For old time’s sake, today let’s just refer to Kolkata as Calcutta.
The word ‘Calcutta’ is not merely a word; it is an emotion, a feeling that can lighten up every Bengali’s heart.
While we often take the path lesser traveled on as far as our stories go, this time we took the cliched path!
Many of us often complain that Kolkata is a lazy city which is why most of our young bloods are fleeing towards better opportunities elsewhere. But ask any of these little birds what Calcutta means to them and see their face brighten up.
You can take a Bengali out of Calcutta but you cannot take Calcutta out of a Bengali. Calcutta is where the heart is.
Here are some interesting facts about the enchanting beauty called Calcutta, which overwhelm you with pride. Let us take a few moments to reminiscence our glory of the past and present.
1) Calcutta was the first Capital under British India. Even they were smitten by her beauty. So much was her importance that she was the second city of the British Empire, after London of course.
2) Calcutta is the second largest Indian city, after New Delhi. Size matters and we are proud of ours.
3) Calcutta was home to 5 Nobel Laureates – the most in any Asian Mainland city (apart from Tokyo and Kyoto).
Sir Ronald Ross, Rabindranath Tagore, Sir C V Raman, Amartya Sen and Mother Teresa. No wonder we are called the cultural and intellectual city.
4) The World’s largest tree in terms of area covered, The great Banyan Tree, Botanical Garden, has its roots fixed firmly in Kolkata.
With around 14,500 square meters, It is estimated to be around 1200 years old tree with around 3300 roots falling to the surface. It is almost a mini forest in itself.
5) The Khidderpore Port is the oldest port in India besides being the only riverine port in the country.
6) Kolkata has the largest Chinese population among other states in India.
So it is no surprise that Calcutta is considered the birthplace of a fusion cuisine, now popular as ‘Indian-Chinese’.
7) Kolkata houses the office of the Overseas Chinese Commerce of India, the only Chinese newspaper published in India.
8) Kolkata is the only city in India with Hand pulled Rickshaws.
So don’t be surprised if you are caught in traffic with a rickshaw on one side and a horse-carriage on the other side while you are amidst buses, cars, trams and two-wheelers.
9) Kolkata is the only city in South Asia and India with Trams.
While the world is running a race, Calcutta prefers its easy pace with its rustic charm.
10) There was no “Kolkata” Railway station till the year 2006, the current Kolkata station was previously called Chitpur Station and was only used as a Rail Yard and a goods terminal.
Since time immemorial, we have been commuting through two stations in Kolkata, namely Sealdah station and Howrah Station , which is the busiest railway station in India, in terms of unique trains it handles daily. It also has biggest station complex and is the second oldest railway station in India. Also, the second passenger train in India plied from Howrah to Hooghly on 15th August, 1854. Quite some history there!
11) Kolkata was the first Indian city to have the metro train.
Our metros have been plying over two decades now. Calcutta has tracks running on the surface as well as below the ground. Isn’t that fascinating?
12) We might look all geeky but trust us when it comes to sports.
We have enthusiasm running in our veins. Here, each game is given its due importance therefore; our Salt-lake stadium is the Football stadium with second highest seating capacity in world. The Eden Gardens Cricket Ground is the stadium is the third largest cricket stadium in the world by seating capacity. The Calcutta football league is the oldest football league in Asia and the second oldest football league in the World, it was started in the year 1898. The Calcutta Cricket and Football Club is the second oldest cricket club in the world, second only to the MCC, the rule makers of cricket. The Royal Calcutta Golf Club, was the first Golf club outside the United Kingdom. The Calcutta Polo club is the oldest extant polo club in the world. Phew!
13) When we have characters like Feluda and Bomykesh, who fascinate us, how can you expect us not to have a little bookworm in each one of us?
Calcutta provides us with enough resources to cater to our needs. College street in Kolkata is the largest second hand book market in the world and the largest book market in India, there is a saying in Kolkata that if you can’t find a book in college street, it probably doesn’t exist! The National Library of India, Kolkata is the largest library in India. After the Frankfurt Book Fair and the London Book Fair, Kolkata Book fair is recognized as the world’s largest conglomeration of books! Besides, it’s one of a kind and Asia’s largest book fair—it is also the most-attended book fair in the world! It is also the world’s largest non trade Book fair!!
14) Kolkata holds the Second Largest Planetarium in the world, and the largest planetarium in Asia: Birla Planetarium, Kolkata.
15) Kolkata has many museums but among them it houses the Largest museum in India – Indian Museum, Kolkata
16) Did you know the Howrah Bridge is one of the world’s largest cantilever bridge? and perhaps the only one in India? Well, it is!
17) Alipore Zoo, Kolkata is the oldest zoo in India. Yes, you read that right. You should see the crowd it still gets.
Oh Calcutta! We never seem to get enough of this charming city. The beauty lies in its old world charm. Calcutta is a city where life is too fast and too slow simultaneously. You can call it a city of extremes or an artists’ paradise but there is no escaping its spell. It is the very soul to our existence.