"When I was a child, the city of Calcutta was not wakeful at night as it is now. Nowadays, as soon as the daylight is over, the day of the electric light begins. There is not much work done in it, but there is no rest, for the fire continues, as it were, to smoulder in the the charcoal after the blazing wood has burnt itself out. The oil mills are still, the steamers' sirens are silent, the laboureres have left the factories, the buffaloes which pull the carts of the jute bales are stabled in a tin-roofed shed. But the nerves of the city are throbbing still with the fever of thought which has burnt all day in her brain."
---My Boyhood Days, Rabindranath Tagore
Kolkata, one of those cities where the heart and soul of India lives in, stands on the banks of the river Hooghly (one of the tributories of Ganges) and is the capital city of West Bengal. Calcutta was the name the British gave the city while it was made their capital. The name was changed back to Kolkata on January 1st, 2001. Kolkatta is one of the biggest cities in the modern India. It's located at a latitude of 22 degree 82 minutes North and a longitude of 88 degrees 20 minutes East. Located 60 miles from the Bay of Bengal, Kolkata has a total area of 1380 sq. km. and a gross population of 11.83 million sccording to census 2001.
There are many assumptions about how the city got its name as Kolkata. The most prominent of them is that the name is derived from the word "Kalikshetra", which means temple of goddess Kali. Some people argue that the name was coined from the two Bengali words kali (which means lime ) and kata (meaning burnt shell), since the area was noted for the manufacture of shell-lime. Some others match the name to the Bengali word Kilkila which means flat area, since this word was used to refer to this area in some of the ancient literature.
Kolkatta was an underdeveloped place before the British invented it. The capital and the most important city of the Bengal was Murshidabad. The earliest reference about Calcutta is from the novel "Manasa Mangal", where its told that the hero visited Kalighat and offered a puja to the goddess Kali.
The political history of Kolkata begins when the East India Company chose the city for a trade settlement in 1690.
In 1699 they started developing Kolkatta as a city. They built the old fort in 1715, and in 1727 a civil court was set up according the orders from King George I.
Siraj-ud-daulla attacked and conquered Calcutta in 1756. He changed the name of the city to Alinagar
. But in June 1757, the British defeated him and conquered the city back.
It was in 1772
that the British made Kolkata their capital. Slowly they transfered the rule to Kolkata from Murshibad. They built a number of new buildings and the face of the city started to change. Warren Hastings
was the Governer General
of Kolkata during this time. The Asiaic Socity
was established in 1784 and the William College
was started in 1801. The famous Presidency college
was started in 1817. Kolkata was slowly transforming to the intellectual capital of India as well.
After the great Indian Mutiny of 1857, the call for freedom had caught the country like a fire. Though a little slower then Delhi and places near it did, Calcutta picked up the momentum of the struggle enthusiastically. In 1886, the second convention of the Indian National Congress was held in Calcutta
The leading English newspaper The Statesman was started in 1875. in 1911 the British moved the capital to Delhi. But Calcutta continued to be a major trade city and the academic capital of India.
In 1947, while India obtained freedom from the British, Bengal was partitioned and Calcutta was made the capital of the state of West Bengal.
Calcutta was hit by many floods and famines at times. One of the most intense of them was the famine of 1943, in which thousands of people were killed. A major flood hit the city in 1978 and took many lives.
Calcutta has a lot more to claim in front of the world. It had been home to both of India's non-science nobel laureates- Rabindranath Tagore and Mother Teresa. (Even Amartya Sen lived in the Santiniketan for years and he did his education in Calcutta). It was in this city that the great Subhash Chandra Bose started his long and influencing struggle for freedom. The great fim maker Satyajith Ray, the spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda, and the scientist Jagdish Chandra Bose were all sons of the same city.