Kolkata Tourism - ....
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Calcutta-Kolkata is a city that means many things to many people. For some, Calcutta - Kolkata is the city of joy, while for others it is dirty, crowded, and noisy. Once the greatest colonial city in the Orient, Calcutta- Kolkata was later reviled as a cauldron of poverty, dirt, and disease. Today, it ranks among the four major metropolis of India along with Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai. A mere village in the 17th century, Calcutta- Kolkata is not an ancient city like Delhi. Like Mumbai and Chennai, it originated largely due to the expansionist ambitions of the European powers, especially the British Raj. Little wonder, Calcutta- Kolkata has some of the finest Raj edifices built in a variety of styles.

Kolkata is not an ancient city like Delhi, with its impressive relics of the past. In fact, it's largely a British creation which dates back only some 300 years and was the capital of British India until the beginning of this century. In 1686, the British abandoned Hooghly, their trading post 38km up the Hooghly River from present-day Kolkata, and moved downriver to there small villages - Sutanati, Govindpur and Kailkata. Kolkata takes its name from the last of those three tiny settlements. Much of the Kolkata's most enduring development took place between 1780 and 1820. Latter in the 19th century, Bengal became an important centre in the struggle for Indian independence, and this was a major reason for the decision to transfer the capital to Delhi in 1911. Loss of political power did not alter Kolkata's economic control, and the city continued to prosper until after WW11.

The weather is very Indian, slightly on the humid side. Summers are hot, the temperatures fluctuating between max. 30c - 35c and a min. 14c - 25c. The rainy season begins in the month of June and lasts up to October bringing in moderately severe rains. The temperature is also moderate.

Attractions in Kolkata

- Howrah Bridge
It one of three bridges on the river Hooghly and is the most famous landmark in all of West Bengal. This bridge is a marvel of British engineering. Howrah Bridge is suspended on pillars and never mind how old, it still stands as strong as ever.

- Birla Planetarium
Located at the top end of Chowringhee, it is the only planetarium in the country whose dome houses a collection of projectors and optical equipment imported from East Germany. It is the largest planetarium in South-East Asia and the second largest planetarium in the world.

- Botanical Garden
The garden was founded in 1787 by the East India Company and was formerly known as the Royal Botanical Garden. It is famous for its huge collection of bamboos, orchids, palms and the plants of screw pine genus. The garden spreads over 270 acres and more than 1700 plant species can be found here. The Central National Herbarium of the Botanical Survey of India is here and has 2,500,000 dried plants in its collection. A botanical's dream come true for sure.

- Chandernagore
French presence in the Eastern parts of India is evident from Chandernagore located about 30 kms north of Calcutta, which was ruled by France between 1673 and 1952, who left their imprint of distinctive French architecture. It has an interesting history as India got freedom in 1947; this small town was still under the governance of French, being ruled from Pondichery.

- Dakshineswar Temple
Built in 1847 by Rani Rasmoni the place where Ramakrishna attained spiritual vision while working as a priest of Kali temple, on the banks of Ganges, north of Belur Math, is Dakshineswar Temple. The presiding deity is Goddess Kali who is surrounded by 12 other temples dedicated to Lord Siva. It is one of the famous places of pilgrimage.

- St. Paul's Cathedral Church
One of the most prominent churches in the city, it is located between Birla planetarium and Rabindra Sadan. Constructed by Bishop Willson in 1847, it is the first Episcopal Church of the East. The Indo-Gothic style of this church is really impressive.

- Kali Mandir, Kalighat
Kali temple of Kalighat continues to attract a large volume of pilgrims, local, regional as well as from all over India. A truly impressive sight, this temple is best visited during the spirited Kali puja festivities.

- Victoria Memorial
One of the oldest museums in Kolkata, this is a must see for anyone who visits the city.

How To Reach

- By Road
A few buses ply from Orissa and Bihar to Calcutta. However, these are highly uncomfortable and best avoided. Buses are also available to nearby towns, especially if you wish to visit Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri on your trip to Calcutta. Depending on which direction you're heading in, buses could depart from the end of the Maidan near Chowringhee Road, or the bus stand at Babu Ghat near Fort William. A few tour operators have their own private bus stands, so do make inquiries!
- By Air
Kolkata is well connected by air to all major countries in the world, as well as to Indian cities. The air carriers that have flights to and from the city include Aeroflot, Air France, Air India, Biman Bangladesh, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Gulf Air, Indian Airlines, Japan Airlines, Jet Airways, KLM-Royal Dutch Airlines, Royal Jordanian Airlines, Royal Nepal Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways International.
- By Rail
Trains are available from all parts of the country to Calcutta. Most inward bound trains stop at Howrah, which is also the station from which major trains to other cities depart. Most trains heading to areas such as New Jalpaiguri and other provinces in the north-east stop at the other station, Sealdah. Local trains to nearby towns are available from both stations, depending on which part of West Bengal you want to go to. Since Howrah and Sealdah are not exactly a hop, skip and jump away from each other, do remember to check which station you need you board your train from, when you buy your ticket!

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