The City With A Soul

Calcutta, my city. The place where you’ll find poetry in chaos, propitious rays among mundane monotony of life. The city brims with energy and is indulgent to indolence at the same time. Yes, it’s a city of contrast, cacophonously alive with a mishmash of apparently disjointed appendages.

Calcutta or Kolkata, as it is known today, is distinctly divided into two parts, the North and the South. Of course, there is no visible boundary, but one can feel the difference in the ambiance and attitude attributed to each. It is very much palpable. To a true Calcuttan, there is nothing like east or west, it’s only north and south!

 Tram Decoration

Tram Decoration

Calcutta can drive you crazy with its amazing food, art, music, and culture. It is rightly called the cultural capital of India. Mystic saints, street artists, throngs of  cultural buffs (popularly known as intellectuals or আঁতেল), opulent hotels and buildings along with an impoverished community, have made Calcutta a city of extremes. Once you are in the city, the city resides in your heart forever.

The credit as the founder of Calcutta goes to Job Charnock, an employee of the East India Company. Three villages, Kolikata, Gobindopur, and Sutanuti comprised the area of the city at that time, that is, more than 300 years ago. But Calcutta is evergreen, even with her age, she has not lost even a drop of her charm. Moreover, maturity has added sensuality to her.

Howrah Bridge

Howrah Bridge

Calcutta sits in the Ganga (Hooghly) river basin.The Howrah Bridge or Rabindra Setu, the only cantilever bridge of India, sprawling along the river is the signature landmark and gateway to the city.The Howrah Station is the busiest railway station in India. Another bridge, a comparatively new one, the Second Hooghly Bridge or Vidyasagar Setu is one of the longest cable-stayed bridge in Asia. Connectivity in Calcutta has some unique features as the trams and hand-pulled rickshaws. You’ll also find typical yellow taxis here, all of them being ambassador or fiat models. The old-fashioned hand-pulled rickshaws of the north are starkly juxtaposed with the underground metro rail services of the south. City of contrasts, it is.

Vidyasagar Setu (Second Hooghly Bridge)

The architecture of the city is a concoction of Victorian, Gothic, typical Bengal and contemporary. The serpentine lanes of North Calcutta, with rows of houses alongside, are in absolute contrast with the thoroughfare of the south. The Victoria Memorial is a vast, beautifully decorated building white marble building. The Old GPO building, with its central rotunda soaring nearly 40m around a statue of a lance-wielding mail runner, is another iconic building of the city. Raj Bhavan, Mother Teresa House, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Armenian Church of Nazareth (established 1707), an amalgamation of different ethnicity, class, culture and religion have given the city a unique colour over the years.

The Grand Victoria Memorial

The Grand Victoria Memorial

The people of Calcutta exhibit an amazing sense of connectivity even with strangers. It is perhaps, the only city in the world where one stops to talk with an outsider without any hesitation. A city leery of ‘bandh’, where the inhabitants love to dawdle, a city which knows to make you feel at home the moment you step in, a city where there is poetry in the air, painting on the roads and music in the hearts- is my city, Calcutta.

I am thankful to for giving me the opportunity to write about Calcutta, the city where I live, and the city which lives in me.

Image Courtesy ( 3rd & 4th): here & here

74 responses to “The City With A Soul

  1. Pingback: Durga Puja in Kolkata, 2016, Thoughts and Pictures | Scattered Thoughts·

  2. I have lived the best part of my career in Calcutta.There is not a bit of exaggeration in your description of that warm city and lively people..You have brought out the soul of the city in your beautifully written post.Ii is two decades since I visited the place and I hope it still retains its old world charm.
    Thanks for visiting my blog and I am indebted to Sunita.I shall follow your blog regularly

    • It’s great to know that you had been to Calcutta. The city is very close to my heart as a Bengali🙂 That you share same sentiment with the city is really wonderful to know. Thank you so much for stopping by…🙂

      Yes, I’m indebted to Sunita as well…🙂

  3. Lovely account on Kolkata. First time got to know about the founder of the city. I have an invitation for Payesh there. Hope to visit before the expiry of offer.😛😀

  4. Great description for me to learn about somewhere close to your heart, Maniparna. This was fascinating and your choices of places was very informative. Smiles, Robin

  5. Wow! What a dissertation! My grandma was a bong from Kolkata. I have never been there, but always am intrigued by Kolkata. Still remember those long forgotten tales of her city, which she used to regale me with. May be, it’s the bong blood streak, which is responsible for the streak of music and art in me.😀

    Wish I visit the magic city some day! Amen!

  6. what a heady mix of a city, it sounds lovely I have been pondering a trip to India for a while and Mumbai was on my list but that must be joined by Kolkata now, it sounds amazing and I would fill many blog posts with photos and thoughts.

    • That’s great to know that you are toying with the idea of visiting India. Make sure to have Kolkata in your itinerary. I can also suggest some not-so-famous but beautiful places to visit in my country..🙂
      Glad you liked the post…thank you…🙂

      • I like to go places that are not on the tourist trail, to see the real country and experience it as it should be. It’s enticing to think of such adventures.

  7. A lovely tribute to your city and nice pictures too! That’s the outcome of knowing something inside out. My father got a chance to live in Calcutta when he was very young. He always called it ‘kalkatta’ in his Hindi style, although he could speak Bangla as well. My dad’s sister, that is my auntie, still lives there with her family. When we were young, her annual visits to our place in Chandigarh were always oozing with Calcutta, and my very stylish cousins would deliberately speak in Bangla whenever it suited them. I can go on and on. Basically, a very fine culture!

    • Thanks, Alka. Glad to know about your bong connection. Many Punjabi and Sikh families live here and through years, have contributed much to the culture. Tadka-roTi has become almost a Bengali cuisine now😀 ( I love it and make it at home, authentic Punjabi recipe). Don’t know why, but I’ve a soft corner for the Punjabi culture. I like the spontaneity and openness of the people, their cuisines. I visited Chandigarh once only and I loved the city. So clean and pollution-free and vast green fields at the outskirts…I want to visit it again.

  8. Such a lovely introduction to your city. Didn’t know Calcutta had Victorian architecture – just like Australia. Beautiful shot of the Second Hooghly Bridge – that purple looks magnificent, and I hear that is a popular colour in Indian culture. I am sure it’s a bustling city too with people always on the move left, right and centre🙂

  9. That makes a perfect reading for beginners…I am sure there is a lot more that can be said about Calcutta, a city I know only through the books and poems of Rabindranath Tagore and movies. Just flew through it once to catch a connecting flight and couldn’t get an opportunity to actually visit.
    You have written with the endearing eye of a poet who seems to have great admiration for its divergent communities. Thanks for sharing a wonderful perspective. Loved reading it.

  10. Calcutta is a lovely city. It’s very far from my place but we share a lot of things in common. Good football team, good movies etc.

    You forgot to write about Shreya Ghoshal. She connects the whole of India, and she is a Bengali though a Mumbaikar😛 (pun intended)


    PS: I’m not a great fan of the name kolkata for some reason😦

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