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History of Kolkata


Three prosperous villages, Sutanuti, Gobindapur and Kolikata would not be clustered together to form a city if not Job Charnock, an ambitious agent of East India Company had landed on the banks of Hooghly river about 350 years ago. The British emperors could foresee the manifold possibilities of this riverside locality and they started trading here on this land granted by the Mughal emperor. Thereafter, Kolkata or Calcutta went through blood-spattered days as the place was captured by the Mughal and recaptured by the British several times. In 1772, Calcutta or Kolkata became the capital of the country and the history of Kolkata started walking its own way. But long before Calcutta or Kolkata becoming the capital, it got mentioned in the 15th century Bengali epic, Mansamangal by Bipradas. It has also been mentioned that Chand Sadagar, the protagonist of the novel, came to Kalighat to worship Goddess Kali. There are other instances of literary, administrative and cultural references of the city found in many documents.

The first governor of Kolkata as a capital was Warren Hastings. During his era, all the important administrative departments were shifted from Murshidabad to Kolkata. The glorious history of Kolkata actually began its sojourn thereafter. In 1780, the first news paper, Bengal Gazette, got printed from Calcutta or Kolkata based printing house set up by James Hicky. Though the first tabloid of the city was The Calcutta Gazette got printed out in 1784. in 1801, Fort William College was set up. In 1804, the Governor House, which is still used as the Raj Bhawan, the residence of the governor was built. 1813 witnessed the establishment of Town Hall which is still one of the major hubs of culture and a good meeting point of the city.

Kolkata’s history would not be so colorful if some great personalities like Raja Rammohan Roy, Radhakanto Dev, and Swami Vivekananda had not born. In 1817, Hindu College (now known as Presidency College) was built. The college started its journey with 20 students with the initiative taken from Raja Rammohan Roy, Radhakanto Deb and David Hare. In 1828, one of the best landmarks in history, Shahid Minar was built. 1829 saw Satidaaha, a mediaeval, violent ritual of sacrificing life o f w widowed woman got banned by Rammohan Roy and William Bentinck, the then governor of the country. 1857 witnessed the birth of University of Calcutta, the hub of education of the city. In 1864 the General Post Office, in 1873 the first tramcar, the city was growing up. In 1883, first telephonic communication was made between Kolkata and Howrah though the present Howrah Bridge was not in today’s form then. It was a wooden bridge.

With the introduction of electricity in the city in 1899, the 19th century made adieu to the city. The history of Kolkata, therefore, entered its 20th century phase. In 1902, the first electric tram got introduced in the city. After three years, the city faced turmoil as the British rulers wanted to divide Bengal, the state. It was debarred for that time being. In 1911, the city lost its glory of being the capital of the country and the baton went to Delhi. Reasons are many, but many historians point out that the massive protest and agitation that the British rulers were facing made them shift the capital. The city-dwellers were compensated with the Nobel Prize that the world-poet Rabindranath Tagore received in 1913. Second World War, China War and furious 70’s hit the city with blood and terror. But with the emergence of industries and townships, the city is again waking up like a Phoenix bird. Since 2001, the city is being called Kolkata. The history of Kolkata is a proud story of a prime metro of the country.