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     Volume 7 Issue 22 | May 30, 2008 |

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Photo Story

Oh Kolkata!

Photos: Zahedul I Khan

The encounter with western enlightenment engendered a literary transformation, which made Kolkata the cultural capital of India, or the Paris of the East. Being the second largest city in India, Kolkata is a medley of moods, style, cultures, politics, industry and commerce. It was the first city in India to feel the social and political impact of colonialism, later to be known as the showpiece capital of the British Raj, and the greatest colonial city of the Orient until 1912.

The ever-famous Victoria Memorial, a popular haunt for Kolkatans

The British defeated Siraj-ud-daullah (the then Nawab of Bengal) on the battlefield of Plassey and Kolkata became the capital of British India. Thereafter, the city continued to play a major role in the political affairs of India. Until 1947, the city was a venue for major political programmes and plans for social reformation. The former was meant to remove British troops from Indian soil while the latter was to create social consciousness among the people.

This city of love, hope and joy displays an unparalleled kaleidoscope of various contrasts, which are unseen anywhere else in the world. It is a unique blend of ancient and anon, occidental and oriental, skyscrapers and Victorian edifices, and a haven of rich as well as poor.

An old apartment complex for VIPs in central Kolkata.

Kolkata evokes the strongest and the strangest responses from its citizens and visitors. Ask any loyal Kolkatan to explain his or her attachment to their city and the inevitable response will be something like: 'There is something about the place'. The vagueness of the response is perhaps permissible because, after all, how does one define the joy and attraction we have to life itself?

The shabby side of old Kolkata

Kolkata's British legacy lives on in its architecture

The city of taxis. Getting a cab is the easiest thing to do in this city The ubiquitous ramshackle tram symbolises the slow-paced life of old Kolkata

The City Centre is part of Kolkata's new look
The Bangali babu on a Salt Lake bus  

Click on the image to englarge

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