Calcutta, or Kolkata 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 could not be more striking with slums, poverty and degrading conditions, while nearby, the wealthy enjoy all the finer things of life. Once a humble village on the Hooghly River, Kolkata became the capital of British India.
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 and 1847 and is a legacy of British colonial rule on the banks of the Gulf of Bengal. The red brick Writers? Building was formerly the headquarters of the East India Company and it was from there that trade was carried out across the entire world. It was also the administrative centre for Bengal, Burma and Pakistan.
Kalighat is the oldest pilgrimage destination in the world. Narrow pathways lead to a Shiva temple along with stalls selling souvenirs and religious offerings.T he sanctuary was built in 1809 and is still busy today as taxis and bicycle rickshaws wait for the thousands of pilgrims that go there each day. In Kolkata, 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 metropolises in the world and also one in which chaos reigns supreme!