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History of Kolkata

Unlike Delhi which is a historic city dating back to many centuries, Kolkata or Calcutta is a relatively new city just some three hundred years old. It is largely a British creation and was the capital of British India till the beginning of the 20th century.

In 1686, the British abandoned their trading post in Hooghly as the Mughals permitted the East India company to set up a base downriver at Sutanati, Govindpur and Kalikata, all small villages. Old Fort William was built there in 1696.

The city slowly gained ground and importance till 1756 when Siraj-ud-daulah Nawab of Murshidabad attacked the town. Most of the British fled the city but the unfortunate ones became prey to what came to be later known as the Black Hole of Calcutta.

Clive made peace next year, but the Nawab had other plans and sided with the French against the British. This led to his crushing defeat at the Battle of Plassey. The British made most of the lasting developments between 1780 and 1820. After that Kolkata became the hotbed of Indian nationalism. 1905 saw lot of unrest due to Lord Curzon’s division of Bengal, this was the reason why the capital had to be shifted to Delhi in 1911.

The independence of India and the end of the 20th century saw a positive change in Kolkata - from power to transport to telephones, a lot of the once crumbling infrastructure has now improved.

There is buoyancy in the air and these augers well for new industrial investment. However this city is a living urban horror with its teeming millions incremented by the influx of refugees during partition, during Bangladesh liberation and India’s own post independence population explosion.

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