Kolkata, A City of Joy!


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                               Kolkata is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. Kolkata is the cultural capital of India and the commercial capital of Eastern India. It is located in eastern India on the east bank of the Hooghly River.  The Kolkata metropolitan area including suburbs has a population exceeding 15 million, making it the third most populous metropolitan area in India and one of the most populous urban areas in the world. The city is also classified as the eighth largest urban agglomeration in the world.
                    Kolkata served as the capital of India during the British Raj until 1911. Once the centre of modern education, science, culture and politics in India, Kolkata witnessed economic stagnation in the years following India's independence in 1947. However, since the year 2000, an economic rejuvenation has led to a spurt in the city's growth. Like other metropolitan cities of India, Kolkata continues to struggle with urbanisation problems like poverty, pollution and traffic congestion.
                    The name Kolkata and the anglicised name Calcutta have their roots in Kalikata, the name of one of the three villages (Kalikata, Sutanuti, Govindapur) in the area before the arrival of the British. "Kalikata", in turn, is believed to be a version of Kalikshetra "Land of [the goddess] Kali". Alternatively, the name may have been derived from the Bengali term kilkila ("flat area"). Again, the name may have its origin in the indigenous term for a natural canal, Khal, followed by Katta (which may mean dug). Another theory is that the place used to specialize in quicklime (kalicun) and coir rope (kátá) and hence the place was called Kalikátá.
                    While the city's name was always pronounced "Kolkata" or "Kolikata" in the local Bengali language, its official English name was changed from "Calcutta" to "Kolkata" in 2001, reflecting the Bengali pronunciation.

Kolkata at a glance
·State: West Bengal
·Summer temperature: 30° C - 40° C
·Winter temperature: 30° C - 10° C
·Metropolitan Area: 1854 sq. km. (2005)
·Languages spoken: Bengali, Hindi, Urdu and English
·Altitude: 17 ft above sea level
·Best time to visit: October to March
·STD Code: 033
·Major tourist attractions: Victoria memorial, Fort William, Eden gardens, Birla planetarium, Howrah bridge, Belur math, Botanical gardens, Writer's building & Science city
·Major festivals: Durga Puja, Kali Puja, Saraswati Puja, Poila Baisakh, Makar Sankranti, Vishwakarma Puja & Lakshmi Puja.
·Major fairs: Calcutta book Fair, Poush Mela & Joydev mela.

Durga Pooja
Puja of Ma Durga is a major festival of Bengalis, for which they keep waiting the whole year. Kolkata Durga Puja festival is celebrated on a large scale with great pomp and gaiety. It is celebrated to worship mother Durga, the Goddess of power (Shakti). It celebrates the victory of ma Durga over the demon Mahishasura. The festival usually takes place during the autumn period from September-October. The weather is pleasant, giving air a festivity touch. Though the festival of Durga puja is celebrated throughout Bengal, it is special in Kolkata. Durga puja involves the performance of a long series of rituals every day, starting from the day of the Mahalaya, the days of Sashthi, Satami, Ashtami, Navami and Dashami or Bijoya Dashami has its own set of rituals. Durga puja is a time for socializing with friends, family and relatives. People dressed in their new clothing, visit pandals, eat mouthwatering food and enjoy the drumbeats. It is truly the best time to catch up with your old friends. Indians abroad send gifts to Kolkata in large number and the locals also distribute sweets and exchange gifts with the loved ones.