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White Town–British Kolkata

September 14, 2009

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Although it played a central role in the rise of the British empire, Kolkata is a fairly recent creation.  It was founded by a British merchant in 1686 and in 1698 the British East India Company arrived.

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By 1706 the population of Calcutta was roughly between 10,000 and 12,000.   It increased to nearly 120,000 by 1752 and to 180,000 by 1821 .

IMG_1490A monument to Indira Ghandi.

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The White Town was built on ground that had been raised and drained.  The British created a miniature version of London on the banks of the Hooghly River with stately buildings, boulevards, English churches and grand formal gardens.

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St. Paul’s Cathedral was named after St. Paul’s in London.

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We walked along the Maidan.  The Maidan is referred to as the lungs of Kolkata but literally means “open field”.  There are cricket and football (soccer) stadiums and a race course.  Some horses graze peacefully while others pull carriages.

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Victoria Memorial is the most impressive reminder of the Raj (the reign of the British) in all India.  It was built to memorialize Queen Victoria, Empress of India.

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Bill and I spent a long time in the museum partly because it had a fascinating exhibit on the history of Kolkata and partly because it was air conditioned.  When we left, another monsoon cloudburst had sent Bengalis to outwait it under arches and doorways.

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From White Town, British Kolkata, we traveled the short yet vast distance to Black Town, Indian Kolkata.

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