Kolkata, the city of joy, was the Capital of India during British rule and is famed for its palatial buildings. As India’s second-biggest city, it is a kaleidoscope of contrasts: slums and golf courses, grand gentleman’s clubs and street urchins, crumbling colonial elegance and ultra-modern shopping malls.
Nowadays Kolkata is considered the land of intellectuals and one of India’s finest paradigms of culture. Known as the place where Mother Teresa lived and worked, it is also the birthplace of several of India’s great poets and thinkers: Noble-winning poet Rabindranath Tagore, philosopher and guru Ramakrishna, and acclaimed movie maker Satyajit Ray.
Culture is a vital part of life in Calcutta and its many theatres showcase live music, poetry, art, film, Bengali dance and performance.
The spirit of tolerance and welcoming of all aspects of humanity is evident throughout the city and epitomised in Belur Math, the headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission that was established in 1899 as a church, temple, and mosque all in one.
A deep love of cricket is also a part of life in Kolkata, with central Eden Gardens as the world-renowned host of international test matches and the many informal cricket games happening daily in the gardens around it.
Kolkata also sports some of the best restaurants in India offering culinary delights from mild, fruity curries to fabulous Bengali sweets.
Kolkata’s deep-rooted culture plays out daily on its busy, bustling streets.
The Victoria memorial floodlit at night | Sampling foods from street stalls to fine restaurants | Colourful chaos during Durga Puja, an annual four-day festival worshiping Goddess Durga just before the full moon in late September or October
− The old spelling of its name was ‘Calcutta’
− Kolkata grew from a fishing village into one of the largest cities in the world