Kolkata became a British trading post in the last part of the 17th Century. The city that once served as the showpiece capital of the British power in India is noted for its colonial buildings including the grand Victoria Memorial. Other important sights include the Howrah Bridge, an engineering marvel that links the city and Howrah Station, and the Indian Museum. Gateway to eastern India and home to prominent intellectuals, the city is known for its easy pace and intellectual prowess.
In terms of the city’s cultural life, Kolkata’s Bengalis exude pride in their artistic heritage and like to see themselves as the intelligentsia of India. The city is home to a multitude of galleries and huge Indian classical music festivals, with a thriving Bengali-language theatre scene and a cinematic tradition brought world renown by director Satyajit Ray. It also has an enviable literary tradition, hosting a world-famous book fair and producing a string of award-winning authors.
Visitors still experience Kolkata first and foremost as a colonial city with the chief bastion of imperialism at its heart – the Writers’ Building, the seat of state government – little changed over the decades. Kolkata’s crumbling, weather-beaten buildings and slightly anarchic streets can create an intimidating first impression. With time and patience, though, this huge metropolis unravels its secrets, providing a fascinating conglomerate of styles and influences.
The River Hooghly, spanned by the remarkable cantilever Howrah Bridge, is not all that prominent in the life of the city. Instead, its heart is the green expanse of the Maidan, which attracts locals from all walks of life for recreation, sports, exhibitions.
At its southern end stands the white marble Victoria Memorial, and close by rising the tall Gothic spires of St Paul’s Cathedral. Next to the busy New Market area looms the eclectic Indian Museum housing one of the largest collections in Asia, ranging from natural history to art and archeology.
According to roughguides.com