History of Kolkata

Calcutta as pronounced by the English, now called as Kolkata is the capital of the Indian State of West Bengal. The city located in eastern India was a colonial city developed by the British Empire and was the capital of the British India Empire until 1911. Before the British rule, Kolkata was a small village and the capital of Bengal was Murshidabad which is situated at a distance of 60 miles from the present city. Calcutta was captured in the year 1757 by Robert Clive by defeating Siraj-Ud-Daulah in the battle of Plassey. Being the then capital and the second city of the British Empire, Kolkata grew rapidly in the 19th century. The city has with it the revolutionary history of Indian struggle for independence.

History of Kolkata

How Kolkata got its name ?

Kolkata, formerly known by the name of Calcutta has undergone a sea change in a very short span of time. Kolkata as it stands today is the largest metropolitan city of India. There is much discussion about the origin of the city's name. According to some the name of the city has been derived from the Bengali word Kalikshetra, meaning the ground of goddess Kali. Yet others are of the opinion that the name has been derived from the term Kilkila, meaning flat surface in Bengali. Historically as per literature, there is an ironical story that relates to how Calcutta got its name. Calcutta had its name when an English person inquired about the name of the place to a farmer. The farmer unable to understand English language interpreted it and thought they were asking "When did you cut this paddy?" The farmer assumed the question and frantically replied "cul kata"( meaning cut yesterday in Hindi) and then it was named Calcutta.

The most accepted view is that it comes from the Hindu goddess Kali and the original name was KaliKshetra, "the place of Kali".The city was named Calcutta by the British Power and the place continued to be called so till 2001 A.D. when the city was officially renamed as Kolkata.

Evolutionary History of Kolkata

In the 17th century, Job Charnock came to the banks of the river Hooghly and took the lease of three large villages - Sutanuti, Govindapur and Kolikata (Calcutta) to establish British East India Company in the Bengal region. The sites were carefully selected which were on the bank of the river Hooghly on the west and salt lakes on the east. The selection of the sites were very important due to the presence of a river. The villages were bought from the local landlords and the company was given the right to carry on its trade with full autonomy by the Mughal emperors with an annual premium of Rs.3000.

History of KolkataThe above depiction of Kolkata makes it absolutely clear to us that Job Charnock had an undeniable role in the evolution of the city. So, many people in the yester years thought Mr. Charnock as the founding father of the city of Kolkata. But the extensive research works in recent years have proved that there was no specific year and date (24th August, 1690) in so far as the foundation of the city is concerned. In this regard we can refer to the historic judgment of the Kolkata High Court on 16th of May 2003. The court formed an expert committee of historians to look into this matter. The judgment clearly showed that the city of Kolkata has evolved through a process of rural settlement; and this process further intensified as a result of the establishment of the British trading factories. Consequently, the modernization of the city began with the rapid growth of free trade in the region. Researchers have also found that Kolkata had an important value as a trading port during the Gupta’s and the Mauryas. During the days of Raj, Kolkata was second in status after London with all the liberal flavor and vibrancy. It was like a jewel in the crown of the British umpire.

The city kept progressing until 1756, when Nawab of BengalSiraj-Ud-Daula assailed and prospered in driving the British away from the town. The British civilians had eluded, but a few of them were captured and confined in a suffocating room often called as the Black Hole of Calcutta. This incident has become a history in itself and was given the designation 'Ebony aperture tragedy'. In 1757, the following year, Battle of Plassey took place, in which Robert Clive surmounted the city by vanquishing the Nawab.

Kolkata historical milestones

In 1774 the cessation of battle witnessed the establishment of a Supreme Court making Calcutta as the base of justice. However the crucial Battle of Plassey totally drained the wealth of the city, a major which strained the Bengal's economy. The period between 1820 and 1930 optically discerned the growing of seeds of nationalism with the bubbling revolution in 1905, when people disregarded and stood against Lord Curzon's plan regarding the partition of Bengal. The nationalist anti partition forms of kinetics were led by Rabindranath Tagore. However, the Partition was repeated for the second time in 1911. With this the capital of India was shifted from Calcutta to Incipient Delhi. In the year 2001, Calcutta was officially renamed Kolkata.

During the time of the British rule in India, Kolkata played a key role in both political and cultural reformation. Eminent personalities like Subhash Chandra Bose, Rabindra Nath Tagore and Swami Vivekananda had chosen this place as their Karma Bhumi or a place of activity. Till 1911, Calcutta was the capital of India, with important establishment like the Supreme Court. The capital was then shifted to Delhi and the city became the capital of West Bengal.


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