Calcutta History

Calcutta is the capital city of the Indian state of West Bengal. It is the second largest city in India after Mumbai. It is located on the East bank of the River Hooghly. When it is called Calcutta, it includes the suburbs. This makes it the third largest city of India. This also makes it the world's 8th largest metropolitan area as defined by the United Nations. Calcutta has 14.7 million people in 115 miles.

Calcutta served as the capital of India during the British Raj until 1911. Calcutta was once the center of industry and education. However, it has witnessed political violence and economic problems since 1954. Since 2000, Calcutta has grown due to economic growth. Like other metropolitan cities in India, Calcutta struggles with poverty, pollution and traffic congestion.

The discovery of the nearby Chandraketugarh, an archaeological site has proved that people have lived there for over two millennia. The history of Calcutta begins when the English East India Company arrived in 1690. Job Charnock, an administrator with the Company is traditionally known as the founder of this city. However some academics say that Charnock is not the city's founder.

At that time Calcutta, ruled by the Nawab of Bengal Siraj-Ud-Daulah, had three villages. They were Kalikata, Govindapur and Sutanuti. The British in the late 17th century wanted to build a fort near Govindapur. This was to become more powerful than Dutch, the Portuguese, and the French. In 1702, the British completed the construction of old Fort William, which was used to station its troops and as a regional base. Calcutta was declared a Presidency City, and later became the headquarters of the Bengal Presidency.

When regular fights with French forces started, in 1756 the British began to upgrade their fortifications. When this was protested, the Nawab of Bengal Siraj-Ud-Daulah attacked and captured Fort William. This led to the infamous Black Hole incident. A force of Company sepoys and British troops led by Robert Clive recaptured the city the next year. Calcutta became the capital of British India in 1772,. However, the capital shifted to the hilly town of Shimla during the summer months every year, starting from the year 1864.

Richard Wellesley, the Governor General between 1797–1805, helped in the growth of the city and its public architecture. This led to the description of Calcutta as "The City of Palaces". The city was a centre of the British East India Company's opium trade during the 18th and 19th century; locally produced opium was sold at auction in Calcutta, to be shipped to China.