The Kolkata we know today is not the Kolkata that once was; of course, this holds true for most cities. But some lesser known facts about Kolkata are going to astonish you to say the least. If you happen to be looking for Kolkata travel guide before travelling to the ‘City of Joy,’ we suggest you also look at this list of facts about Kolkata. The city has been around for a long time, and one of the most common facts about the city is that it used to be the Capital of British India. Much of what the British left behind still stands in the city, and you will find yourself in a time capsule here in the old city of West Bengal. But there are numerous such facts, most of which are rather unknown, so here we go with the list.
It has the oldest golf club in India
Of course, the nouveau riche wouldn’t believe this, but Kolkata has the oldest gold club in India. The Royal Calcutta Golf Club was in fact founded in 1829, and you would be surprised to know that it is the oldest golf club outside the British Isles. The golf club has gone through numerous changes through the years, and is by far one of the most prestigious institutions in the country.
The first metro network in India
Yes, we have metro networks now in Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore, but Kolkata was the first Indian city to get a metro network in the country. In fact, the seed of this amazing transportation system was sown way back in 1950s when Bidhan Chandra Roy, the then Chief Minister of West Bengal, first conceived the idea. The foundation stone of this project was laid down in the year 1972 by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Indian Chinese originated here
The Chinese food that we relish in our country first originated in Kolkata. Why? It is because the city has the only Chinatown in the country, and is home to more than 1000 Chinese people from the Hakka community. They gave birth to the famous Indian-Chinese food. Kolkata’s Chinatown is full of Chinese restaurants run by Chinese people, so you are in for a massive treat here in this part of the city. Next time you order a plate of Hakka noodles, remember where it originated!
The oldest and the widest
The city is home to the oldest and the widest banyan tree in the world. Known as The Great Banyan Tree, you can catch a glimpse of this at Kolkata’s Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Botanical Garden. The tree covers an area of 3.5 ac of land, and is over 250 years old. The Great Banyan tree however does not have its main trunk anymore, as they had to cut it to let the rest of it survive. It was a 51 ft wide trunk!
The oldest operating electric tram network in Asia
The grand old city still operates the tram, and you can actually go from one place to another in it. Perhaps, the best part is that people still use it to commute, and not just for a joy ride. The electric tram first came into existence in 1902, but it existed even before 1902. Before electric trams, there was the horse-drawn tram, and the first horse-drawn tram operated between Sealdah and Armenian Ghat Street in 1873.
Home to the most attended book fair in the world
The incredible Kolkata book fair is the largest non-trade book fair, and also the most attended book fair in the world. It was first organised in the year 1976. It gets annual footfall of 2.5 million attendees, and is a massive affair in the city. Some people are in attendance every single day, just to be amidst books and enjoy the winter days.