Situated on the banks of the lovely Hoogly River, the pretty city of Kolkata boast of a graceful culture, rich history and a versatile future. Formerly called as Calcutta, this city is the capital of West Bengal, the cradle of Indian Communist movements. The city is bestowed with so many honors like "Cultural Capital of India", "The city of Processions and "City of Joy".
As the former capital of India, Kolkata boast of a colourful history. Prior to the advent of the British forces, this city was a cluster of three villages, Suttanutte, Gobindpore and Kalikata. Like all other major Indian cities, Kolkata also owe much to the progressive British for its all round development. From 1690 to 1772, this city was the hub of all the activities of the British East India Company. History states that it was the battle of Plassey paved the way of British reign in India.
During the 19th century the city was divided in to two, the white and the black town. As the name suggests, the former was the dwelling places of the English men and the poor Indians inhabited the latter. There was wide disparity between these two sectors. But we cannot underestimate the contributions of the English and it was their progressive reforms that helped the city to achieve a rapid growth in the industrial field.
A quick glance of the bygone days of Kolkata reveals before us so many untoward incidents like the black hole tragedy, partition of Bengal and the worst ever famine of 1943. Despite all these, the city has shown a progressive growth in all areas.
History of Kolkata is the history of Indian communist movement. It is amazing to believe that for so many decades the Communist Party of India is ruling the state and that no other political parties in the state was not even able to form a strong opposition on the floor of the legislature. Such is the influence of the leftist ideology on the people. However it is hard to digest that the city, which has been an astound follower of the communist ideology, is an abundant reservoir of marvelous shrines and temples.
As the cultural capital of India, Kolkata boast of a rich tradition and cultural heritage. It would be very difficult to describe the cultural life of this great city in a few words. Kolkata reflects the true life of an average Bengali who finds pleasure in talking about anything under the sun. The city is a haven of fickle poets, susceptible artists and quixotic men and women. It's the city of the quaint, artsy and the intellectual.
To get a clean picture of the cultural life of the city is to be a part of the local chat session with a Bengali. Festivals and fiestas mark the cultural ambiance of the city. Kolkata is a home to varied film festivals, folk fairs and music conferences. These festivals hold much relevance in the life style of the people.
Renowned for the world class cinematographers, this city is an abode of classic Indian cinema. There is no other Indian like Sathyajit Ray who has gained worldwide accolades for his contribution to the Indian cinema. Apart from this the city serves as a good podium for literary, artistic aspirants.
One among the characteristic features of Kolkata is the neighbourhood or paras, which helps to develop a great sense of community feeling. Renowned for the great literary figures of the 19th century, the city still upholds the rich tradition of literary appreciation and the large scale participation of people in the annual book fair shows the positive attitude of the new generation towards the literature.
As the term Kolkata is a derivative of Kalighat, which means the abode of Goddess Kali, Durga Puja is the most significant and the most fascinating event of all other festivals. Other prominent festivals are, Diwali, Jagaddhatri Puja, Holi, Eid, Christmas, Poila Boishak., Rath Yatra, Saraswati Puja and Poush Parbon.
Though the Bengali cuisine is famed for its peculiar taste and unique recipes, Kolkota provides a mix of all tastes in its culinary map. From the south Indian to the Mughalai, the Chinese to Tandoori, city restaurants fetch a wide range of dishes. These restaurants dole out all sorts of food items, which cover vegetarian, non-vegetarian, confectionaries, soups, and starters along with the popular sweets of Bengal.
The home food of Bengal is rice, lentils, and fish curry which is locally called as Bhat with macher jhol. Rice is complemented by fried bread (luchi) and tarkari (fried vegetables). Sweets are an inevitable part of Bengali cuisine. Sandesh, Chanar Payesh and Rosogolla are some of the best category of sweets that one should taste while in Kolkata.
Bengalis are considered as very fond of good food and traditional Bengali cuisine is a testimony to their food habit. Each locale in Bengal has an exceptional sweet of its own. Sharbhaja of Krishnanaga, Langcha and mihidana-sitabhog of Bardhaman, chanabora of Murshidabad there is a long list of sweets. To have a taste of exotic Bengali recipe, you have to peep in chosen restaurants like Aheli and Suruchi.
It would be very easy to get food of one’s choice in Kolkotta. Thai and Mexican food is the recent strikers in the food chart of the locals. One would find lots of Pizza huts and fast food corners through out the length and breadth of the city. If you have a good appetite, Kolkata would be the perfect place to dwell in.