Kolkata- The City of Joy

It’s Kolkata, here, I was born and lived up to my early twenty. Many a time my outstation friends ask me how Kolkata is unique to other cities? What are the unique things that made Kolkata proud? What are Kolkata’s heritage? Why bengalis are so proud about their culture? Why Kolkata is even a metro city? Is there anything that we should know/ see when we are visiting there?

Long list to answer! Try to respond as much factual it can be. But always thought to answer in little bit detail, tried to express the unique flavor. Ultimately it’s about my city, my tilottama. Unlike other metros, we don’t take pride about shopping malls or multiplexes. We also have those but Kolkata’s flavor can’t be judged so easily. So here is the post; why Kolkata is completely unique-

Kolkata’s Durga Puja

Friends keep me asking why you bengalis get emotional over Durga Puja so much? Do you celebrate it’s more than Diwali?
— Ahh, we celebrate diwali too. Kolkata is a place of celebrations through out the year. And about Durga puja; yes it’s absolutely different among all.

A man in Delhi once asked me “What is so special about Durga Puja In Kolkata? Is it just as big as Diwali is here in the North?”.
I simply smiled and replied ‘You have no idea’. Waiting for my late evening flight to Mumbai at the airport, I thought that there probably isn’t any festival in any city in the world that can match Kolkata’s Puja in intensity. You can take the craze of Diwali in Delhi, Christmas in London, Summer Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Valentine’s day in Paris and then add it to the month long madness of Olympic Games or the World Cup and cram all that into a span of 5 day and you still wouldn’t know what you are missing if you haven’t been in Kolkata during Durga Puja

– Vir Sanghvi, Hindustan Times [Source: Social Network]

Statistics- Kolkata will be always proud about

  • Moheener Ghoraguli was a bengali independent music group from Kolkata, established in 1975. It was India’s first rock band.
  • Kolkata’s “Metro Railway” was the first underground rail in India.
  • “Calcutta Tramways” is the only tram service in India, and the oldest surviving electric tram network of Asia.
  • Eden Gardens was one of only two 100,000 seater amphitheaters for the game of cricket (the other being Melbourne Cricket Ground). Now it has downgraded its seating capacity to 67k but still now it’s the largest cricket stadium in India.
  • Howrah railway station is the oldest station and largest railway complex in India. With 23 platforms, it has the highest train-handling capacity of any railway station in India; and is one of the busiest railway stations in terms of passenger volume per day.
  • Belvedere House is now the National Library. It houses over a million books and is the biggest library in India. The Kolkata Book Fair is the largest book fair in Asia.
  • Dalhousie Square was the administrative center for British India. On one side is the General Post Office, a majestic specimen of Edwardian architecture. It is built on the site of the original Fort William. On the other side stands Writers’ Building, a massive Gothic structure with ionic pillars – still the house of political power.
  • University of Calcutta Established in 1857 it was the first modern university on the sub-continent.
  • Bengal Engineering and Science University, Shibpur – Established in 1856. First institute to conduct degree examinations in engineering in Asia(1864). First institute to introduce post-graduate(1954) and also doctoral(1962) programmes in engineering in India.
  • Five Nobel Prize winners have been associated with Kolkata: Sir Ronald Ross (1902, Medicine), Rabindranath Tagore (1913, first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature), C V Raman (1930, Physics), Mother Teresa (1979, Peace), Amartya Sen (1998, Economics). BTW, Kolkata has an Oscar Winner too, Satyajit Ray.

Some misconceptions about Kolkata

  • Roshogolla‬ was not from Kolkata by origin. Actually, it’s originated in Odisha. Kolkata’s Nobin Chandra Das modified the recipe of it. Yes, it’s true that the recipe became famous only after that and that’s why Rasgulla or Roshogolla‬ belongs to bengali’s own list.
  • Bengalis love fish, yes true, but it’s not that can’t live without fish. Basically we are food lovers. If you ever meet a bengali, you’ll realize how much we love to eat. And about the available food varieties in Kolkata, you simply can’t imagine, if you never been to Kolkata. We love non/ veg both and yes prefer non-veg, and yes fish is more preferred among all. But it’s nothing but preference and the basic reason is easy availability of fish from the childhood.
  • One of my friend from Rediff, asked me once… Kuntal, when I went to Kolkata, I had seen that you bengalis have a variety of potatoes in markets, and one of them is named as “Jyoti”. You guys kept the name in honour of Jyoti Basu, right?
    — I was clueless how to respond!
    It’s true that politics is ruining the state since a long time. But that doesn’t mean we all love politics. Honestly the majority hates what Left front had done and what Mamata Banerjee is doing now. That’s why a large pool of youths have chosen to settle down out side of Kolkata.

Some places- worth to visit

  • A walk along Chowringhee Road sets the pace as you set out to unravel the rare beauty of this city.
  • Believe me or not- Sunset view from Princep ghat can be compared with the same in Marine Drive.
  • Kolkata Birla Planetarium is the largest planetarium in Asia; second largest planetarium in the world.
  • Kolkata Zoological Garden: Covers 16 hectares of land, built in 1876. The lakes within are a favorite retreat for migratory Siberian birds.
  • Dakshineswar Kali Temple and Belur Math: Built in 1847, on the banks of the Hooghly, north of Kolkata, the temple is associated with Shri Ramakrishna, the eclectic 19th century saint who revived Hinduism during the British Raj. Across the river stands Belur Math, headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission.
  • Indian Museum is the earliest and the largest multipurpose Museum not only in the Indian subcontinent but also in the Asia-Pacific region of the world.
  • Kolkata botanical garden is one of the oldest and largest botanical gardens of India. The best-known landmark of the garden is The Great Banyan, an enormous banyan tree that is one of the widest trees in the world, at more than 330 metres in circumference.
  • Science City, the largest science centre in the sub-continent, under the National Council of Science Museums. The first of its kind in Asia.
  • Royal Calcutta golf club. Founded in 1829, Royal is the oldest golf club in India and the oldest outside Great Britain.
  • Victoria Memorial, was planned by Lord Curzon and opened by the Prince of Wales in 1921. This British attempt at building a second Taj Mahal, is dedicated to Queen Victoria.

Got the essence, why we bengalis are so proud about Kolkata? There is much more, ping me when you’re going to Kolkata; I can provide you lot more details.

[References: Kolkata from Wikipedia and Kolkata from Wiki travel]

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