Kolkata (কলকাতা)
City of Joy, Cultural Capital of India, Literary Capital of India, City of Furious Creative Energy, City of Palaces, City of All Cities, City of Bridges in India, City of Football in India,[1] Paris of the East[2]
—  metropolitan city  —
Clockwise from top: Victoria Memorial, St. Paul's Cathedral, Downtown Kolkata, Howrah Bridge, Kolkata tram, Vidyasagar Setu Bridge
Kolkata (কলকাতা)
Map of Kolkata
Coordinates 22°34′11″N 88°22′11″E / 22.56972°N 88.36972°E / 22.56972; 88.36972Coordinates: 22°34′11″N 88°22′11″E / 22.56972°N 88.36972°E / 22.56972; 88.36972
Former name Calcutta
Country India
State West Bengal
District(s) Calcutta
Mayor Sovan Chatterjee[3] (TMC)


4,486,679[4] (5th) (2011)

24,252.3 /km2 (62,813 /sq mi)
14,112,536[5] (3rd) (2011)

Spoken languages
Ethnic groups 
Time zone IST (UTC+05:30)


185 square kilometres (71 sq mi)

9 metres (30 ft)

Website www.kmcgov.in

Kolkata (play /ˈklkʌtɑː/; Bengali: কলকাতা, Kolkatā, IPA: [Kolkatā] ( listen)), formerly known as Calcutta, is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. Located on the east bank of the Hooghly River[7], it was the commercial capital of East India. The city proper has 4.5 million residents, and the metropolitan area, including suburbs, has a population of approximately 14.2 million, making it the third most populous metropolitan area in India and the 13th most populous urban area in the world. Kolkata is also classified as the eighth largest urban agglomeration in the world.[8]

Kolkata served as the capital of India during the British Raj until 1911, when its perceived geographical disadvantages and a growing nationalism in Bengal led officials to shift the capital to New Delhi. The city is noted for its vibrant political culture. It was a center of the Indian struggle for independence and remains a hotbed of contemporary politics. Once the center of modern education, science, culture, and politics in India, Kolkata witnessed economic stagnation in the years following India's independence in 1947. However, since the year 2000, economic rejuvenation has led to an acceleration in the city's growth. Like other metropolitan cities in developing countries, Kolkata continues to struggle with contemporary urban problems like pollution and traffic congestion. Despite such problems, it remains the dominant urban area of eastern India and the major economic, educational and cultural hub.



The name "Kolkatā" (and the anglicised name Calcutta) has its roots in Kalikatā, the name of one of the three villages (Kalikatā, Sutanuti, Govindapur) in the area before the arrival of the British.[9] "Kalikata", in turn, is believed to be a version of Kalikshetra (Bengali: কালীক্ষেত্র, Kalikkhetro "Land of [the goddess] Kāli"). Alternatively, the name may have been derived from the Bengali term kilkilā ("flat area").[10] Again, the name may have its origin in the indigenous term for a natural canal, Khal, followed by Katta (which may mean dug).[11] There is also another theory that the place used to specialize in quicklime (kali chun) and coir rope (kátá) and hence the place was called Kalikátá.[12]

Thus, while the city's name has always been pronounced "Kolkatā" or "Kolikatā" in the local language, its official English name was changed from "Calcutta" to "Kolkata" in 2001, in order to reflect the original pronunciation. In part, this was a move to erase the negative legacy of British rule.[13] (See also "Renaming of cities in India".) This change has not always been reflected by overseas media, but news sources like the BBC have opted to call Bombay Mumbai, Madras Chennai[14] and Calcutta Kolkata.[15]


The discovery of the nearby Chandraketugarh,[16] an archaeological site, provides evidence that the area has been inhabited for over two millennia.[17] The city's documented history, however, begins with the arrival of the English East India Company in 1690, when the Company was consolidating its trade business in Bengal. Job Charnock, an administrator with the company was traditionally credited as the founder of the city.[10] However some academics have recently challenged the view that Charnock was the founder, and in response to public interest, the High Court ruled in 2003 that the city does not have a specific founder.[18]

Up to 18th century Kolkata was under indirect rule of the Nawab of Bengal comprised three villages Kalikata, Gobindapur and Sutanuti. These villages were part of a khas mahal or imperial jagir or an estate belonging to the Mughal emperor himself, whose jagirdari rights were held by the Sabarna Roy Choudhury family. Against the wishes of this family and in spite of their protests, the rights over these villages were transferred to the East India Company in 1698.[19]

Map of Calcutta during 1784-85.

The British in the late 17th century wanted to build a fort near Gobindapur in order to consolidate their power over other foreign powers — namely the Dutch, the Portuguese, and the French. In 1702, the British completed the construction of old Fort William,[20] which was used to station its troops and as a regional base. Calcutta was declared a Presidency City, and later became the headquarters of the Bengal Presidency.[21] Faced with frequent skirmishes with French forces, in 1756 the British began to upgrade their fortifications. When protests against the militarisation by the Nawab of Bengal Siraj-Ud-Daulah went unheeded he attacked and captured Fort William, leading to the infamous Black Hole of Calcutta incident.[22] A force of Company sepoys and British troops led by Robert Clive recaptured the city the following year.[22] Calcutta was named the capital of British India in 1772, and starting in 1864 during the summer months, the capital was temporarily shifted to the hill station of Shimla.[23] In the early 19th century the marshes surrounding the city were drained and the government area was laid out along the banks of the Hooghly River. Richard Wellesley, the Governor General between 1797–1805, was largely responsible for the growth of the city and its public architecture which led to the description of Calcutta as "The City of Palaces".[24] The city was a centre of the British East India Company's opium trade during the late 18th and 19th century.[25]

Esplanade in Calcutta, 1859

By the 1850s, Kolkata was split into two distinct areas — one British (known as the White Town) centred around Chowringhee, the other Indian centred around North Calcutta.[26] The city underwent rapid industrial growth from the early 1850s, especially in the textile and jute industries: this caused massive investment by British companies in infrastructure such as Howrah station and telegraph connections. The coalescence of British and Indian culture resulted in the emergence of a new Babu class of urbane Indians — whose members were often bureaucrats, professionals, newspaper readers, Anglophiles, and usually belonged to upper-caste Hindu communities.[27] Throughout the nineteenth century, a socio-cultural reform, often referred to as the Bengal Renaissance resulted in the general uplifting of the people. In 1883, Surendranath Banerjee organised a national conference — the first of its kind in nineteenth century India.[10] Gradually Calcutta became a centre of the Indian independence movement, especially revolutionary organisations. The 1905 partition of Bengal on communal grounds resulted in widespread public agitation and the boycott of British goods (Swadeshi movement).[28] These activities, along with the administratively disadvantageous location of Calcutta in the eastern fringes of India, prompted the British to move the capital to New Delhi in 1911.[29] The city and its port were bombed several times by the Japanese during World War II,[30] the first occasion being 20 December 1942,[31] and the last being 24 December 1944.[32] During the war, millions starved to death during the Bengal famine of 1943, caused by a combination of military, administrative and natural factors.[33] In 1946, demands for the creation of a Muslim state led to large-scale communal violence resulting in the deaths of over 4,000 people.[34][35][36] The partition of India also created intense violence and a shift in demographics — large numbers of Muslims left for East Pakistan, while hundreds of thousands of Hindus fled into the city.[37] Over the 1960s and 1970s, severe power shortages, strikes and a violent Marxist-Maoist movement — the Naxalites — damaged much of the city's infrastructure, leading to a period of economic stagnation.[38] In 1971, Bangladesh liberation war led to the mass influx of thousands of refugees into Kolkata resulting in a massive strain on its infrastructure.[39] In the mid-1980s, Bombay, now Mumbai, overtook Kolkata as India's most populous city. In 1985 Rajiv Gandhi referred to Kolkata as a "dying city" because of the social and political traumas.[40] Kolkata has been a important base for Communism as West Bengal was ruled by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M))-dominated Left Front for 34 years (1977–2011) — the world's longest-running democratically elected communist government.[41][42] The city's economic recovery gathered momentum after economic reforms in India introduced by the central government in the mid-1990s. Since 2000, Information Technology (IT) services have revitalized the city’s stagnant economy. The city is also experiencing a growth in the manufacturing sector.[43]


Kolkata seen from Spot Satellite

Kolkata is located in the eastern part India at 22°33′N 88°20′E / 22.55°N 88.333°E / 22.55; 88.333 in the Ganges Delta at an elevation ranging between 1.5 m (5 ft) to 9 m (30 ft).[44] 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.[45] The remaining wetland, known as East Calcutta Wetlands has been designated a "wetland of international importance" under the Ramsar Convention.[46]

Like the most of the Indo-Gangetic plains, the predominant soil and water type is alluvial. Quaternary sediments consisting of clay, silt, various grades of sand and gravel underlie the city. These sediments are sandwiched between two clay beds, the lower one at depths between 250 m (820 ft) and 650 m (2,133 ft) and the upper one ranging between 10 m (33 ft) and 40 m (131 ft) in thickness.[47] According to the Bureau of Indian Standards, the town falls under seismic zone-III, in a scale of I to V (in order of increasing proneness to earthquakes)[48] while the wind and cyclone zoning is "very high damage risk", according to UNDP report.[48]

Urban structure

The Kolkata skyline from Maidan
Kolkata Central Business District

Kolkata city, under the jurisdiction of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC), has an area of 185 km2 (71 sq mi).[49] The Kolkata conurbation (Kolkata Metropolitan Area), however, is spread over 1,750 km2 (676 sq mi),[49] and comprises 157 postal areas, as of 2006.[50] The metropolitan area is formally administered by several local governments including 38 local municipalities. The urban agglomeration comprises 72 cities and 527 towns and villages.[49] The suburban areas of Kolkata metropolitan district incorporates parts of the districts North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly and Nadia.

The east-to-west dimension of the city through the Center is narrow, stretching from the Hooghly River in the west to roughly the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass in the east, a span of barely 9 km (5.6 mi)–10 km (6.2 mi).[51] The north-south expansion, the longitudinal expanse, is pretty vast and is broadly divided into North, Central and South Kolkata.

North Kolkata locality is the oldest part of the city, with primarily 19th century architecture and narrow alleyways & includes areas like Shyambazar, Shobhabazar, Chitpur, Cossipore, Baranagar, Sinthee & Dum Dum. The City Airport NSCB International Airport is situated at the Northeast fringes.

Residential highrises in Kolkata - South City on PAS Road

Central Kolkata houses the Central Business District, one around the B. B. D. Bagh area with Esplanade to its East and Strand Road to its West. It has been proclaimed as a Heritage Zone. The Government Secretariat, General Post Office, Reserve Bank of India, High Court, Lalbazar Police HQs and several other government and private offices are located here. The second CBD is in the area south of Park Street and comprises main thoroughfares like Jawaharlal Nehru Road, Camac Street, Wood Street, Loudon Street, Shakespeare Sarani & AJC Bose Road. This area houses numerous modern day Office towers inhibited by many companies, is also considered the hi-streets of Kolkata with many Retail & Entertainment zones and houses premium residential addresses as well. The Maidan is a large open field in the heart of the city, often referred to as the "Lungs of Kolkata", where several sporting events and public meetings are held. Several statues of Britisher colonial officials and Indian freedom fighters and martyrs are erected in the Maidan area. The Victoria Memorial and The Kolkata Race Course are situated at the Southern end of the Maidan. Other notable parks in the city include Central Park in Bidhannagar and Millenium Park at Strand Road, beside the Hooghly river.

Uniworld City, New Town

South Kolkata stretch grew mostly after independence of India and consists of localities such as Ballygunge, Alipore, New Alipore, Lansdowne, Bhawanipore, Tollygunge, Jodhpur Park, Lake Gardens, Golf Green, Jadavpur & Kasba in the core which are primarily the upscale localities of the city. The Southern fringe areas include areas like Garden Reach, Behala, Thakurpukur, Kudghat, Ranikuthi, Bansdroni, Baghajatin & Garia from Southwest to Southeast respectively.

Two recently developed planned areas of Kolkata are Salt Lake City (Bidhannagar) to the Northeast and Rajarhat, also called New Town, to the East of Bidhannagar. The former was developed between 1958 and 1965 and the latter was started in the 2000 to accommodate the burgeoning population of Kolkata. Sector V in Salt Lake has rapidly developed, over the past decade, into a CBD for Major IT/ITES & Telecom Companies. New Town is developed in a planned manner, with spaces for residential area, commercial hub, educational hub and a financial hub. However, both Salt Lake and New Town are situated outside the Kolkata Municipal Corporation limits and have their own municipalities.


Monsoon clouds over Howrah Bridge

Kolkata has a tropical wet-and-dry climate (Köppen climate classification Aw). 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).[52] Summers are hot and humid with temperatures in the low 30's and during dry spells the maximum temperatures often exceed 40 °C (104 °F) during May and June.[52] Winter tends to last for only about two and a half months, with seasonal lows dipping to 9 °C – 11 °C (54 °F – 57 °F) between December and January. The highest recorded temperature is 43.9 °C (111.0 °F) and the lowest is 5 °C (41.0 °F).[52] On average, May is the hottest month with daily temperatures ranging from a low of 27 °C (80.6 °F) to a maximum of 37 °C (98.6 °F), while January the coldest month has temperatures varying from a low of 12 °C (53.6 °F) to a maximum of 23 °C (73.4 °F). Often during early summer, dusty squalls followed by spells of thunderstorms or hailstorms and heavy rains with ice sleets lash the city, bringing relief from the humid heat. These thunderstorms are convective in nature, and are locally known as Kal baisakhi (Bengali: কালবৈশাখী, Nor'westers).[53]

Rains brought by the Bay of Bengal branch of the South-West monsoon[54] lash the city between June and September and supply the city with most of its annual rainfall of 1,582 mm (62 in). The highest rainfall occurs during the monsoon in August—306 mm (12 in). The city receives 2,528 hours of sunshine per annum, with the maximum sunlight occurring in March.[55] Pollution is a major concern in Kolkata, and the Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) level is high when compared to other major cities of India, leading to regular smog and haze.[56][57] Severe air pollution in the city has caused a rise in pollution-related respiratory ailments such as lung cancer.[58] Kolkata has been hit by several cyclones, including the cyclones of 1737 and 1864 that killed thousands of people.[59][60]

Climate data for Kolkata (1971–1990)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 26.4
Average low °C (°F) 13.8
Rainfall mm (inches) 11
Avg. rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm) 1.2 2.2 3.0 4.8 8.7 14.7 20.5 20.2 15.7 8.1 1.5 0.9 101.5
Sunshine hours 204.6 203.4 226.3 234.0 226.3 123.0 93.0 105.4 117.0 182.9 192.0 204.6 2,112.5
Source: HKO [61]


A street flower market
Tata Centre, Jawaharlal Nehru Road
DLF IT Park, New Town

Kolkata is the main business, commercial and financial hub of East India and the northeastern states. It is home to the Calcutta Stock Exchange — India's second-largest bourse.[62][63]

Until recently, flexible production had always been the norm in Kolkata, and the informal sector has comprised more than 40% of the labour force.[64] For example, roadside hawkers generated business worth Rs. 8,772 crore (around 2 billion U.S. dollars) in 2005.[65] State and federal government employees make up a large percentage of the city's workforce. The city has a large unskilled and semi-skilled labour population, along with other blue-collar and knowledge workers.

As in many other Indian cities, Information Technology became a major growing sector in Kolkata since late 1990s, with the IT sector growing at 70% yearly — twice that of the national average.[43] Currently, nearly all IT majors like TCS, IBM, Wipro, Cognizant, Genpact, Capgemini are operating big time & expanding rapidly with companies like Accenture & Infosys also announcing their foray into the City. Computer & Telecom majors like HP, Ericsson, Nikon India have all set up shop here.

In recent years there has been a surge of investments in the Realty and Infrastructure sector with large number of big housing projects completed as well as upcoming in the city led by companies such as Tata Housing Development Company, DLF Limited, Unitech Group, Ideal Group, Shapoorji Pallonji, Mani Group, Merlin Projects, Ambuja Realty, Salarpuria Group, PS Group, Infinity Projects and many more Real Estate giants. This has resulted in a construction boom with numerous residential, commercial & hospitality projects taking shape keeping in sync with an upswing economy.

Kolkata is home to many industrial units operated by large Indian corporations, both PSU's & Private Limited, with products ranging from steel, heavy engineering, mining & minerals, power, cement, pharma, food processing & agro, electronics, textiles & jute among others. Some notable companies headquartered in Kolkata include ITC Limited, Tata Steel Processing & Distribution Ltd, Tata Metaliks, Coal India Limited, Visa Group, Goodricke Group, India Government Mint, Haldia Petrochemicals, Exide Industries, Hindustan Motors, Britannia Industries, Bata India, Birla Corporation, Shree Cements, CESC Limited, RPG Group, Texmaco Limited,[66] Bengal Ambuja, Philips India, Eveready Industries, Patton, Damodar Valley Corporation, PwC India, Peerless Group, Adhunik Group and many more. Recently, various events like adoption of "Look East" policy by the government of India, opening of the Nathu La Pass in Sikkim as a border trade-route with China and immense interest in the South East Asian countries to enter the Indian market and invest have put Kolkata in an advantageous position for development in future, particularly with likes of Myanmar.[67][68] Kolkata is also an important centre for Banking and Finance. At present it has the headquarters of three large nationalized banks Allahabad Bank, Uco Bank and United Bank of India. The City is all set to get a dedicated Financial Hub at Rajarhat New Town area, the second such hub planned in India after Mumbai.

ITC Sonar Hotel, E M Bypass
South City Mall, PAS Road

The Retail and the Hospitality sectors have opened up the floodgates in Kolkata. The city's first Organised Retail zone came up in the year 2000 and today the City houses 19 Malls apart from numerous Shopping Centres, Large Format Retail stores and local Municipal Markets. Around 20 more Malls which are currently under various stages of development and construction, are slated to come up by 2014. The same scenario is witnessed in the hospitality sector as well. The City which houses several 5* and 4* hotel brands like ITC Sonar, Taj Bengal, Hyatt Regency, Oberoi Grand, The Park, Swissotel, HHI[disambiguation needed ], Best Western Vedic Village, Peerless Inn, Chrome and ITC Fortune among others, is seeing a phenomenal growth with about 25 new projects under construction or proposed to come up by 2015 with big names like Radisson Blu, JW Marriott, Westin, Novotel, Taj Gateway and Crowne Plaza among them, adding nearly 5000 rooms to the city coffers.

Civic administration

Kolkata City officials
Sovan Chatterjee[3]
Police Commissioner:
Ranjit Kumar Pachnanda[69]
Writers' Building, Seat of the West Bengal Government

The civic administration of Kolkata is executed by several government agencies, and consists of overlapping structural divisions. At least five administrative definitions of the city are available; listed in ascending order of area, those are:

  1. Kolkata District,
  2. the Kolkata Police area (Divisions of Kolkata Police),
  3. the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) area ("Kolkata city"),
  4. "Greater Kolkata", which includes the KMC area and a few neighbourhoods adjacent to it, and
  5. the urban agglomeration or Kolkata Metropolitan Area (KMDA) is responsible for the statutory planning and development of the metropolitan area).

Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC)- The governance of the city proper—the area within which KMC has a directly elected council of 141 ward councilors who elect a council Chairman and an executive Mayor. The Mayor, in turn chooses a Deputy Mayor and not more than 10 elected councillors to form the Mayor-in-Council which works like a cabinet. In addition, there is a Municipal Accounts Committee (MAC)of five to seven elected councillors, other than the MiC, chosen through proportional representation, to act like a public accounts committee (PAC), usually headed by the Leader of Opposition. The MiC was introduced in 1980 and the system has been replicated in other Municipalities and Panchayats as Mayor/ Chairperson-in-council during 1981-1991. No other state in India has introduced a system of political executive in local government.

The main functions of the KMC are water supply, drainage and sewerage, sanitation, solid waste management, streets and public places, street lighting, and building regulation. Fire services are handled by a state agency- Kolkata Fire Brigade. Similarly, for the river port services, there is a Kolkata Port Trust, an agency of the central government.[70]

Other authorities: the Collector of the Kolkata District, the Kolkata Police, the District Magistrate (DM) of South 24 Parganas District, and the (SP) of South 24 Parganas District.[71] As of 2010, the All India Trinamool Congress holds the power in KMC, its mayor is Sovan Chatterjee while the deputy mayor is Farzana Alam.[72] The city also has an apolitical titular post, that of the Sheriff of Kolkata.

As the capital of the state and the seat of the Government of West Bengal, Kolkata houses not only the offices of the local governing agencies, but also the West Bengal Legislative Assembly, the state Secretariat (Writers' Building) and the Calcutta High Court. Kolkata also has lower courts; the Small Causes Court for civil matters, and the Sessions Court for criminal cases. The Kolkata Police, headed by the Police Commissioner, comes under the West Bengal Home Ministry. The city elects three representatives to the Lok Sabha (India's lower house) and 21 representatives to the state Legislative Assembly.[73]

Utility services

VSNL tower of Tata Communications, a major telecom service provider in India

The Kolkata Municipal Corporation supplies potable water to the city, sourced from the Hooghly River. The water is purified and treated at Palta water pumping station located in North 24 Parganas. Almost all of Kolkata's daily refuse of 2500 tonnes is transported to the dumping grounds in Dhapa to the east of the town. Agriculture on this dumping ground is encouraged for natural recycling of garbage and sewer water.[74] Parts of the city still lack sewage facilities leading to unsanitary methods of waste disposal.[55] Electricity is supplied by the privately operated Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation (CESC) to the city region, and by the West Bengal State Electricity Board in the suburbs. Frequent interruption of power supply was a problem until the mid 1990s; however the situation has since improved immensely with seldom power cuts occurring presently. The city has 20 fire stations (under West Bengal Fire Service) that attend to 7,500 fire and rescue calls on average per year.[75]

State-owned BSNL and private enterprises like Vodafone, Airtel, Reliance Communications, Uninor, Idea Cellular, Aircel, Tata DoCoMo, Tata Indicom, Virgin Mobile and MTS India are the leading telephone and cell phone service providers in the city. Cellular coverage is extensive with both GSM and CDMA services being available. Broadband Internet penetration has steadily increased with BSNL, Tata Indicom, Sify, Airtel, Reliance and Alliance being the leading service providers.


TV Tower at Golf Green

Newspapers & Periodicals

Bengali language newspapers like Anandabazar Patrika, Bartaman, Sangbad Pratidin, Jago Bangla, Aajkaal, Dainik Statesman , Ganashakti, Ekdin are widely circulated. The Statesman and The Telegraph are two major English language newspapers that are produced and published from Kolkata. Other popular English language newspapers published and sold in Kolkata include the Times of India, Hindustan Times, The Hindu, The Indian Express and the Asian Age. Being the biggest trading market in East India, Kolkata has a substantial readership of many financial dailies including The Economic Times, The Financial Express, Business Line and Business Standard.[76] Vernacular newspapers such as those in Hindi, Urdu, Gujarati, Oriya, Punjabi and Chinese are also read by a minority.

Some major periodicals from Kolkata are Desh, Sananda, Unish Kuri, Kindle[disambiguation needed ], Anandalok and Anandamela. Historically, Kolkata has also been the center of the Bengali little magazine movement.

Radio & TV

All India Radio (AIR), the state-owned radio broadcaster, airs several AM radio stations in the city. Kolkata has 12 local FM radio stations, including two from AIR. The state-owned television broadcaster Doordarshan provides two free terrestrial channels, while four MSO provide a mix of Bengali, Hindi, English and other regional channels via cable. Bengali 24-hour television news channels include STAR Ananda, Tara Newz, Kolkata TV, 24 Ghanta, Ne Bangla, News Time and Channel 10.


New AC Coaches of Kolkata Metro on Line 1
VIP Road in Kolkata, showing buses, Taxi, Autorikshaws and other modes of transportation
Kolkata Suburban Railway

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. The Kolkata Metro, run by the Indian Railways, is the oldest underground rapid transport system in India since 1984.[77] It runs parallel to the River Hooghly and spans the north-south length of the city covering a distance of 25 km. More than 5 lines of the Metro rail which are under construction, will help in creating a vast network of rapid transit system in the city. Buses are the preferred mode of transport and are run by both government agencies and private operators. Kolkata is India's only city to have a tram network, operated by Calcutta Tramways Company.[78] The slow-moving tram services are restricted to certain areas of the city. Water-logging due to heavy rains during the monsoon sometimes interrupts the public transport.[79][80]

Hired forms of mechanised transport include the yellow metered taxis, while auto rickshaws ply in specific routes. Almost all the taxis in Kolkata are Ambassadors. This is unlike most other cities where Tata Indicas or Premier Padminis are more common. In some areas of the city, cycle rickshaws and hand-pulled rickshaws are also patronised by the public for short distances. Private owned vehicles are less in number and usage compared to other major cities due to the abundance in both variety and number of public vehicles.[81] However, the city witnessed a steady increase in the number of registered vehicles; 2002 data showed an increase of 44% over a period of seven years.[82] The road space (matched with population density) in the city is only 6%, compared to 23% in Delhi and 17% in Mumbai, creating major traffic problems.[83] Kolkata Metro Railway and a number of new roads and flyovers have decongested the traffic to some extent. Kolkata has three major long distance railway stations at Howrah, Sealdah and Kolkata (Chitpur).[84] The city is the headquarters of two divisions of the Indian Railways — Eastern Railway and South Eastern Railway.[85]

The Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport at Dum Dum to the north of the city, operates both domestic and international flights. The airport is presently being upgraded to accommodate increased air traffic. Kolkata is also a major river port of East India. The Kolkata Port Trust manages both the Kolkata and Haldia docks.[86] There are passenger services to Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and cargo ship service to various ports in India and abroad, operated by the Shipping Corporation of India. There are ferry services as well, connecting Kolkata with its twin city of Howrah across the Hooghly River.


The Chinese New Year celebrated in Chinatown. Unofficial estimates put the number of Chinese in Kolkata anywhere from 5,000 to 200,000, most of whom live in or near Chinatown in Tangra.[87][88]
Religions in Kolkata[90]
Religion Percent

Residents of Kolkata are called Calcuttans. According to the provisional population of 2011, Kolkata city has a population of 4,486,679,[4] while the urban agglomeration had a population of 13,216,546 in 2001. The sex ratio is 928 females per 1000 males[91] – which is lower than the national average, because many working males come from rural areas and neighbouring states (mainly Bihar, UP, Orissa), where they leave behind their families. Kolkata's literacy rate of 81%[92] exceeds the all-India average of 66%.[93] Kolkata Municipal Corporation area has registered a growth rate of 4.1%, which is the lowest among the million-plus cities in India.[94]

Bengali comprise the majority of Kolkata's population, with Marwaris and Bihari communities forming a large portion of the minorities.[95] Some of Kolkata's minor communities include Chinese, Tamils, Nepalis, Oriyas, Telugus, Assamese, Gujaratis, Anglo-Indians, Armenians, Greeks, Tibetans, Maharashtrians, Konkanis, Malayalees, Punjabis and Parsis. Tibetans mostly came as traders. There were also many Armenians, Greeks and Jews, although these have declined in 20th century. After the establishment of Israel, many Jews left to live in Israel and the size of the Jewish community had a severe decrease.[96] Chinatown in the eastern part of the city of Kolkata is the only Chinatown in the country. The locality was once home to 20,000 ethnic Chinese, now the population has dropped to 2,000 or so. The traditional occupation of the Chinese community here had been working in the nearby tanning industry and the Chinese restaurants.[97]

Bengali is the dominant language spoken in Kolkata, which also serves as the Official State Language. English is also used, particularly by the white-collar work force.[6]

According to the census, 73% of the population in Kolkata is Hindu, 23% Muslim, 2% Christian and 1% Jains. Other minorities such as Sikhs, Buddhist, Jews and Zoroastrian constitute the rest of the city's population.[90] 1.5 million people, who constitute about a third of the city's population, live in 2,011 registered and 3,500 unregistered (occupied by squatters) slums.[98]

Kolkata reported 67.6% of total Special and Local Laws (SLL) crimes registered in 35 Indian mega cities in 2004.[99] Kolkata police district registered 10,757 IPC cases in 2004, which was 10th highest in the country.[100] The crime rate in the city was 71 per 100,000 against the national rate of 167.7 in 2006, which is the lowest among all the mega cities in India.[101] Some estimates state that there are more than 60,000 brothel-based women and girls in prostitution in Kolkata.[102] [103] The population of prostitutes in Sonagachi constitutes mainly of Nepalese, Indians and Bangladeshis.[103] Some sources estimate there are 60,000 women in the brothels of Kolkata.[104] The largest prostitution area in city is Sonagachi.[103] [87][88]


Jorasanko Thakur Bari, ancestral home of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore
Maa Kali at Kalighat Temple
St Thomas Church, Middleton Row
A Murti (representation) of the goddess Durga, during the festival of Durga Puja.

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.[105] For these reasons, Kolkata has often been dubbed as the Cultural Capital of India or the Literary Capital of India.[106]

A characteristic feature of Kolkata is the para or neighbourhoods having a strong sense of community. Typically, every para has its own community club with a clubroom and often, a playing field. People here habitually indulge in adda or leisurely chat, and these adda sessions are often a form of freestyle intellectual conversation.[107] The city has a tradition of political graffiti depicting everything from outrageous slander to witty banter and limericks, caricatures to propaganda.

Kolkata has many buildings adorned with Gothic, Baroque, Roman, Oriental and Indo-Islamic (including Mughal) motifs. Several major buildings of the Colonial period are well maintained and have been declared "heritage structures", while others are in various stages of decay. Established in 1814, the Indian Museum is the oldest museum in Asia and houses vast collections of Indian natural history and Indian art. Marble Palace is classic example of European mansion in the city. Netaji Bhawan is museum and shrine dedicated for honor of Netaji, Indian freedom fighter of World War II.[108] The Victoria Memorial, one of the major places of interest in Kolkata, has a museum documenting the city's history. The National Library of India is India's leading public library. Academy of Fine Arts and other art galleries hold regular art exhibitions.

The city has a tradition of dramas in the form of jatra (a kind of folk-theatre), theatres and Group Theaters. Kolkata is the home of the Bengali cinema industry, dubbed "Tollywood" after Tollygunj, the location of Bengali movie studios. Its long tradition of Art-Film making includes globally acclaimed directors such as Academy Award winning director Satyajit Ray, Ritwik Ghatak, Mrinal Sen, Tapan Sinha and contemporary directors such as Aparna Sen, Buddhadeb Dasgupta and Rituparno Ghosh.

In the nineteenth and twentieth century, Bengali literature was modernized in the works of authors such as Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Michael Madhusudan Dutt, Rabindranath Tagore, Kazi Nazrul Islam and Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay. This literary modernization, coupled with the social reforms led by reformers like Ram Mohan Roy, Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar, Swami Vivekananda and others, constituted a major part of the Bengal Renaissance . The rich literary tradition set by these authors has been carried forward in the works of Jibanananda Das, Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay, Tarashankar Bandopadhyay, Manik Bandopadhyay, Ashapurna Devi, Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay, Buddhadeb Guha, Mahashweta Devi, Samaresh Majumdar, Sanjeev Chattopadhyay and Sunil Gangopadhyay among others.

Kolkata is also an important centre of art and has hosted many important artists like Abanindranath Tagore, Jamini Roy, Ramkinker Baij, Bikash Bhattacharya, Paresh Maity and Devajyoti Ray. In the 1960s, the city has seen the emergence of the famous Calcutta Group, which preceded the Progressive Artists Group in field of modern Indian art. In 2005, the first exhibition on Pseudorealism was held at the Birla Academy of Art and Culture. The city continues to be the home of one of the most passionate lovers of art in country. Kolkata is often also called the backyard of Indian art.

The city is also noted for its appreciation of Rabindrasangeet and Indian classical music as well as Bengali folk music such as baul and kirtans and gajan, and modern songs including Bengali adhunik songs. From the early 1990s, there has been an emergence of new genres of music, including the emergence of what has been called Bengali Jeebonmukhi Gaan (a modern genre based on realism) by artists like Anjan Dutta, Kabir Suman, Nachiketa and folk/alternative/rock bands like Moheener Ghoraguli, Chandrabindoo, Bhoomi, Cactus, and Fossils.

Key elements of Kolkata's cuisine include rice and Machher jhol (fish curry),[109] with roshogolla, sandesh and mishti dohi (sweet yoghurt) as dessert. Bengal's vast repertoire of fish-based dishes includes various eelish preparations (a favorite among Bengalis). Street foods such as beguni (fried battered eggplant slices), kati roll (flatbread roll with vegetable or chicken, mutton, or egg stuffing), phuchka (deep fried crêpe with tamarind and lentil sauce) and Indian Chinese cuisine from China Town in the eastern parts of the city are quite popular.[110][111] Sweets occupy an important place in the diet of Kolkatans and at their social ceremonies.

Bengali women commonly wear the shaŗi as per tradition and global/western outfits. Among men, western dressing has greater acceptance, though the traditional dhoti and panjabi/kurta comes to life on festivals.

Durga Puja, in the autumn, is the most important festival and the most glamorous event in Kolkata. Other notable festivals include Jagaddhatri Puja, Diwali, Saraswati puja, Eid, Holi, Christmas, poila boishak (new year), 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.


The Indian Institute of Management, one of the best business schools in India, it is situated in Joka.
University of Calcutta, a renowned seat of learning and the oldest western style university in South Asia

Kolkata's schools are either run by the state government or by private (many of which are religious) organisations. Schools mainly use Bengali or English as the medium of instruction, though Urdu is also used, especially in Central Kolkata. The schools are affiliated with any of the following — West Bengal Board of Secondary Education, the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE), the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE), the National Institute of Open School (NIOS) and the A-Level (British Curriculum). Under the 10+2+3 plan, after completing their secondary education, students typically enroll in a 2 year junior college (also known as a pre-university) or in schools with a higher secondary facility affiliated with West Bengal Council of Higher Secondary Education, ICSE or CBSE. Students usually choose from one of three streams — liberal arts, commerce, or science, though vocational streams are also available. Upon completing the required coursework, students may enrol in general or professional degree programmes.

Kolkata houses seventeen universities or autonomous institutions and numerous colleges affiliated to them or to other universities located outside. The University of Calcutta (founded in 1857) has 153 affiliated colleges.[112] The Calcutta Madrasa College, founded in 1781, was upgraded to a university in 2007. The Jadavpur University is a notable university known for its arts, science and engineering faculties. Calcutta Medical College is the first institution teaching modern medicine in Asia.[113] Other notable institutions are Presidency College, St. Xavier's College, Bethune College (the first women's college in India), and Scottish Church College. Some institutions of national importance are the Asiatic Society, Bose Institute, S.N. Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences, the Indian Statistical Institute, the Indian Institute of Management, the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science, the Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre, the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, the Marine Engineering and Research Institute, the Rabindra Bharati University, the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, the Calcutta Mathematical Society, the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management- The First B-School of India, the West Bengal University of Health Sciences, the West Bengal University of Animal and Fishery Sciences, the West Bengal University of Technology and the National Institute of Fashion Technology.Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India(ICWAI)-Head office for Cost and Management Accountants is situated in Sudder Street in main city area.

Notable scholars from Kolkata include physicists Satyendra Nath Bose, Meghnad Saha and Jagadish Chandra Bose, chemist Prafulla Chandra Roy, statistician Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis, mathematician Raj Chandra Bose, physician Upendranath Brahmachari and educator Ashutosh Mukherjee.


Eden Gardens Cricket Stadium
Salt Lake Stadium, second largest stadium in the world.

The most followed sports in Kolkata are football and cricket. Kolkata, a major centre of football activity in India and home of top national football clubs such as Mohun Bagan AC, East Bengal, Chirag United S.C., and Mohammedan Sporting Club is known as Mecca of Indian Football.[114] Calcutta Football League, which started in 1898, is the oldest football league in Asia. Mohun Bagan AC, one of the oldest football clubs in Asia, is the only club to be entitled 'National Club of India'. Kolkata is also home to Kolkata Knight Riders IPL cricket team franchise.

As in the rest of India, cricket is extremely popular and is played throughout the city in its grounds and streets. Tournaments, especially those involving outdoor games like cricket, football, and badminton or indoor games like carrom are regularly organized on an inter-locality or inter-club basis. The maidan area hosts several minor football and cricket clubs and coaching institutes.

Notable sports stars from Kolkata include former Indian national cricket captains Sourav Ganguly and Pankaj Roy, as well as current cricketers Ashok Dinda, Wriddhiman Saha, Laxmi Ratan Shukla and Manoj Tiwary, Olympic tennis bronze medallist Leander Paes. Former football stars include Sailen Manna, Chuni Goswami, P.K. Banerjee, and Subrata Bhattacharya.

The city is known for its large stadia. The Eden Gardens is one of only two 100,000-seat cricket stadiums in the world.[115] It hosted final of 1987 Cricket World Cup. It is home to Bengal cricket team and Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL. Salt Lake Stadium (also known as Yuva Bharati Krirangan)—a multi-use stadium—is the world's second largest capacity football stadium.[116][117] Calcutta Cricket and Football Club is the second-oldest cricket club in the world.[118] Kolkata has three 18-hole golf courses at the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (the first golf club in the world outside Britain),[119] Tollygunge Club and Fort William. The Royal Calcutta Turf Club (RCTC) holds regular equestrian races and polo matches. The Calcutta Polo Club is now considered as the oldest polo club of the world.[120] The Calcutta South Club is the venue for some national and international tennis tournaments. From 2005, Sunfeast Open, a Tier-III tournament of Women's Tennis Association Tour, takes place in Netaji Indoor Stadium. The Calcutta Rowing Club hosts regular rowing races and training. Although it is a minor sport, Kolkata is considered the "capital" of rugby union in India. The city also gives its name to the name of the oldest international tournament in rugby union, the Calcutta Cup, which is of Indian workmanship.

When the Elite Football League of India was introduced in August 2011, Kolkata was noted as one of eight cities to be awarded a team for the inaugural season. Named the Kolkata Vipers, the team's first season will be played in Pune, and it will be Kolkata's first professional American football franchise.[121][122]

Sister cities

Kolkata has sister city relationships with the following cities of the world.[123][124][125]

Sister city Country
Long Beach United States United States
Odessa Ukraine Ukraine
Macau MacauChina S.A.R.
Thessaloniki Greece Greece
Naples Italy Italy
Dhaka Bangladesh Bangladesh
Guangzhou China China

See also


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