What is the Capital City of West Bengal?

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what is the capital city of West Bengal

The Capital City of West Bengal is Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta. It is a city overflowing with culture and joy amongst its people. This Capital City of West Bengal is located on the eastern bank of the Hooghly River. Furthermore, Kolkata is known for its commerce, finance, and culture in the eastern part of India. Read on to learn more about what is the capital city of West Bengal, Kolkata. 

What is the History of Kolkata?

Kolkata has always been brimming with life, being a port city. Its history is rich and complex which goes back centuries. 

  • Archaeological evidence tells us that settlements in the area date back to the Maurya and Gupta empires which are from the 3rd century BC to the 6th century AD.
  • The Mughal Empire reigned over the region from the 16th to the 18th centuries. Kolkata was then known as Kalikata and was a growing trading post.
  • In 1690, Job Charnock, an agent of the British East India Company, established a trading post in Kolkata. Furthermore, the city’s importance grew under British rule, thus becoming the capital of British India in the year 1773.
  • During the 18th and 19th centuries, Kolkata prospered as a centre of trade, administration, and education. Moreover, the Capital City also was an important place for the rapidly growing Bengali Renaissance which was a cultural and intellectual movement.
  • After India’s independence in 1947, Kolkata faced economic problems but still remained an influential cultural centre.
  • However, today Kolkata continues to be a hearty city still going through modernisation while keeping its unique character and rich heritage.
An old picture of Kolkata
An old picture of Kolkata.

Demography of Kolkata

The Capital City of West Bengal, Kolkata’s population is 15,570,786 in 2024. 

  • The ratio in Kolkata is 899 females per 1000 males, which is lower than the national average. 
  • However, the literacy rate of Kolkata is 87%, which is higher than the national average of 74%.
  • Bengali is the predominant language in the capital city with Hindi and English also spoken by many people. 
  • Moreover, Hinduism is the most practised religion, and thereafter Islam, Christianity, and others.
  • Bengalis form the majority ethnic group in Kolkata, however, there are smaller populations of other Indian ethnicities.

Did you know? The Sundarbans which is the largest mangrove forest in the world is south of the Capital City of West Bengal, Kolkata.

Geography of Kolkata

You can locate Kolkata on the east bank of the Hooghly River which is a tributary of the Ganges. 

  • Additionally, the Capital City of West Bengal has a tropical wet-and-dry climate with hot, humid summers and mild winters being close to a water body.
  • Kolkata is relatively flat, with an average elevation of only 15 meters above sea level. 
Kolkata on the Map of India
Kolkata on the Map of India. Source: Google Maps 

Economy of Kolkata

Kolkata has a GDP of $160 billion or 13.2 trillion Indian Rupees hence making it the third largest city by GDP in India, after Mumbai and Delhi. 

  • The service sector mostly dominates the economy, as it includes finance, education, healthcare, and IT.
  • Furthermore, Kolkata is the financial centre and commercial hub of eastern India. 
  • The Calcutta Stock Exchange has an important part in the organised financial market.
  • Manufacturing is another sector in which the Capital City of West Bengal has a significant role. Moreover, it has the production of textiles, jute, engineering goods, and pharmaceuticals.
  • Being a port city, Kolkata is an important trading centre. The busy port on the Hooghly River encourages trade with other parts of India and internationally as well. 
Haldia Port on the Hooghly River
Haldia Port on the Hooghly River. 

Culture of Kolkata

Kolkata has always been known for its cultures, traditions as well as artistic expressions. 

  • The capital city is recognised for its rich literary tradition, thriving theatre scene, and outstanding visual arts. 
  • You cannot miss out on Rabindranath Tagore’s poetry to Satyajit Ray’s films as they have left an unforgettable mark on the essence of Indian art.
A Poem by Rabindranath Tagore, Where the Mind is Without Fear, in Bengali and its English translation
A Poem by Rabindranath Tagore, Where the Mind is Without Fear

  • Kolkata is a city that celebrates life. Durga Puja is a ten-day festival honouring the goddess Durga.
    • It is a spectacular event with vibrant pandals (which are temporary structures housing idols) and joyous celebrations. 
    • Moreover, other major festivals are Kali Puja, Saraswati Puja, and Christmas.
A vibrant pandal during Durga Puja

A vibrant pandal during Durga Puja

  • The Bengali cuisine is a treat to your senses as it features fragrant curries, fresh fish dishes, and savoury sweets like Roshogolla.
The delectable Roshogolla
The delectable Roshogolla

Why is Kolkata so Famous?

Now let us get to know why is Kolkata so famous!

  • Firstly, the historical significance that the Capital City of West Bengal holds. As it has also been the former capital of British India and a centre for the Bengali Renaissance. Moreover, Kolkata has had a significant part in shaping modern India.
  • The cultural aspect of the city’s rich artistic heritage, vibrant festivals, and mouthwatering cuisine make it an intriguing place to discover. 
  • Kolkata’s colonial-era buildings, like the Victorian mansions and the iconic landmarks like the Victoria Memorial and Howrah Bridge. 
The Victoria Memorial in Kolkata
The Victoria Memorial in Kolkata 

Howrah Bridge in Kolkata
Howrah Bridge in Kolkata


Why did Calcutta change its name?

Calcutta changed its name to Kolkata on the 1st of January 2001, as part of India’s effort to be free from colonial legacies and adopt indigenous names. The city’s Bengali residents had always called it Kolkata, and the anglicized “Calcutta” was deemed outdated since India’s independence.

Why is Kolkata called London of India?

Kolkata is not called the London of India. However, Mumbai (Bombay) is known as the London of India due to its modernised culture and architecture.

Why is Calcutta called Black city?

Calcutta, now Kolkata, is known as the “Black City” for many historical and cultural reasons. The term originated from the “Black Hole of Calcutta,” which was a notorious incident where many Europeans were imprisoned in a small lockup. Additionally, the revered Dakshineswar Kali Temple, where a finger of the goddess Kali is said to have fallen, adds to the city’s dark association. 

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