West Bengal Province

West Bengal is located in eastern India. It has 75 million inhabitants and an area of 87853 km2. The capital of the state is Calcutta. Bengali is spoken there. North Bengal is dominated by the Himalayas while the south is made up of fertile plains. The Ganges and Brahmaputra form a gigantic delta before flowing into the Bay of Bengal. The state is one of the most watered in the country (between 200 and 800 mm of water during the monsoon months.)

West Bengal is still considered as the cultural heart of India. Many intellectuals and artists were born there (the poet Rabendranath Tagore, the filmmaker Satyajit Ray). The state is the main producer of jute. It is famous for its tigers, Darjeeling tea plantations, silk saris.

Calcutta

Crossed by the Hooghly River, Calcutta is the capital of West Bengal. It has 12 million inhabitants, making it the second largest city in the country after Mumbai (Bombay). Officially the name of Calcutta is Kolkata since a government decision taken on 24 August 1999. But this change is far from having entered everyone’s mind, including India.

The history of Calcutta,

In terms of Indian history, the history of Calcutta is quite recent since the city has only existed as such since 1690, when Job Charnock, an official of the British India Company, received permission to build a factory in Sutanati on exactly August 24. In 1698 the Company obtained the right to collect property taxes on the cities of Sutanati, Kalikata and Govindapur. On this occasion, the three cities were brought together in a single city called Calcutta. In 1717, taking advantage of the weakening of the Mughal Empire, the Company obtained trade rights in Bengal. In 1735 the population reached 100,000 inhabitants.

Little by little, the Bengal Mogul mogul asserts his independence from the Mughal power. On June 20, 1756, the new Mogul, Siraj, attacked Calcutta and seized Fort William. Many English people died in one of the fort’s rooms. The episode will leave its mark on people’s minds and become famous under the name of “Black Hole Night”. The Company called on Robert Clive, who then directed Madras. On January 2, 1757 he retakes Calcutta alongside Admiral Watson and on June 23rd he definitively defeats Siraj’s troops during the Battle of Plassey. From then on, Calcutta’s influence would continue to grow. In 1764, Mir Kasim, the Bengal nabab, joined forces with the Mughal emperor Shah Alam and the Oudh nabab to attack the English. But the latter routed the Mogul’s troops during the Battle of Buxar. On August 12, 1765 clive signed a treaty under which England obtained tax collection in Bengal, Orissa and Bihar.

Calcutta became the capital of the British Empire in India. In 1772 Warren Hastings was appointed Governor of Bengal and Governor General the following year. The population then numbered 200,000. The governors then followed one another, extending English domination over India a little further.

Bengal also became the focus of the independence protest. Many reform movements were born in Calcutta under the impetus of Bengali intellectuals. Following numerous unrest and the bitter failure of the partition of Bengal, the British decided in 1912 to transfer the capital from Calcutta to Delhi. This transfer did not prevent Calcutta from continuing to grow, both economically and demographically. The city suffered enormously during independence because its population was composed of Hindus and Muslims. She suffered again in 1971 when Bangladesh was created as she experienced the influx of thousands of Pakistani refugees. It was at this time that Mother Theresa made the problems of Calcutta known to the whole world.

Today the city is still as overcrowded and presents visitors with an often desperate face. Calcutta is still the cultural capital of India and offers an undeniable and surprising charm. It is equipped with a metro.

West Bengal Guide: Religion
West Bengal Guide: Indian Cuisine