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KolkataCalcutta or Kolkata- State Capital of West Bengal. At the beginning of this century, Calcutta was the capital of British India. The city is famous for its culture; films, poetry, art and dance. The Victoria Memorial is a splendid architectural monument in, white marble, modelled after the Taj Mahal, was built in the memory of Queen Victoria. Victoria Memorial houses a fantastic collection of rare memorabilia from colonial days. Brass cannons, wrought iron streetlamps and imposing statues recreate history. With an overwhelming 10 million people, Kolkata is busy and bustling. Something is always happening - whether it is soccer, religious celebrations, concerts, theatre or a political demonstration, Calcutta is always on the move. A city of love and warmth, sorrow and despair, dreams and hopes, poverty and squalor, grandeur and glory, Kolkata is compelling, effervescent, teeming with life and traditions a medley of moods, styles, cultures, politics, industry and commerce.

More than 300 years ago, Job Charnock, an English tradesman set up a trading post on the banks of the Ganga along the three-village nucleus. Gradually Europeans started setting up business and trade establishments, the moneyed class taking interest in banking and usury. The East India Company steadily encroached into matters of state. The fate of the Nawabi rule was sealed in the Battle of Plassey and the English went ahead to seize power, a grip which loosened only 250 years later when power was transferred from the British Empire to the Indians. Independent India has crossed 50 years and these five decades have seen many miracles. Calcutta has grown, remains a city of contrasts, a mix-up of light and shade, a strange medley of ancient and modern, skyscrapers and Victorian edifices, heaven of the rich and the poor as seldom found anywhere in the world.

There is so much to see in this incredible city. A million people from every corner of India stream across the massive Howrah Bridge, swarm around the Hooghly river, flock along the busy avenues, through its narrow lanes. Then you arrive at the great expanse of the Maidan, the heart of Calcutta. Fort William, Victoria Memorial, Raj Bhavan, Palladian villas and the Botanical Gardens, the busy streets of Shyambazar, College Street and Kalighat, bookshops, art galleries, coffee houses all are part of Calcutta's varied and vibrant shades, the birthplace of Rabindranath Tagore and cradle of the Indian Renaissance. Calcutta's fascination defies analysis. It is an addiction, an affair of the mind and heart. Anyone who has lived here can never be happy anywhere else in the world...

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