Introducing Kolkata (Calcutta)
India’s second-biggest city is a daily festival of human existence, simultaneously noble and squalid, cultured and desperate. By its old spelling, Calcutta conjures up images of human suffering to most Westerners. But locally, Kolkata is regarded as India’s intellectual and cultural capital. While poverty is certainly in your face, the dapper Bengali gentry continues to frequent grand old gentlemen’s clubs, back horses at the Calcutta Racetrack and tee off at some of India’s finest golf courses.
As the former capital of British India, Kolkata retains a feast of colonial-era architecture, albeit much in a photogenic state of disrepair. Meanwhile urban slums contrast with dynamic new-town suburbs and a rash of air-conditioned shopping malls. Kolkata’s also the ideal place to experience the mild, fruity tang of Bengali cuisine. Friendlier than India’s other metropolises, this is a city you ‘feel’ more than simply visit.