A city of Joy and Love, Grandeur and Glory… Kolkata alias Calcutta is full of life and bustle, verging on the chaotic as traditional occupations rub shoulders with ultra modern industries. Kolkata is India’s second largest city and the capital of West Bengal, situated at the point where the Indian subcontinent starts to narrow into the triangular southern peninsula. The tourist attractions in the city bring together the best of archaic as well as contemporary India.
Formerly the capital of British India (1772-1912), it is a city with a great deal of charm - its imperial monuments, strong cultural and religious flavour leaves an indelible impression on the visitor. With a number of tourist places to visit that are a testimony of its glorious past, Kolkata is a must visit, as you explore the wonder that is ‘India’.
West Bengal has a tropical climate. Four clearly marked seasons with a brief interregnum of spring are observed, namely the hot season, the rainy season, the post monsoon season corresponding to autumn and the cold season.
The hot season lasts from mid-March to mid-June, with the day temperature ranging from 38°C to 45°C in different parts of the state. At nights, a cool southerly breeze carrying moisture from the Bay of Bengal is usually present.
The monsoon arrives by a middle of June. Its scouts start arriving about two weeks before its normal onset. This is called the Chhota monsoon which breaks the hot spell of summer. The monsoon rains in west Bengal are caused solely by the current of wind from the Bay of Bengal. Variability is a characteristic feature of the monsoon in west Bengal as well as Bangladesh and Orissa which all receive the impact of the south-west Bay current. Breaks in the continuity of rain are not unusual, the resultant thoughts of low pressure develop into cyclone storms especially towards the end of the season and in early autumn.
A welcome change in the weather begins to be distinctly felt towards the end of September. Autumn in West Bengal is the season for festivity in the fields the golden grain of paddy starts ripening and is harvested towards the end of the season. The conclusion of the round of the festivities marks the onset of the winter in mid-November.
Winter, which lasts about three months, is mild over the plains, the average minimum temperature not falling beyond 15°C. It is attended by a cold and dry northern wind, substantially lowering the humidity level. Winter is the season for the rabi crops-pulses, potato and vegetables and citrus fruits that grow on the Darjeeling hills. There occurs a short interregnum of clouds and rain usually the last week of December and the first week of January, caused by the incursion of the western monsoon coming all the way from the Arabian Sea. The cold is severe on the hills and there are sometimes sleet and snow on the higher reaches during the days of rain.
The weather gets warmer by the middle February, which heralds a brief spring season lasting about a month during which the deciduous trees break out in young green leaves and flowers. But this mellow season is too short-lived and the heat is turned on until with the coming of April, clammy summer comes in full blast and the annual cycle of seasons rolls on once again.
Fairs & Festivals
The festive spirit sets in with Durga Puja, a five day ritual and celebration for the ten-armed goddess DURGA. A major festival when excitement and activity touches a feverish pitch. The city is as beautifully adorned, as the Goddess herself, and the hustle and bustle of people on the streets, the street food and cheer spell fun and enjoyment to people of all ages.
Diwali, the festival of lights, is the worship of Goddess Kali. Clay lamps, innovative firecrackers, good food and lots of cheer are a part of this festival.
Rathjatra, organised by ISKON, is Lord Jagannath’s Chariot festival. Pulling the ropes that actually help the chariot move, is considered very auspicious.
Holi, the festival of colours, is a celebration of the spring season. The chaotic mix of colours, laughter and hot "jalebi" make this day special.
Muslim festivals, the two Ids, are also celebrated with great rejoicing.
Unique, perhaps, is the Christmas festivity that continues till the New Year.
From November, part of Kolkata's heritage, The Maidan, is converted into fairgrounds. The Textile Fair, Art & Handicrafts Fair, Leather Exhibition and the famous Kolkata Book Fair are the favourites. The city is resonant with Film and Theatre Festivals, Music Concerts, Rock Shows, Art Exhibitions and various other cultural activities. Even the Fairs of RURAL BENGAL, featuring arts and crafts of the state are held.
- Area: 88,752 sq. kms.
- Population: 68,077,965
- Literates: 57.72%
- Languages spoken: English, Hindi & Bengali
- Capital: Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta)
- Districts: 19
- Airport: Netaji Subhash Airport is situated at Dumdum, around 17km northeast of the city centre.
- Climate: Tropical
Summer: Mid-March To Mid Of June (Min. 38°C - Max. 45°C)
Monsoon: Mid June To End September
Winter: Late November To Mid-February (Min. 15°C)
- Tourist season: Throughout the year
- Peak season: October to March
Places to See
- Victoria Memorial: This is one of India’s most beautiful monument built between 1906 and 1921 on the lines of white marble. It stands on the southern side of the maidan (ground) near Jawaharlal Nehru Road. All monuments of this memorial were designed in Italian Renaissance-Mughal style and build of white marble from Rajasthan.
- Howrah Bridge: It is considered to be an engineering marvel, which took six years to construct in the 1940s. Over 2,590 metric tonnes of high tensile steel make up this unique cantilever bridge that joins the main Railway Station (for Calcutta) and the industrial city of Howrah with the city of Calcutta. Supported by two piers, each nearly 90 meters in height above the road level, the bridge has a span of almost 500 meters (no pillars in the middle). It was opened in 1943 and today it is one of the busiest bridges in the world. It is the third largest bridge in the world, has around 2 million people crossing over it daily. Visible from many places in Calcutta, the bridge is called ‘Rabindra Setu’.
- Kumartuli: It is at Chitpur Road. Many Kumars or potters work here to create millions of clay images that serve as idols for Calcutta’s never-ending season of festivals.
- Fort William: It is situated on the east bank of the river Hooghly and was named after King William III of England. It is surrounded by a 50ft high moat. It was built in 1757 after Robert Clive’s victory at Plassey over Siraj ud-Daula. This fort was completed to prevent attacks from Muslim invaders. The fort walls, barracks, stables and the church of St. Peter are still intact. The area cleared around Fort William became the Maidan. In the fort, there is a church, market, post and telegraph office, cinema, swimming pool, boxing stadium, football and firing range. The Arsenal inside is worth visiting for which a prior permission is required from the Commanding Officer.
- Science City: Science City, which is located on Calcutta's Eastern Metropolitan By Pass, is an area of knowledge and adventure. This 21st Century marvel of science, communication and environment is the first and only institution of it’s kind in India and has a Space Theatre. The main attraction of the Science City is the Space Flight, Dinosaurs Alive, Dynamotion, Life in Water, a world of Insects and Reptiles, walkthrough Aviary, Butterfly corner, Convention Centre, four seminar halls, Mini Auditorium, Musical fountain etc. This convention centre complex has a 2215 person capacity main auditorium, 40 capacity mini auditorium and 8 seminar halls. It is open to public every day from 9AM to 9PM (Even on public holidays).
- Birla Mandir: It is located on Asutosh Chowdhury Avenue. It is the latest addition to the places of visit in Calcutta. It wad Build over twenty-two years of painstaking labor; it is an all-marble structure with very high quality rajasthani engravings. It attracts huge crowds and is splendid and imposing structure in white.
- Eden Gardens Stadium: Alongside the Eden Gardens is the world famous Eden Gardens Cricket Stadium. The stadium is supposed to be the largest in Asia with a seating capacity of more than lakh spectators. It was one of the first cricket stadiums in India where floodlights were installed and Day & Night cricket was played. The gigantic electronic scoreboard is also one of its kinds in the country. The stadium has had the privilege of hosting the most important of matches like World Cup Finals 1987, World Cup Semi Finals 1996, Hero Cup and many other tournaments.
- Saheed Minar: This 165 ft high monument similar to Qutab Minar of Delhi was erected by public subscription in 1828, to honour Sir David Ochter Lony, a one- time resident of Malwa & Rajputana. More recently, it has now been renamed ‘Shaheed Minar‘ to honour the martyrs of the freedom struggle. An important landmark in Calcutta. It is located at the Northern end of the Maidan.
- Vidyasagar Setu: Vidyasagar Setu is a modern day engineering marvel and is the largest cable stayed bridge in Asia. Near the Race Course, It is the imposing and ultra-modern Second Hoogly Bridge. The bridge connects the twin cities of Calcutta and Howrah. It was inaugurated in the year 1992. It was built at a cost of Rs. 388 crores. It is capable of handling around, 85,000 vehicles daily on 9 lanes. A beautiful bridge that spans the Hooghly, it has been built to ease the load off existing Howrah Bridge. It affords a panoramic view of the Calcutta skyline.
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