Kolkata (formerly named Calcutta) is the second largest city in India after Mumbai. It is a very busy city with streets full of people and heavy traffic, just how most Westerners imagine India. Every inch of the city is used and with more than 13 million people (and a lot of livestock) it is definitely a bustling metropolis!
Kolkata is an important port in India thanks to its location in the Bay of Bengal and the proximity to the great river Hooghly. Not far away, on the other side of the river is the neighboring country Bangladesh.
Kolkata is also the intellectual and cultural headquarter of India with a wide variation in music, theater, art, music and film. Kolkata has raised a number of important Indian personalities, among others the Guru-philosopher Ramakrishna and the Nobel prize winner and poet Rabindranath Tagore. However, poverty is still very visible here, as in the rest of India.
Kolkata's beautiful palace
When you travel to Kolkata, you will notice that the city is both extremely complex and extremely colorful. There are typical Indian houses side by side with European colonial buildings as well as Islamic and Hindu architecture.
Each district has its own ethnic character, so when you move around the streets the atmosphere and range of shops change greatly depending on where you are. The northern part of Kolkata you will find the beautiful palace, exquisite jewelers and some the oldest bazaars where you can buy delicious fruits from throughout Southeast Asia.
Kolkata's many green parks
If you want to experience green surroundings, there is a 500 acre park where people perform various types of sports and leisure activities. To the north, not far from the park you will find the business district - also known as "the white town" because it was here the first European immigrants used to live. In this area there are a number of banks and large public buildings, and you will also find the famous "Writers Building" from the year 1780.