Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- This article is about the city formerly known as Calcutta. For other uses of this word, see Calcutta (disambiguation).
Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta, is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal, and once the most-populated city in India, although now overtaken by Mumbai. Including the surrounding urban agglomeration, it is third largest metropolitan city in India and one of the fifteen most populous metropolitan areas of the world, at about 15 million. It is situated on the banks of the mighty Hoogli River (a distributary of the Ganges). Consequently some of the renowned engineering marvels associated include the bridges that span the lands across this river - Howrah Bridge, Vivekananda Setu and Vidyasagar Setu. The city can boast of having almost all of the Nobel laureates to India in addition to other famous personalities.
The city's name was officially changed to "Kolkata" in January 2001, though "Calcutta" is still quite often used both abroad and even in India and the city itself. Its original name was Kolikata (Bengali: (কিলকাতা) and it is, in higher literature, still referred to as such. Speakers of the region's native language, Bengali, have always known it as "Kolkata" (কলকাতা), and there is consequently no standardized phonetic spelling of 'Calcutta' in written Bengali. The name is sometimes thought to have originated from 'Kali' and 'Ghat' meaning the place for Kali worship, the name of a very famous temple in Kolkata worshipping the Hindu goddess Kali. Given the characterstic pronounciation in Bengali, 'Kalighat' is likely to have been the accepted the name among its residents. It has two well-known nicknames: City of Joy and City of Palaces. Sometimes, it is also referred to as the "Michhil Nagari" (িমিছল নগরী), or jokingly as the City of Processions and "City of Bandhs" or City of Strikes due to the large number of political and religious precessions that take place in the city.
Kolkata is located in the eastern part of India at .
The City of Palaces
Kolkata has a nickname, the "City of Palaces".
During the British colonial era in the period from 1700-1912, when Calcutta was the capital of British India, Calcutta witnessed a spate of frenzied construction activity of buildings largely influenced by the conscious intermingling of Gothic, Baroque, Roman, Oriental and Islamic schools of design. Unlike many north Indian cities, whose construction stresses minimalism, the layout in architectural variety in Calcutta owed its origins to the Occident. Thus it was possible to walk on a street in the European sector in Calcutta in the 1900s and confuse it for Saville Row, Southall or Pont des Artes .
The buildings were designed, and inspired by the tastes of the English gentleman around and the aspiring Bengalee Baboo (literally a nouveau riche Bengali who aspired to cultivation of English etiquette, manners and custom ).
This spate of construction by the Bengalis to rival the English did not go unnoticed. It was fully appreciated and fostered by the British who went on to construct some of the most aesthetically visible monuments in the city.
Nirad C. Chaudhuri has remarked that the Victoria Memorial was the only original architectural design by the British in Calcutta and not, as is believed by the Bengalis, a copy of the Taj Mahal of Agra.
Kolkata's skyline was European in form; in content it was Indian; thus earning the appelation of the City of Palaces.
Government House, Kolkata, built in the early 19th century, is modelled on Kedleston Hall. The House was once the seat of the Viceroys of India; later, when the Government moved to New Delhi, it became the residence of the Governor of Bengal, a function that it fulfils to this day. While the basic features of Kedleston have been faithfully copied (the Palladian Front, the Dome etc.), Government House is a much larger, three storeyed structure. Also, the Government of India evidently did not have the funding constraints that forced the Curzons to leave their house incomplete: Government House has all four wings originally conceived for Kedleston. So today, a 'complete', brick built Kedleston, on a much grander scale, is located in its acres of gardens in the heart of the Calcutta business district.
The city is home to the National Library of India and famous in India for the grand book-fairs it hosts every winter. The oldest museum in Asia, the Indian Museum (established 1814), is also to be found in Kolkata. Other places to visit in the city are the Victoria Memorial, Calcutta High Court, Bankshall Court, Writer's Building, Jorasanko Thakur Bari, Marble Palace, Dakshineswar Kali Temple, Birla Temple , Rabindra Setu (previously called Howrah Bridge), Vidyasagar Setu (second Hooghly bridge), Nandan - Rabindra Sadan Cultural Complex, Shahid Minar (previously called Ochterlony Monument by the British), Kalighat , Bhoothnath , Science City , St. Thomas, Kolkata, Town Hall, Calcutta , Millennium Park promenade, Eden Gardens (a massive international cricket stadium), Whiteways and Laidlaw Building (currently known as Life Insurance Corporation of India building), Governor's House, Esplanade Mansion, Howrah Station, South Eastern Railway Headquarters, Calcutta Maidan and many more notable places.
- Indian Museum
- Town Hall, Calcutta
- Marble Palace
- Gurusaday Museum, Diamond Harbour Road
- Jawahar Shishu Bhawan
- Birla Technological and Science Museum
- Science City
Primary and Secondary
There are six systems of education ---
- the West Bengal governmental system of education, known as West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education , Kolkata
- private Church-run schools administered by either the CNI or Catholic or other non Christian schools administered privately --- affiliated mostly to the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations , Delhi
- the central government administered (like the Kendriya Vidyalaya)or privately administered schools affiliated mostly to the Central Board of Secondary Education, Delhi
- the London Edexcel / the IGCSE education system,
- the Islamic Madrasah system of education and lastly
- the open school based education affiliated to the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), Delhi. In addition to that, private candidates can appear for examinations of either the C.B.S.E., West Bengal Board and other state boards which conduct their courses in the city.
University and Professional Education
The seat of nine public universities, and numerous colleges, including at least four medical colleges, Calcutta still enjoys a prominent position in education, though it has slipped in national indexes in the recent past. The universities or autonomous institutions of national importance located in Calcutta are listed below:
- University of Calcutta,
- Jadavpur University,
- Rabindra Bharati University,
- West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences,
- Netaji Subhas Open University,
- Bengal Engineering & Science University (formerly Bengal Engineering College),
- West Bengal University of Health Sciences,
- West Bengal University of Animal and Fishery Sciences,
- West Bengal University of Technology,
and numerous colleges affiliated to some of the above mentioned universities.
Institutions of National Importance
- Asiatic Society
- Indian Statistical Institute
- Indian Institute of Management
- Marine Engineering Research Institute
- Indian Association for Cultivation of Science
- Indian Institute of Chemical Biology
- Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre
- Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics
- Inter University Consortium for Department of Atomic Energy Facilities (IUC-DAEF)
- Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute
- Institute of Hotel Management, Catering Technology & Applied Nutrition
Other Autonomous Institutes/Centres of Excellence
- The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture
- Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta
- Anthropological Survey of India
- Bose Institute
- Botanical Survey of India
- Central Glass & Ceramic Research Institute
- Central Inland Capture Fisheries Research Institute
- Central Research Institute for Jute & Allied Fibres
- Centre for Studies in Social Sciences
- Electronics Research and Development Centre of India
- Geological Survey of India
- Indian Institute of Information Technology
- Mining, Geological and Metallurgical Institute of India
- National Institute of Research on Jute & Allied Fibres Technology
- National Institute of Homoeopathy
- S.N.Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences
- Zoological Survey of India
- School of Tropical Medicine
- Central Forensic Science Laboratory
- Serampore College
- Presidency College
- Scottish Church College
- Bethune College
- Medical College Calcutta
- Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management
- Max Mueller Bhavan - Goethe Institut
- British Council
- United States Educational Foundation in India
- National Institute of Fashion Technology.
Other public universities or institutions which operate in Kolkata or conduct courses in affiliated colleges or institutes are IIT Kharagpur, Visva Bharati University , Vidyasagar University , University of Kalyani , Aligarh Muslim University, Himachal Pradesh University , Madurai Kamaraj University , IGNOU and the Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad . Foreign and private universities like the University of London, University of Cambridge (Local Exams Syndicate), Troy State University, Ashington University, TAFE Australia, Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra , XLRI Jamshedpur, International Management Institute (Delhi), Rai University, EIILM University, Sikkim Manipal University and Wigan and Leigh College, UK also operate in Calcutta.
The Geological Survey of India, and the National Council of Science Museums have their headquarters in Calcutta. Financial institutions like ICAI, ICWAI, ICFAI and technological institutions like ICE(I), IE(I), NIIT, APTECH have branch offices in Calcutta.
The Games and the Players
Football or soccer is a passion for many Calcuttans with the national clubs Mohun Bagan and East Bengal being the best known teams. Kolkata has produced summer Olympic medalists like Norman Pritchard (Athletics --- 1900), Richard James Allen, Leslie Claudius Field Hockey (1924, 1928, 1936), Gurbux Singh, Dr. Vece Paes Field Hockey (1980), Leander Paes (Men's singles Tennis,1996). The current, and most successful, cricket captain of India Saurav Ganguly is a Calcuttan.
Other sportspersons who have won laurels for Kolkata are Gobor Goho (World Amateur Wrestling Championship USA 1900-2), Manotosh Roy (former Mr Universe) and Manohar Aich (former Mr. World) [both in the 1950s], Mihir Sen (Guinness Record holder of being the first person to swim across the English Channel in 1948 and the seven straits across all major continents), Jyotirmoyee Sikdar ( 1998 Asian Games Gold medallist in four events in racing), Leander Adrian Paes ( Wimbledon and French Open Men's Doubles, with Mahesh Bhupathi and Mixed Doubles Champion 1999 and Wimbledon Mixed Doubles Champion 2003, with ace Martina Navratilova), Arjun Atwal (PGA Golf champion 2003), Dibyendu Barua and Surya Sekhar Ganguly (current FIDE Chess Grandmasters) and trans-continental wizards Mohd. Salauddin and wife Neena, who were first team to race across the world in their 'Contessa Classic' 1989 car in 1993 and in a Nissan jeep in 1998; in the shortest possible time, a record acknowledged by the Guinness Book of World Records.
Another noteworthy Calcuttan associated with sports is the former president of the International Cricket Council and former president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, Mr. Jag Mohan Dalmiya.
Calcutta has a world-class football stadium in the 'Yuva Bharati Krirangan' (also called Salt Lake Stadium) and a 100,000-capacity stadium, mostly used for cricket, called the Eden Gardens. The Eden Gardens Stadium is the largest stadium of its kind for the game of cricket. Calcutta boasts of one of the largest race courses of its kind in Asia, the finest golf courses of its kind in the world (Royal Calcutta Golf Club) and one of the most beautiful tennis courts in the world (South Club) . Together they reflect remnants of a thriving sports culture based on the British inspired love for cricket, golf, tennis and equestrian events.
Kolkata is a multicultural cosmopolitan city. Apart from the diversity of India, the cultures represented are that of the Europeans (Including Germans, Armenians, and others), and other Asians (Including Chinese, Sinhalese, and Tibetans).
The two major railway stations of the city are at Howrah and Sealdah with the latter having a more local character. The city has an international airport at Dum Dum and it is called Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport. Kolkata is the only city in India to have a tram network (see Tramways in Calcutta ) and till 2003, the only underground metro railway in the Indian subcontinent .
- Kolkata has an eminent place in the history of American diplomacy as one of the oldest American Consulates anywhere in the world, and the oldest in India Link.
- Kolkata and Mumbai are the only two cities in India to have the honorary designation of the Sheriff.
- Kolkata and Bombay were two of the main export destinations for British beers, which would go stale and sour during the sea voyage. So the IPA (India Pale Ale) style of beer was created specifically to withstand the rigors of the sea between London and these Indian ports. Link
- Born into brothels, a documentary about the children of prostitutes in Sonagachi (Kolkata's red light district) won the Oscar award for the best documentary feature in 2005.
- South Point High School, Calcutta entered the Guinness Book of Records (from 1984 to 1992) as the school with maximum student enrollment.
- The Indian Botanical Gardens at Shibpur, near the Bengal Engineering College, is home of the largest banyan tree in the world (the banyan tree with the biggest girth), according to the Guinness Book of Records.
- Calcuttaweb.com - Lots of information about Calcutta
- History of West Bengal and Calcutta - Bengalweb.com's effort to compile historical information with photographs
- The Statesman
- The Telegraph
- Kolkata Beckons
- Consulate of the United States of America
- Calcutta - Calcutta Global Forum
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