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City Profile: Kolkata

Overview:
Kolkata is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal and is the principal commercial, cultural and educational centre of East India. The city and its suburbs, has a population of approximately 14.1 million, making it the third-most populous metropolitan area in India. Kolkata’s metropolitan area is spread over 1,886.67 sq. km (728.45 sq mi) and comprises 3 municipal corporations (including Kolkata Municipal Corporation), 39 local municipalities and 24 panchayat samitis, as of 2011.

Kolkata is the only city in eastern India to have an international airport. Kolkata is home to many industrial units operated by large public- and private-sector corporations. Major sectors include steel, heavy engineering, mining, minerals, cement, pharmaceuticals, food processing, agriculture, electronics, IT & software, textiles, and jute. As of 2010, Kolkata, with an estimated gross domestic product (GDP) by purchasing power parity of 150 billion dollars, ranked third among South Asian cities, after Mumbai and Delhi. Kolkata hosts the headquarters of three major public-sector banks: Allahabad Bank, UCO Bank, and the United Bank of India.

The region has about 14 Universities including the second oldest engineering university and the very first Indian Institute of Management. Kolkata is known for its literary, artistic, and revolutionary heritage. As the former capital of India, it was the birthplace of modern Indian literary and artistic thought.

General Information
Climate

In Kolkata, during the summer months (mid – February to June), temperatures range from 35 degrees centigrade (95 deg F) to 40 degrees centigrade (104 deg F). Occasional “norwesters” (storms that comes from the north-west) in March, April and May bring welcome cool winds and rain. Most rainfall is during the monsoons (June to September). The cool weather starts in late November and continues until February when temperatures vary between 10 degrees centigrade (50 deg F) to 25 degrees centigrade (77 deg F). During this period, however, the city suffers from heavy vehicular pollution, especially during the evening and early morning hours.

Transportation

How to get there
Air:
Kolkata is linked to many places throughout India by domestic airlines, while a few international and domestic airlines operate overseas air services directly linking the city with Dhaka, Chittagong, Kathmandu, Paro, Bangkok, Yangon, Singapore, Amman, and Dubai. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose Airport is located seven miles east of the city and is the only airport serving Kolkata. Prepaid taxis from both the international and domestic terminals are recommended for passengers not being met by friends or hotel car.

Rail: Served by four railway terminals, Kolkata is linked to most cities and towns of India by an extensive network.

  • HOWRAH STATION, situated on the right bank of the Hooghly River, is the largest railway station in Asia. The station can be reached via the Howrah Bridge or the Vidyasagar Setu (a second Hooghly Bridge). It is the largest, oldest and second busiest station in India and has about 28 platforms. The trains bound for western, northern and southern India, starts from here.
  • SEALDAH STATION is the station where trains to north Bengal and eastern India originate and terminate.
  • SHALIMAR STATION is located on the west side of Hooghly River near the botanical garden. It can be reached via the Vidyasagar Setu. A few trains to west India runs from here.
  • KOLKATA STATION (CHITPUR) is located in the northern part of the city and is the newest terminal station in Kolkata. A few trains to north east India runs from here.

Public Transportation: Metered taxis (both AC & Non AC) are numerous and the best mode of transport. Fare for non AC metered taxi is Rs. 10.00 per km and for AC taxi Rs. 15.00 per km. Non-AC metered taxis are yellow colored and are available everywhere. The method of calculating exact fare is as follows: Double the fare shown in the meter and add Rs. 2.00. The reason for this way of calculation is that the taxi meters are calibrated according to the old fare; whereas with the increase in fuel price, fares have increased proportionately. AC metered taxis are also available on call (Megacab: 91-33-41414141). The actual fare for Megacab is what is shown in the meter. Rental cars are also available. The Kolkata Metro Rail (underground railway), is the first of its kind in India and been in operation since 1986. It has become increasingly popular and runs from Garia to Dum Dum and covers a distance of about 24 km in about 40 minutes. It runs from 7:00 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. on weekdays and 2:00 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. on Sundays. Trams, buses, mini buses and rickshaws are available. There are ferry/launch services in the Hooghly River as well. The West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation (http://www.westbengaltourism.gov.in/wb/) operates conducted sightseeing tours in and around Kolkata daily as well as river cruises.

Sightseeing
Kolkata is called the cultural capital of India. Local sightseeing includes the Howrah Bridge (Rabindra Setu), 2nd Hooghly Bridge (Vidyasagar Setu), the Victoria Memorial, Eden Gardens (Stadium), Salt Lake Stadium, Birla Planetarium, Marble Palace, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Writer's Building, Nicco Park, Saheed Minar, National Library, Belur Math, Botanical Gardens, Millennium Park. To unwind after a busy day, enjoy nightlife in Kolkata by visiting nightclubs and discotheques in the city. These include Tantra, Someplace Else, Shisha, Aqua, Underground and Dublin. Kolkata’s nightclubs currently close at 11:30 p.m., unless extended on occasion by special permission.

Within a three hour drive of Kolkata is the Sunderban, a wildlife haven and home for Royal Bengal tigers. Boats leave Kolkata almost daily. The West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation (http://www.westbengaltourism.gov.in/wb/) has updated schedule and fare information.

Best Restaurants to visit
Park Street remains Kolkata's foremost dining district, with many restaurants and pubs. It is often known as "Food Street" and "The Street that Never Sleeps". Some of the famous eateries located on the Park Street include, Bar-B-Q, Peter Cat, Blue Fox, Trinca’s, Marco Polo, and Magnolia. You can also find McDonald’s, KFC and Barista (coffee) outlets. Especially noted for local Bengali cuisine are Oh! Calcutta and Kewpie's Kitchen. For Italian cuisine, Fire & Ice, Italia In Cucina, Little Italy are available. For excellent mughlai dishes and kebabs, visit Barbeque Nation or Crazy Kebabs. For quick snacks, one can definitely try rolls (Veg/Egg/Chicken/Mutton). Kolkata is also India’s sweets capital with variety of mouthwatering delicacies to try ranging from Rosogolla, ros-malai, to chamcham and misti doi.

Shopping options
Kolkata is a great place to shop. One can buy beautiful cotton and silk sarees as well as leather items (shoes, jackets and bags), handicrafts and ready-made clothes. There are numerous markets and malls which offer a diverse array of products to choose from. Notable shopping areas include New Market, AC market, Metro shopping arcade, City Center I & II, South City Mall, Forum Mall, Vardaan Market and many state government emporiums (handicraft stores).

Medical Facilities
Kolkata has a number of good to very good private hospitals and nursing homes. Apart from catering to the local population, it serves the population of neighboring states and countries like Bangladesh, Nepal & Bhutan. Doctors in Kolkata are mostly well trained and highly experienced. Notable private hospitals and nursing homes include, Apollo Gleneagles Hospital, B.M. Birla Heart Research Centre, Belle Vue Clinic, Calcutta Medical Research Institute (CMRI), Peerless Hospital & B.K. Roy Research Centre, RNTIICS, Ruby General Hospital, Woodlands Multispecialty Hospital Limited.

U.S Consulate/U.S. Commercial Service Offices
Consulate General of the United States of America
5/1, Ho Chi Minh Sarani,
Kolkata – 700 071, West Bengal, India
Telephone: 91-33-3984 2400
Facsimile: 91-33-2282 2335

U.S. Commercial Service
Consulate General of the United States of America
American Center
38-A, Jawaharlal Nehru Road,
Kolkata - 700 071
Telephone: 91-33-3984 6300
Facsimile: 91-33-2288-1207
Email: Calcutta.office.box@trade.gov