"Ekla chalo!" is what Tagore asked us all to do, and that shall be done. If no one agrees to your plan of going on a trip to Kolkata, you can just Ekla chalo there. So what if you want to go there just because you want to know what a Sondesh is, for real. Nothing makes sense when said for the first time and nothing ever will. But sitting on the stairs of Victoria Memorial might just give you chills you were not expecting.
If you're a laid back personality, you need to visit Kolkata at least once to feel the relaxed aura in the air. If Bongs wanted to make an online hotel booking, they will just call MiStay and make us do it for them. Here are Kolkata's need-to-know list.
The home to the Britishers
Calcutta served as the capital of British India for more than a century. It was home to the headquarters of the East India Company and later became the capital of British territories in the subcontinent during the British Raj.
Calcutta, it was!
Kolkata was officially called Calcutta until 2001. The name change was part of a wider movement to do away with the anglicised version of city names that were allocated by the British while they were in charge. Back in those days, you had to search hotels in Calcuttaon Google rather hotels in Kolkata.
Kolkata is often described as the cultural capital of India. It has also been called the literary capital of India, having been home to many of the country’s leading literary figures. It is also known as “the city of furious, creative energy”.
History of Railways
Howrah Junction Railway station is the oldest and busiest train station in India. Built in 1854, the station is today ranked as the busiest in India in terms of passenger volume per day. With 23 active platforms, it also has the highest train-handling capacity among railway stations in the country.
India's only Chinatown
Kolkata is home to India’s only Chinatown. The city once had a population of more than 20,000 Chinese Indians. Today, the community is made up of approximately 2,000 people. Terreti Bazaar or Old Chinatown is one of the city’s most vibrant neighbourhoods with street stalls selling a range of delicious Indo-Chinese foods and Chinese medicines and herbs.
Howrah Bridge, the 74-year-old bridge that connects Kolkata to the adjacent city of Howrah over the Hooghly river, is an architectural and historical marvel. The bridge has no nuts and bolts and was instead formed by riveting the entire structure. With daily traffic of more than 100,000 vehicles and 150,000 pedestrians, the Howrah Bridge is also the busiest cantilever bridge in the world.
The men who pull men
Kolkata is the only city in India where you will still see the controversial hand-pulled rickshaw. The vehicle has sparked much controversy and debate and has been banned by previous governments. The current government has stated its intention to rehabilitate rickshaw pullers and provide them with alternative livelihoods. But, for the moment, the rickshaws remains in use.
Kolkata is the only city in India to have an operating tram network, which also happens to be the oldest in Asia. The trams are a popular tourist attraction in the city.
Literary Capital of India
Kolkata plays host to one of the largest book fairs in the world. It is also home to the world’s second largest used book market. The city’s historic College Street is lined with book shops selling titles spanning genres and languages, all at dirt cheap prices. Come and get in to short stay hotel to satiate your bloodlust for words.
Home to nation’s earliest newspaper
India’s very first newspaper, the Bengali Gazette, was published in Kolkata. The weekly English language paper started in 1780 but ceased publication just two years later.
Bend it like Banerjee!
While the rest of the country is consumed with cricket fever, Kolkata retains its loyalty to football. The Calcutta Football League, founded in 1898, is the oldest association football league in Asia and one of the oldest football competitions in the world.
An Armenian community
Once Kolkata was home to a flourishing Armenian community. Today there are only about 150 or so of their descendants living in the city. The Armenian College and Philanthropic Academy, established in 1821, still functions today as does the Armenian Church of the Holy Nazareth, established in 1724.
Kolkata has been an important city throughout the history of India, and many drift-changing events have occurred here. It has influenced us all, not just by the amazing books and movies, but also its great food. Now either you cherish Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali or just eat a Kathi roll, you'll enjoy Kolkata for sure.