Formerly known as Calcutta, and once the proud capital of the British Raj, Kolkata, a bustling, noisy city is deeply evocative of a previous era when the British Empire was at its zenith long before India attained independence.
The city was originally established as the trading post for the British East India Company on the banks of the Hooghly River 1690. Such were the riches of India that its success was almost instantaneous.
” Kolkata grew to be the biggest colonial trade centre in Asia, earning it the name “Jewel of the East.”
Kolkata is a city of surprises, particularly when you first glance upon its splendid Victorian buildings, and other remnants of the age such as the ornamental pools, stone-paved footpaths and the sweeping esplanade. The founders of Kolkata almost entirely ignored it’s Indian heritage, building a grand monument to British Imperialism which roared with great unsubtlety the premise that Britons were there to lord it all over the Indian minions; introducing a new breed of sahibs and memsahibs who were masters of those subservient hordes.
As grand as it may appear, Kolkata was actually built on a disease-breeding swamp at the head of the marshy delta that was the confluence of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers.
Today, much of the city’s architectural heritage stands crumbling and in ruins, its monumental colonial structures seemingly left to rot. The city has the look of a place that no one carers for anymore, particularly as the heat and humidity. Combined with a distinct lack of maintenance which has left the remnants of once superb buildings grime-covered and sad.
With a population of 14 million, many of whom have no housing and who spend their entire existence living on the streets, Kolkata can be a very confronting place.
Everything about Kolkata attack the senses. Here you can simultaneously view life at both its very grandest and its most wretched. Kolkata bears substantial urban pollution, traffic congestion, poverty, overpopulation, and other logistic and socioeconomic problems.
” Yet, it is worth visiting just to experience the vibrancy of the city.”
This I also the city where Mother Theresa was based, and you can visit her mission to see the work that they are doing, and also to participate as a volunteer on their many projects.
That is one way towards truly understanding the people of Kolkata, to get in amongst them to understand the resilience one needs to exist in Kolkata, and to attain a sense of satisfaction for the deeds that you carry out in a place where your goodwill is deeply appreciated.