Still widely known as Calcutta, the city was renamed a few years ago to the more authentic Kolkata. Many cities in India have recently been renamed to remove British naming legacies, and others are still considering name changes.
Kolkata was particularly awkward with regards to this movement to reclaim Indian names because many streets, parks, squares, and areas have been recently renamed. Many people use the old while many others use the new names. Probably most people use a combination of old and new incarnations. Three maps I was using, one on paper and two online, were entirely differently labelled with no coherence to using all original names or all the newest changes, each had a random mishmash of old and new label usage. Mostly this was just a problem when asking for help finding an address, as I rarely saw any road signs anyway. Signs at intersections indicating street names were very rare. Fortunately, the central area of Kolkata is smallish and easy to navigate with many remarkable landmarks to find oneself on a map.
It seemed to me that Kolkata showed much more British influence than other places I visited in India. Kolkata has long been a city with higher education, and it was suggested to me that the British chose to make this city a business centre due to the availability of professionally-trained staff. More than 100,000 Europeans lived and worked in Kolkata by 1773. It had been chosen as the headquarters base for the East India Company in 1686. With a current population estimated at 8 million and metropolitan area of 15 million, it was surprisingly easy to get around the main central areas.
The home where I stayed was part of the British legacy. Grandfather was a civil servant for the British and the family lived in a Western-style home of the era that was appropriate for entertaining English guests. Oversized proportions for today’s standards, it is the sole remaining home in the neighborhood now dominated by apartment complexes.
Double barbed-wire fencing and armed military with a running truck (it was running both times I walked past on two different days) stationed outside the main entrance of Victoria Memorial. Is this museum under constant threat of terrorism? Or do they protect from the risk of someone avoiding the newish 4Rs entry fee (8 cents)?
Everyday upon arriving home the uniformed security made me wait while detaining the dangerous Romeo, a guard dog from whom I needed protection. Then I would go up to my room, open the doors to my balcony, then open the doors from the balcony to the stairway. Two minutes later the dangerous Romeo would come for his ear rub.
I hope you have enjoyed my photos of Kolkata. If you travel India, do try to include this city in your itinerary. If you like my blog, please share it with your friends. Click on Facebook to share a link to this page. You can also follow me by email, click on “follow” at the bottom right and enter your email. You will get an email with a link when I make a new post. You can unfollow easily at any time. Thanks for visiting! Darren