Ballygung AC market and the Dakshinapan shopping center are two of its main attractions. Many handicraft and textiles emporium of government can also be seen here.