History Of Calcutta
Calcutta was the capital of the British Empire. It was started in 1686 by Job Charnock. Initially the British settled in port at Hooghly (or Hugli).
But due to disagreements with the Mughals and it was a river side ,Charnock sought a new site for the British .
The villages :
were bought from the Sabarna Ray Choudhury family.
This was how it was presented in history. But actually it was leased to the Charnock for for monthly rent of 1300 Rs.
including Nawab Sirajul Dowla’s taking of Calcutta.
Calcutta was called by the Bengalis and local as Kolkata and later on in 2002 name was changed to Kolkata.
Kolkata later on.
During the British times ,until 1911 Calcutta was capital of British India.
Lots of people from the British Empire came to Kolkata to either work or for business.
Communities in Kolkata:
- Chinese Community- The Chinese came nearly 300 years ago and settled primarily in banks of Hooghly. Tong Atchew came in late 1700s ,and got a land grant from the British. Tong Atchew settled in Achipur ,Hooghly and later on moved to Calcutta.
- Iraqi-The Iraqis came in 19th Century and stay in Park Circus and Topsia.
- Jewish-The Jews came in the 18th century known as Baghdadi and contributed many ways and Nahom’s confectionary. Address : F20, Bertram St, New Market Area, Dharmatala, Taltala, Kolkata, West Bengal 700087, India. Don’t forget to taste their cakes and confectionary.
- Armenians- The Armenians came to Bengal in 17th Century :1645 after being invited by the Mughal Emperor Akbar. Some Armenians settled in Serampore, which is 31.4 km from Kolkata. Armenians also settled in Dhaka,Bangladesh.
- Greeks – The Greeks came in the 16th century to Bengal.
Places to Visit in Kolkata:
- Victoria Memorial –built by the British Raj between 1906 and 1921. It was dedicated to Queen Victoria. The Brainchild of Governor General Curzon. A walk of 15 minutes from New Market and pleasant place to visit in the morning.
- Howrah Bridge-This bridge was built in memory of Rabindranath Tagore. Not much to see ,it is a land mark built in 1939. If you go outside West Bengal or Kolkata you are going to cross Howrah Bridge to go to Howrah.
- Park Street– A great ,aristocratic street which contains well known prestigious shops and business. It is a night life since 1940’s.
- Fort William-Initiated by the British and reconstructed by Nawab Siraj ud Dowla.
- Old China Town-The Chinese community living in Kolkata has an area of its own. Tiretta Bazar is the place to visit.
- College Street– If you are looking for books ,old at throwaway prices. My mum used to say:” All books can found there” While you are there do not forget to visit Coffee House.
- Kolkata Coffee House– A legendary restaurant near Presidency College and College street. Lot of nostalgia in this restaurant. Even well known song has been sung by legendary Bengali Singer Manna Dey. “Coffee Houser adda ta..”. Famous visitors like Satyjit Ray, Amartya Sen made it more famous. The Person ‘Moidul” in the song by Manna Dey is now in Dhaka, Bangladesh. There is a great crowd there and food is not that great either. But you can say I went to visit Indian Coffee House.
- Marble Place. This Palace was built by Raja Rajendra Mullick,a wealthy merchant in 1835. Houses great Western and Victorian art. This Palace was featured in the French novel Le Vol des cigognes by Jean-Christopher Grange. Trip Advisor ratings:4/5.
- Tagore’s House
- Botanical Gardens
- Alipore Zoo
- Nakhoda Mosque
- Tipu Sultan Mosque.
Many other places and unlike few days going to cover. Thanks the weather is not so friendly in summer Best time to go is is OCT-December.
Nearby place are:
Digha- a beach with a peaceful stay.
Darjeeling. A getaway for the summer climate. It is far but in state of west Bengal.(13 hours by train. Not advisable to go by road if you are new to India)..
Darjeeling by train.
You can venture to Hooghly for a peaceful and have a look at colonials remains: British ,French and Portuguese (These guys were in Hooghly as early as 1590. Few hundred yrs before Calcutta by the British came into existence.
You may visit Itachuna in Hooghly and experience the luxury of living as a zamindar. That at a price of 6000 Rupees or $100 a night. A distance of 52 Km from Kolkata and takes 45 minutes from Howrah.(train junction for Kolkata).
- Shiraz.Delicious Biryani can be found in Shiraz in Park Street Kolkata. Muslim and Mughal cuisine. But even this biryani does not beat taste of Biryani in Lucknow near the Nawab’s Imam Bara. It was much cheaper too.(H)
- Aminia – Muslim and Mughal Cuisine, in New Market.(H)
- Nizam’s -Serving Rolls since 1923 and Biryani. This is too in New Market and it is also Muslim Food.(H)
- Oh! Calcutta– Great Biryani but have not tasted the one in Kolkata, they had a branch in Dhaka, I ate there.
- Flury’s -Place for Cakes and Pastries located in Park street. Reminding you of British times.(H)
- Mocambo- A legendary restaurant where even bollywood movie scrripted about.
- Royal -Biryani but not near New Market. (H).
- Eau Chew- Heritage Chinese Restaurant since 1920’s. Noodles and Soups. Cash only. (H)
- Mitra Cafe-Do not be deceived by Looks of the interior. Great food :Fowl, mutton… Do not know if they have Halal or Kosher.
- Cha Cha’s -This restaurant started its journey in 1875 when it was a tea stall owned by a Muslim owner known as Cha cha.(uncle). It was bought by Gosidas Patra and ever since serving tasty food. Best Food is :Fish Fry ,Fowl. The food might not be halal but it is a heritage restaurant.
- Picadilly Square -A popular Cafe famous for Waffles and coffee.
- 8th Day Cafe– The owner is originally from Arizona, USA. You get quality coffee and breakfast.
Sweets or Mistis:
Mistis is a term for desserts which really sweet in taste,. Not your European or Western Sweet. They are called chocolates ,regardless of if they contain any cocoa or not.
Famous Sweets are:
- Rosogolla. The King of Bengali Sweets and they had a war; of which state owns the right of being founding state .Bengalis are really passionate. If you are from West or Middle East you wont like as much as the Bengalis . But advice :Don’t dislike it in front of your Bengali Host. Say you will eat later and it is super.(you might want throw it out the window). I am Bengali and I did not like until after more than 30 years. Grew Up in Middle East;Jeddah.
- Sandesh– Another great sweet meat to taste if you like Bengali/Indian sweets. I never knew why they called Sweet Meat, since no meat at all: Milk and Sugar.
Restaurants for sweets are:
Girish Chandra Dey & Nakur Chandra Nandy- Serving since 1844. GC Das in Short. One of the Best
Ganguram Sweets: These are the leaders.
If you are looking for a mixture of Sweets and misc food:pizza,veg rools:
Halidram. They are very successful chain with quality Marwari sweets (from Rajstan) and their food. But customer service is not vet nice. Guys feel like they are Kings.
If you want food as souvenirs or want to eat at your hotel/home. Order online.
if you are looking to eat Bengali sweets in a modern interior setting.
There is Bangla Misti Hub:
It might be more expensive may be. Well some body has gotta pay for the interiors or they have good marketing policy.
Face Book Page of Bangla Misti Hub(BMH)
Nahoums is a Jewish Heritage Confectionary and you have to stand in a queue to buy food. Founded by a Baghdadi Jew in 1902 it still serves yummy Cakes and pastries. Located in New Market.
It was made by the Portuguese in their colony Bandel.
About 50 Km or less from Kolkata, takes half an hour by train. The Bandel Church by the Portuguese was built in 1590.
It can be found in New Market.