7 Interesting Facts about Kolkata

Kolkata – or Calcutta in English – is the capital of the state of West Bengal in India. It is located on the Hooghly river and during the British Rule in India it was the country’s most important trading port. With a long history and a mix of cultural influences, Kolkata is a fascinating city with a lot to offer visitors. So, from big trees to big bridges, old clubs and old trams, here are some of the most interesting facts about Kolkata.

7 Interesting Facts about Kolkata

1. Kolkata is a Million Plus city

The city of Kolkata has an estimated population of 4.6 million. Cities with populations of 1 million and above are known as Million Plus UAs or Cities. Kolkata’s metropolitan area has a population of more than 14.3 million. This makes it the third-largest metropolitan area in India after Delhi and Mumbai. This also makes it the eighth-largest metropolitan area in the world.

2. Kolkata was previously called Calcutta

Calcutta was a very important city for trade during Britsh Rule in India. For this reason, Kolkata was the capital of the country. In 1911, the officials made Delhi the new capital city of India. Up until 2001, the official name of the city was Calcutta. The city’s name has always been pronounced Kolkata or Kôlikata in Bengali, Calcutta is the anglicised form. Officials changed the name to Kolkata to match Bengali pronunciation.

interesting facts about Kolkata

3. The world’s busiest cantilever bridge is in Kolkata

The Howrah Bridge is a balanced cantilever bridge that spans the Hooghly River in Kolkata. The Braithwaite, Burn & Jessop Construction Co. started building the bridge in 1936 and they finished construction in 1942. The bridge opened in 1943. This bridge doesn’t have any nuts or bolts as it was formed by riveting the whole structure. In 1965, officials renamed the bridge the Rabindra Setu after the renowned poet Rabindranath Tagore. With a span of 1,500 ft (457.2 m), it is the sixth-longest cantilever truss bridge in the world. The bridge carries both vehicular and pedestrian traffic. Roughly 100,000 cars and more than 150,000 pedestrians cross the bridge daily, making it the busiest cantilever bridge in the world.

interesting facts about Kolkata

4. Kolkata is home to The Great Banyan Tree

For the past 342 years, Kolkata was home to the oldest and widest banyan tree in the world. The Great Banyan Tree is in Kolkata’s Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Botanical Garden and covers around 14,500 square meters and scientists say it’s around 1,200 years old. The Great Banyan Tree survived two cyclones in 1864 and 1867, but unfortunately, in 2020 a cyclone hit West Bengal and severely damaged the tree’s peripheral stem and branches. In order to let the rest of the tree survive, botanists had to cut the 51 ft main trunk.

5. The Calcutta Polo Club is the world’s oldest polo club

Established in 1862, the Calcutta Polo Club is the oldest polo club in the world. Two British soldiers, Captain Robert Stewart and  Joe Sherer started the club after seeing a game called sagol kangjei played by locals on horses in Manipur, a state in Northwest India. The Calcutta Polo Club also runs the oldest and first-ever Polo Trophy, the Ezra Cup, the first of which was held in 1880.

6. The Kolkata tram network is the oldest in Asia

The electric tram network in Kolkata is the oldest operating electric tram network in Asia. The current network started operating in 1902. However, even before the first electric tram, there were horse-drawn trams. The first horse-drawn tram operated between Sealdah and Armenian Ghat Street in 1873.

interesting facts about Kolkata

7. Kolkata hosts the world’s largest book fair

The Calcutta Book Fair, now called The International Kolkata Book Fair is the largest non-trade book fair in the world and the most attended book fair in the world. It first Calcutta Book Fair was in 1976. Each year, around 2.5 million people attend with some people attending every single day of the two weeks of the festival.

Melanie May

Melanie is an intrepid solo traveller, endlessly curious about people, places and food. She is a fan of slow travel and loves exploring the world by mouth, discovering a culture through its food. Having backpacked her way around the world she turned her wanderlust into a career and is now a full-time travel writer.

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