How is life in Calcutta


Suspended megacity, despite culture and tradition

The river Hooghly, tributary of the holy Ganges, shapes the image of Calcutta with its wide bridges. The megacity is located on the eastern edge of India and was once the political center.

The megacity of Calcutta in West Bengal (& copy NASA)


Calcutta is located on the eastern edge of India, near the border with Bangladesh. With over 14 million inhabitants, the metropolitan region is currently the eighth largest urban agglomeration in the world. In India, Calcutta is the third most populous city in the country after Mumbai and Delhi.

Calcutta is located in the western Ganges delta on the Hooghly River, an estuary of the Ganges - the sacred river of the Hindus. Two cities belong to the core of the growing metropolitan region of Calcutta: Calcutta, on the eastern bank of the Hooghly, and Howrah on the western. The two twin cities are connected by several bridges across the Hooghly. But the hierarchy is clear: Calcutta is the more important of the two cities.

Modern Calcutta was founded in the early 17th century and experienced rapid growth. Until 1911, Calcutta was the capital of the British colonial power in India. But with India's independence in 1947 at the latest, Calcutta increasingly lost its importance. With the division of the subcontinent, the city slid to the eastern edge of the country. Thousands of refugees from East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, poured into the city after 1947. There were also internal migrants: To this day, many of them come from the nearby state of Bihar, one of the poorest in India. Calcutta was bursting at the seams: Illegal settlements emerged, some of them slums. Today Calcutta has the reputation of a poor house. The name of the city is closely linked to the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mother Teresa, who founded a hospice in Calcutta and looked after the dying, orphans and sick until her death in 1997. But Calcutta is also an important center of India for art and culture.