Cultural capital of India: The Magnificent City of Calcutta

In addition to being called the "city of joy," Calcutta is also regarded as India's cultural capital. Indian nationalism and contemporary Indian literature both have their roots in this metropolis. A perfect fusion of western and Indian culture has given rise to a number of organisations that have helped Kolkata's cultural life grow.

The Mughal Emperor Akbar is credited with giving Kolkata its original name, Kalikata. Under British administration, Kolkata was consistently regarded as a significant port for trade with the East India Company in 1690.

The East India Company was given trading freedom by the Mughal Emperor Farrukhsiyar in 1717 in exchange for an annual payment of 3,000 rupees. The city's expansion was financed using this cash. Following the division of Bengal between the newly independent countries of India and Pakistan, Kolkata had one of its biggest defeats.  Kolkata experienced an influx of East Pakistani refugees that led to social issues and an increase in population. In 1960, there was also a financial crisis, which made the city's instability worse.

Large-scale public work initiatives and coordinated regional planning helped to improve the city's economic and social situation in the 1980s. Under this, significant adjustments were made, such as the replacement of giant corporations with smaller ones and the construction of additional service sector businesses. But because labour and trade unions were opposed to the technology being employed, this process was slowed down as a result of their protest.


Kolkata replaced Calcutta as the official name of the city in 2001. Despite not being as economically vibrant as some of the other big Indian cities, Kolkata is nonetheless a major hub for culture, the arts, literature, and thought.

Why is Calcutta referred to as India's "Cultural Capital"?
Kolkata is incredibly rich in customs, culture, and principles. The nicest aspect is that when walking down the street, you will observe people of all ages conversing about politics, cricket, art exhibits, and everything else that comes to mind in their "addas" (chat or, more importantly, intellectual exchange of ideas).

Historically, Kolkata has made significant contributions to the fields of literature and art. The British Empire was founded in this city, which is also where Mother Teresa and Rabindranath Tagore were born. It is also regarded as the nation's intellectual capital for this reason.

As the first capital of British India, Kolkata served as an entrance point for the colony till the year 1912. As a result, the city possesses an ideal fusion of religious, cultural, and monarchy monuments. The historic structures that still bear witness to the magnificence of the city can be found here.


Kolkata is renowned for its cuisine as well. And when discussing Kolkata, who can forget about Misti doi, rosogolla, and fish? The best thing about this city is that it attracts people with a wide range of palates. For this reason, it serves as a fusion of several cultures and caters to those with various tastes. The city provides everything to sate your appetites, whether you have a sweet tooth or a penchant for spicy food and chaat. Fuchka, radha ballabhi, kochuri, and moghlai porotha all originate from the city's centre. Did we forget to mention the heartthrob, the momo? On Elgin Road, you can find a tonne of establishments that serve momo with soup in the traditional manner.

Anywhere in the city, you may be sure to see people eating macher jhol with rice (fish curry). Here, fish is a favourite food and is virtually always required. Each fish also requires a variety of preparations. In addition to this, a biyebari (marriage ceremony) would undoubtedly give you a thaali of delicious chicken rolls, aaloo bhaja (fries), beguni (fried eggplant), mangsho (beef), etc.

Every type of food can be found in this city, which has a long history and rich culture. Kolkata is renowned for catering to people of all socioeconomic classes. On the streets and atop tall buildings, you may discover mouthwatering meals while enjoying a beautiful view of the city. Your breath will always be taken away by Kolkata.


Temples You will be amazed by the city's abundance of well-known temples. Even on working days, hundreds of devotees of Kaali Devi visit the temples here! We can only speculate as to what goes on on the weekends!

Kalighat: The temple may be more than 200 years old!

Dakshineshwar: This temple is dedicated to Bhavatarini Mata, a different manifestation of Kaali. Rani Rashmoni erected this shrine in 1855.

The Calcutta Jain Temple: It was constructed in the late 1860s and attracts tourists from all over the world.

ISKCON Temple: Lord Krishna and Radha are worshipped here. It is a well-known temple that has constructed houses of worship all around the nation and even abroad.

There are more than 30 museums in Calcutta, each specialising in a different topic. The 1814-founded Indian museum is also housed there. There are some priceless artefacts from history in this archaeology section. The Victoria Memorial displays the historical relationship between Britain and India.

• Stories of bravery and fascinating information about our forebears who participated in the independence movement may be found at the Kolkata Police Museum. This location offers free admission.

• The entire spectrum of technology, communication, nuclear weapons, iron and steel, and much more are on display at the Birla Industrial and Technological Museum.

• The Gurusaday Museum is a place where you may see artefacts and information about many civilizations and folktales. This is the place to go if you enjoy folktales.
• State Archeological Museum: This archaeological museum is unique compared to others. It has a variety of mediaeval tools, stone sculptures, and other artefacts.


This is the place where you belong if you love art film and are a lover of contemporary filmmaking, as this is where it all began. For many years, Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak have been revered as the pride of Kolkata. The world over, their work has received a lot of praise. When Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali was released in 1955, it sparked a revolution in the cinema industry. All throughout the world, people enjoyed this film.

Bengal has made a significant contribution to Indian cinema in addition to this. The Kolkata International Film Festival is held annually. Eminent filmmakers like Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Bimal Roy, Nitin Bose, and other such talents were all born in Kolkata. Bengali film has produced some of India's best actors and actresses, and notable figures like PC Barua, Prithviraj Kapoor, and KS Saigal have had a significant impact on youth. Many screenplays have always found a home in literature. One will always remember Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's book "Devdas," which was later made into a film.

It is stated that Kaji Nazrul Islam had a significant impact on the ideas and culture of many Indians thanks to the kindness of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar and Bengali laureates like Rabindranath Tagore.

Similar to Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, several authors have studied complex human psychology. The song Vande Mataram, which is also India's first national anthem, was written by Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, who is well-known for it.

In terms of music and dance, this city is not without Rabindra Sangeet. Kids often study this kind of sangeet, which aids in a better understanding of their ancestry. Additionally, it is a centre for Indian classical dance and music. Kolkata also produced well-known musicians like Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ananda Shankar. Following a traditional twist, the 1990s saw the emergence of music featuring artists like Kishore Kumar, Manna dey, R.D. Burman and others artists.

Even though it's common knowledge that Bengalis adore sarees, the fascinating ways in which the saree culture has evolved over time is quite amazing. Taant sarees are famous for being made in the state of West Bengal. Young women are not only seen sporting traditional silks, but also fashionable fusion sarees, as well as accessorising with both ethnic and modern jewellery. The local pajama-panjabi is well-known among young males. Kurtis are making a significant comeback among working women and young girls.
But don't let this fool you. You can see examples of how successfully the city has incorporated fashion and trends from diverse cultures all over the place.

Around the city, there are a number of markets and shopping centres where you can easily get clothing and other goods that reflect Kolkata’s culture.

Kolkata, a bustling metropolis, is renowned for its love of sports. Football and cricket are deeply ingrained in the local culture. The Eden Gardens cricket ground, one of the most well-known in the world, is located there. There is always a crowd here supporting their teams, whether it be during a Ranji game or a nearby club match, regardless of the weather. Who can forget the renowned cricketer Sourav Ganguly, well known by his supporters as Dada, who rose to become the captain of the Indian cricket team.

In addition to cricket, football is also very popular in this area. East Bengal and Mohun Bagan are regarded as two teams that have a long history of animosity. You might be astonished to learn that these two teams' performances influence seafood pricing! If you are a fan of Mohun Bagan, you will witness people eating prawns to rejoice, and if you're a fan of East Bengal, you will get to celebrate by eating hilsa fish. The popularity of football has led to intense interest in the world cup. Another football team, Atletico de Kolkata, is named after Atletico Madrid, another well-known club in Europe.

It is rumoured that during World Cup games, Kolkatans frequently cheer on Argentina or Brazil as though their own players were participating. Due to this, the national football squad of Argentina also participated in a friendly game here.

The Royal Calcutta Golf Club, which is located in Kolkata, is also the oldest golf club in Asia. In addition to this, there is the renowned Tollygunge Golf Club. The clubs here are also well-known. There is the Calcutta Race Course as well as the Calcutta Turf Club. The oldest rowing organisation in the nation, The Bengal Rowing Society, provides training and competitions.


When it comes to transportation in the city, there are many options available. You can go across the Hooghly River by boat, subway, Uber, local cabs, or other means. The best feature of this city is what sets it apart from other significant Indian cities: transportation costs are incredibly inexpensive, and because practically all forms of transportation are readily available, you'll often find that public transportation is crowded.

Because of the affordable prices and excellent connections, people here prefer to use public transportation. Whether you work for a large corporation or a small business, you'll find people sharing seats when traveling.The atmosphere where you may talk to random people about politics, social issues, the lack of communication among today's youth, and other topics is the finest part. In Kolkata, this has developed into a routine and essential component of daily life.

Why this place is referred to as the "city of joy." When you visit other major cities like Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, and other metros, the cost of living is extremely expensive, but only Kolkata encourages all people, regardless of their income, to live their life much easily than the other metropolitan cities.

There are many individuals in the city. People of various ages can be seen here wandering the streets. This city distinguishes itself from others by having a perfect balance of large buildings and traditional homes, modern and neo-classical architecture. In large cities, where expansion occurs on a massive scale, you will only find giant buildings. This demonstrates that the locals are always aware of their origins and linked to them.

Therefore, it is not an exaggeration to say that this lovely city is India's Cultural Capital. The city has earned it rightfully.

Sriparna Mukherjee
Amity University, Kolkata

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