The harbinger of international trade, or the prominent hub of East India, or rather the nucleus of Bengal renaissance, call it what you will but these titles would ring clear in the name of “Kolkata”, should they even fall on deaf ears.
Kolkata is the official capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. The roots of the city itself can be traced to a cluster of three villages, ruled upon by the Nawab of Bengal. The city was the first destination of a group of British traders as the Indian landmass bore witness to the exchange of commodities like silk, cotton, opium, among others, crisscrossing its waters.
It soon became the most consequential city economically and also saw a massive fillip in political prominence as the foreign traders saw to the ruffled feathers of Indian monarchs. It was also the capital of British-held territories in India until 1911, it served as the center for freedom movements and political strife. The carnival of cultural mixtures in the 20th century came alive with the most exuberant diversity, culturally and traditionally, and Kolkata was the hub for it all.
“Kolkata” comes from the Bengali term “Kolikata”, it was the name of one of three foundation villages. The root word has multiple explanations, none of which are indisputably concrete.
The pronunciation though has shown marked variation from the anglicised “Calcutta” to its reversion back match the Bengali pronunciation “Kolkata”.
Estimates suggest Kolkata’s economy has ranged from $60 to $150 billion and it falls in the third most productive area after Mumbai and Delhi. Kolkata also has many industrial units operated by large public- and private-sector corporations with giants such as ITC Limited, Brittania Industries supporting the booming economy with its headquarters.
Kolkata was, in fact, one of the first international economic hubs that India ever saw, buttressing and vitalizing the trade that happened over international waters. Localisation in the 1990’s further enhanced the city’s fortunes, coupled with the economic changes adopted by the government, the economy saw remarkable amelioration till the latter part of last decade.
Occupying the east bank of the Hooghly river, it resides within the lower Ganges delta of eastern India. It has an elevation of about 1.5 to 9 meters.
- Urban structure :
Kolkata is one of the very rare cities that can boast of there municipal corporations, 39 local municipalities, and 25 panchayat samitis, as of 2011. It has an area of 185 km square.
Private agencies and public operators offer bus services, which continues to form the most commonly used form of transport in spite of a wide range of transport services such as Metro, Trams and Railway suburbs. It also serves as the headquarters to three out of the seventeen railway zones in the country. Kolkata is the only city that can boast of having a running tram network, which is limited to certain parts of the city. It ranks the top among the six cities surveyed in India, in terms of public transport. (including the likes of Delhi and Mumbai)
- Rail :
Kolkata has four long-distance railway stations, located at Howrah, which is the largest railway complex in the country. It also has rail connectivity with Dhaka as well.
- Air :
With the latest up-gradation, Netaji Subash Chandra International Airport caters to domestic as well as international flights, supporting relatively heavy air traffic.
- Road :
Air-conditioned radio taxis, cycle rickshaws, well-serviced buses occupy the well-maintained roads in abundance. The Kolkata-Delhi and Kolkata-Chennai hold a substantial portion of the Golden Quadrilateral, and National Highway 24 starts from the city itself.
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