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East Meets West
Charnock's Folly
Hon'ble Company
Rule Britannia
Grand Old Lady
New Horizons

What Calcutta lacks in years it makes up in intensity. Calcutta is a mere 300 years old, compared to India's 5000 years, but most landmarks, physical or otherwise, of its 300 years exist, only slightly worn with age. While Calcutta lacks the archaeological sites of Athens, Cairo, Delhi and Rome, it is rich in living institutions that go back centuries. Parts of the riverfront south of the city are covered by rainforests just like they were when the first European traders  arrived. The streets of Calcutta's Dalhousie Square and Chowringhee districts are lined with neo-Gothic and neo-Renaissance buildings that speak the tales of the Scots businessmen, who came as much to build and trade as they did to pillage, plunder and swindle, that defined the first wave of globalization in the 18th and 19th centuries. Also, there are museums that are just a few years younger than the oldest in the world, and the oldest golf course outside of the United Kingdom & Ireland, pre-dating the first in the United States by over half a century. South Park Street Cemetery is the final resting place of many pioneers, including a son of Charles Dickens. And as you walk down the streets you bump into plaques that remind you that a certain house was the birthplace of the English novelist, William Makepeace Thackeray and another was where Dr. Ronald Ross first discovered the fact that malaria was borne by mosquitoes. The street names have history, too - you could be walking by Mission Row, a busy street leading to the Dalhousie Square area, and you might just miss in the din, the Old Mission Church, established by Swedish missionaries in 1767. Nearby, if you drove into the town of Chandernagor, you might just miss the gateway proclaiming Liberty, Fraternity and Equality, from where, for the next few miles the Grand Trunk Road becomes Rue de Paris. Chandernagor was a French colony until 1956 (actually the French administration was unceremoniously evicted in 1949, but the possession was not officially handed over to India until 1956), and is still reflected in the absence of English signs in the local museum (all information is in Bengali and French!).

Calcutta is truly a city where history comes walking down and meets you halfway on the street. While India's 5000 years of history are showcased in the Indian Museum, all of modern India is showcased on the streets of Calcutta, where it happened anc continues to happen today.

Focus Calcutta Initiative, Inc. Contents may be used for non-commercial purposes without malicious intent. Last modified December 10, 2003