Calcutta as it has been known since 2001 is the capital of West Bengal and also the second largest city in India. a city of contrasts that couldn’t be more striking, slums, poverty and degrading conditions. and nearby the wealthy who enjoy all the finer things of life.
once a humble village on the Hooghly River, Calcutta became the capital of British India. the heart bridge was built in 1943 and is today one of the city’s main landmarks. it’s seven hundred and five meters long 97 metres high and weighs two thousand five hundred and ninety tonnes.
each morning hundreds of people come to bathe on the banks of the Hooghly River a tributary of the sacred River Ganges in India rituals a part of daily life . each day around 3 million people cross the bridge while making their way from the huge Hara railway station to the center of Kolkata.
however nothing interrupts the bay this. close buys the flower market while many enjoy their sacred morning bathe others are already hard at work. freshly picked flowers are sold here, they shine out in vivid colors and their sweet scent fills the air as if attempting to adorn customers.
skillful hands create blossom necklaces that are to be used for sacrifice. religious sacrifice is still held high in Kolkata. others pack petals into bags that are first weighed and then transported to various parts of the city. in the heart of the city on the banks of the Hooghly River is the 400 hectare maiden park.
the city’s green lung and in its center Fort William. early morning to late evening the park is a popular meeting place. local people relax play and celebrate on green swathe and various tradesmen sell food and drink. horses and carriages are also available.
where today there are fountains and pretty flower beds in the early 18th century there was dense jungle but not anymore. in 1773 the British built Fort William. it replaced a previous fort that had been destroyed 17 years earlier. today it’s a somewhat unremarkable structure.
sheep graze in the park, they act as a natural-born ma and save the municipality of much expense. the horses rest in the heat of the day but he’s shady trees while men play football. the southern end of Maidan Park is dominated by an important building the Victoria Memorial. a domed building of white Rajasthan model. Kolkata’s splendid landmark a monument to Imperial self-assurance dedicated to the young Queen Victoria who never ventured to the Indian subcontinent. surrounded by well-laid-out Gardens a neoclassical building that looks like a combination of the Taj Mahal and the Washington Capitol gradually appears
Today of his fine building as a museum. the prince of wales laid the foundation stone and it was built by a British colonial Viceroy. its construction was funded by the aristocracy and bourgeoisie. close to the Victoria Memorial is the Orient’s first Anglican Cathedral, st. Paul’s. a remarkable sacred building
of Indo gothic design it was built between 1839 at 1847. a legacy of British colonial rule on the banks of the Gulf of Bengal. here English dignitaries business people and functionaries once met to attend church. a Christian island amid Hinduism Buddhism Islam and numerous natural religions.
the cathedral was destroyed twice due to earthquake in 1897 and in 1934 however it’s since been lovingly rebuilt. and this stylistic replica of the UK’s famous Canterbury Cathedral has managed to survive right up to the present day. with Florentine Renaissance frescoes marvelous stained-glass windows and traditional wooden pews. here beats the heart of Kolkata. once the original village of Kolkata in which the East India Company founded a British trading post in the 17th century.
the name of BBD square stands for the freedom fighters of Binoy Badal and Dinesh. ornate colonial buildings surround the square, such as that of the Supreme Court building. and the old government house that was once the financial and political center of the British Empire in India until Delhi became its capital city. with its large rotunda of the splendid main post office looks far from functional.
built in the 1860s it was designed by Walter Granville that is located on the site once occupied by an old fortress. the redbrick writers building was formerly the headquarters of the East India Company. from here trade was carried out across the entire world. and it was also the administrative center for Bengal Burma and Pakistan.
St. John’s Church is also closely linked with the history of the East India Company. job sharukh is buried here a British trader who in 1690 established the first trading post here. large white pillars support the roof of the city’s first church that was dedicated in 1787 and consists entirely of stone.
Based on Greek design, James created this historic church that serves as a meeting place for India’s British freemasons. although modest the interior of the church is decorated with impressive colored windows and paintings, and the pipe organ is said to be the best in the whole of India
some John’s church is a veritable masterpiece. the stone plates on the floor were brought from gander, and it’s very reminiscent of London San Martin in the fields. a journey around the edge of Kolkata takes us along the Grand Trunk Road through various street villages along Hooghly.
and the former trading settlements of both the Danes and the French. built in the 16th century the road contains a number of temples. once the entire court of the mongol monarchy travelled on this road from agra and delhi. the kana gabato is dedicated to the indian deity shiva.
this somewhat frightening deity is a most revered God and symbolizes collapse and destruction. this was once one of the most important roads in Asia and connected Kolkata in the east and Kabul in the north. we continue to travel through more Street villages and past old Caravan Sarai’s.
that have fallen into decay.
eventually we arrived at the first Danish settlement to set and pour its East Indian branch traded from here until Denmark’s possessions in India was sold to the British. while under Danish rules Serampore was an important center of culture and Serampore college on the banks of the Hooghly River published early texts in various Oriental languages and even today, Baptist theologians are educated here.
although in ruins the buildings indicate the wealth of their former owners but how did foreigners first come to west bengal. where the Ganges flows across the lower plains of West Bengal the river divides into many tributaries. the main one being the Hooghly that flows into the Bay of Bengal.
Since the 15th century this highly navigable river attracted Dutch Danish and British merchants. indeed their settlements transformed the riverbanks into a mini Europe. they also brought with them their various religions and thus there are a number of churches to be found here.
today much work is done to conserve these cultural treasures. later European traders also settled in the river villages of what is now Kolkata. within this somewhat neglected cemetery lighter bones of the First Baptist missionary in India, dr. William Carey.
he developed flora culture and gardening in this area and imported various seeds and plants. a little further up the river we arrived at Chandan Nagar, one of the first French settlements that still possesses the unique Flair of what was even then the brave new year.
former residents of the French administrative the duplex palace is situated on the riverbank and is now a museum and library, featuring the documents and artifacts of those bygone days. along the river of benches similar to those found in the parks of Paris and elephant heads decorate the splendid ghat of building with a sacred staircase that leads down to the Hooghly River.
a place with a religious as well as a social function here. the local people meet up for a chat and also performed cleaning rituals. the église to sacre-coeur with its images of Shanda and lured grotto is also reminiscent of Paris ,a gem set amid exotic surroundings.
will always splendour it’s too easy to glorify the former occupation of this region by European traders but it was not without its problems. now the local people occupy these once colonial areas and the final Davin OU’s are inhabited by Indians who have their own individual customers.
not far upriver we visit a further European settlement band l that was founded in 1580 by the Portuguese. the most famous building in this region is this imposing church was consecrated in 1599. following its destruction in 1632 it was rebuilt along simpler lines.
people of all faiths visit this church and particularly the statue of the women of banned old. once this sacred place was destroyed by the army of the Mughal Emperor. the statue was stolen and then it became lost in the river. yet eventually, it appeared on a riverbank close to the church, amazing.
and now we return to Kolkata. after a tiring car journey the calm atmosphere of the Botanical Gardens is even more relaxing. it started to develop in 1786 through the planting of an impressive number of palm trees, cacti and ferns.
today ancient trees flanked numerous ponds connected by a network of water channels. in 1919 the main trunk of a huge banyan tree was struck by lightning and as a result around 300 air roots grew from its branches, quite a site today. Colonel Kidd of the East India Company would be astonished if he could see this place now and he’d almost certainly enjoy a boat trip here
Kalighat is the oldest pilgrimage destination in the world. narrow pathways lead to a shiva temple along with stalls selling souvenirs and religious offerings. this sanctuary was built in 1809 and is still busy today. taxis and bicycle rickshaws wait there were thousands of pilgrims that come here every day
According to legend shiva grieved for his dead wife. he carried her body on his shoulders while dancing and during the dance destroyed everything in his way. the god vishnu intervened and brought an end to the massacre by throwing his magic chakra upon sati. thus various body parts were cast far and wide.
and the spots upon which a small toll and and became the sacred Calicut. it’s believed that the name Kolkata was derived from the word Kalighat. the faithful wait patiently in long rows until it is their turn to enter the temple. in the mean time they look at images of Shiva and other deities on the walls of the temple. it is thought that animals continue to be sacrifice here.
but only the Hindus know the answer as they’re the only ones allowed to enter the temple. on a boat tour on the hookah River we’re reminded of the city’s history. and when English merchants joke sharukh founded a trading post in the river villages suit annuity in 1690.
soon the village was united with its neighboring villages of Govender poor and kali cotta. in the following 200 years this trading centre developed into one of the largest cities in the world. Victorian neo-gothic buildings churches and spacious boulevards appeared.
according to recent estimates Kolkata will soon contain the biggest population in India and indeed the entire world. it has an uncontrolled and constant influx of new inhabitants. today Kolkata has including commuters around 20 million people and the figure is still growing.
The mother to raise a mission, is one of the city’s most famous sights. it was here that the Albanian nun Agnes discovered her life’s work and it is also her final resting place. mother teresa’s order of charity cared for the dying and those suffering from leprosy and AIDS.
in 1979 she was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize and a year later with the American medal of Liberty. for the common people she was simply mother, no matter what caste or religion. and even today it was his still tranquil place with the poorest to the poor forgiving help and supports.
at weekends the zoological garden is extremely popular with local families hordes of people squeezed into the large animal park. when first built the animal enclosures were of the most modern design and competed with the best zoos in Europe.
the animals delight both young and old alike and the pelicans reveled in all the attention they’re receiving. a surprising mode of transport in Kolkata, trams and they’ve been here since the end of the 19th century. on the 24th of February 1873 the first horse-drawn tram left sealed our station a sensation in those days. electric trams were first introduced in March 1902 and they’re still in operation today.
although not very comfortable their quaint tinkling sound cuts through the hustle and bustle of the city. the colorful trams are full of nostalgia, and they’re also environment-friendly practical had their own characters of the city.
the oldest and largest museum on the Indian subcontinent is the Indian Museum. a magnificent colonial building with a wonderful entrance of the splendid staircase. it’s unique and comprehensive exhibits from each epoch and region were first collected in 1814 and since 1875.
they’ve been on display in this splendid building designed by architect Walter Granville. the skeletons of various dinosaurs in the zoological section are particularly impressive. as is the Egyptian collection that features the busts of Pharaohs numerous mummies and painted stone hits.
most of the exhibits two and a half thousand years old, precious artifacts from Hindustani civilisations. in the middle of the city is the South Park Street Cemetery, hidden beyond high walls as a necropolis that features some unusual architecture, an oasis of peace and relaxation.
the names of the dead indicate that they all live during the time of the British Raj from scholars to judges and the country’s first governors. the seventh Ramos inaugurated in 1767 and situated in the shade of several old trees. the graves are still cared for according to the traditions of the East India Company.
in the 18th century Chinatown originated in lead Teressa district. the Chinese came as traders settle down and as was their custom surrounded their settlements with walls. in 1962 following a frontier war between India and China, most of the Chinese left the city.
today only about 30,000 Chinese remain. most of their buildings have been converted into restaurants, that are very popular with the local people. BK Bella is one of India’s leading industrial magnets, as an art lover he has fulfilled a personal dream the Birla temple constructed according to age-old design.
Together with his wife sir Allah in the 1940s he began to collect works of art and in 1962 they founded Birla Academy of Arts and Culture. the large collection includes Indian sculptures of bronze and terracotta and also paintings and textiles by contemporary artists.
In this city the Hindu doctrine of a better life after rebirth is for many the only hope, that they can cling to. nevertheless Kolkata is one of the most fascinating metropolis in the world and also one in which chaos reigns supreme.