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Kolkata - India
Me2Desi Travel Information
Kolkata, formerly Calcutta, is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. It is located in eastern India on the east bank of the River Hooghly. When including the suburbs its population exceeds 15 million, making it India's second-largest city and urban agglomeration. Calcutta served as the capital of India during the British Raj until 1911. Once the centre of modern education, industry, science, culture and politics in India, Kolkata witnessed intense political violence, clashes and economic stagnation from the years starting 1954 and continuing till this day. However, since the year 2000, economic rejuvenation has led to a spurt in the city's growth. Like the other metropolitan cities of India, Kolkata continues to struggle with urbanisation problems like poverty, pollution and traffic congestion. Kolkata is noted for its revolutionary history, ranging from the Indian struggle for independence to the leftist and trade union movements. Probably based on Kalikata, the name of one of the three villages (Kalikata, Sutanuti, Gobindapur) in the area before the arrival of the British. "Kalikata", in turn, is believed to be an anglicised version of Kalikshetra. Alternatively, the name may have been derived from the Bengali term kilkila ("flat area"). Again, the name may have its origin in the indigenous term for a natural canal, Khal, followed by Katta (which may mean dug). While the city's name was always pronounced "Kolkata" in the local Bengali language, its official English name was only changed from "Calcutta" to "Kolkata" in 2001, reflecting the Bengali pronunciation. Some view this as a move to erase the legacy of British rule. Kolkata is located in eastern India at 22°33'N, 88°20'E in the Ganges Delta at an elevation ranging between 1.5 m (5 ft) to 9 m (30 ft). It is spread linearly along the banks of the River Hooghly in a north-south direction. Much of the city was originally a vast wetland, reclaimed over the decades to accommodate the city's burgeoning population. Kolkata has a tropical wet-and-dry climate. The annual mean temperature is 26.8 °C (80.2 °F); monthly mean temperatures range from 19 °C (66.2 °F) to 30 °C (86.0 °F).

Kolkata is the main business, commercial and financial hub of eastern India and the northeastern states. It is home to the Calcutta Stock Exchange — India's second-largest bourse. It is also a major commercial and military port, and the only city in the region to have an international airport. Once India's leading city and Capital, Kolkata experienced a steady economic decline in the years following India's independence due to the prevalent unstabilised political condition and rise in trade-unionism. The liberalisation of the Indian economy in the 1990s has resulted in the improvement of the city's fortunes. Public transport is provided by the Kolkata suburban railway, the Kolkata Metro, trams and buses. The suburban network is extensive and extends into the distant suburbs. As of 2001, Kolkata city had a population of 4,580,544, while the urban agglomeration had a population of 13,216,546. The sex ratio is 828 females per 1000 males - which is lower than the national average, because many working males come from rural areas, where they leave behind their families. Kolkata's literacy rate of 80.86% exceeds the all-India average of 64.8%. Bengalis comprise the majority of Kolkata's population (55%), with Marwaris,Oriya and Bihari communities forming a large portion of the minorities (20%). Some of Kolkata's minor communities include Chinese, Tamils, Nepalis, Telugus, Assamese, Gujaratis, Anglo-Indians, Armenians, Tibetans, Maharashtrians, Punjabis, Malayalees and Parsis. Major languages spoken in Kolkata are Bengali, Hindi, English, Oriya, and Bhojpuri. Kolkata has long been known for its literary, artistic and revolutionary heritage. As the former capital of India, Kolkata was the birthplace of modern Indian literary and artistic thought. Kolkatans tend to have a special appreciation for art and literature; its tradition of welcoming new talent has made it a "city of furious creative energy". Durga Puja is the most important and the most glamourous event in Kolkata. Other notable festivals include Jagaddhatri Puja, Diwali, Eid, Holi, Christmas, poila boishak (new year), Saraswati puja, Rath Yatra and Poush parbon (harvest festival). Some of the cultural festivals are Kolkata Book Fair, Dover Lane music festival, Kolkata Film Festival and National Theatre Festival. Cricket and football (soccer) are popular sports in the city. Kolkata is known as Mecca of Indian Football. Calcutta Football League, which started in 1898, is the oldest football league in Asia. Kolkata is also home to Shahrukh Khan-owned Kolkata Knight Riders IPL cricket team franchise. Kolkata is known for its large stadia. The Eden Gardens is one of only two 100,000-seat cricket stadiums in the world.

Places of Interest in Kolkata are:

Academy of Fine Arts - academyoffinearts.tripod.com
Agri-Horticultural Garden
Armenian Church
Asiatic Society - www.asiaticsocietycal.com
Belur Math - www.belurmath.org
Birla Planetarium - education.vsnl.com/planetarium
Indian Museum - www.indianmuseumkolkata.org
Marble Palace
Nehru Children's Museum - www.nehrumuseum.org
Victoria Memorial - http://www.victoriamemorial-cal.org

Websites:

http://www.calcuttaweb.com
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calcutta
http://www.kolkatabeckons.com
http://www.kolkatamycity.com/
http://www.indianrail.gov.in
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