What You Need To Know
is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. Located on the east bank of the Hooghly River, it is the principal commercial, cultural, and educational centre of East India, while the Port of Kolkata is India’s oldest operating port and its sole major riverine port.
In 2011, the city had a population of 4.5 million, while the population of the city and its suburbs was 14.1 million, making it the third-most populous metropolitan area in India. In 2008 its gross domestic product (adjusted for purchasing power parity) was estimated to be US$104 billion, which was the third highest among Indian cities, behind Mumbai and Delhi.
Population: 14.1 million(2011)
The Indian rupee (Rs) is India’s currency, and comes in denominations of Rs1,000, 500, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 notes. Coins come in denominations of Rs5, 2 and 1, as well as 50 and 25 paise. There are 100 paise in a rupee.
You can’t exchange Indian rupees outside of the country so if you’re going to need money to get to your hotel, you must head to the airport’s exchange bureau when you arrive.
The best exchange rates are offered by the banks in India, however the cheapest option is to withdraw cash from the ATMs as they are convenient and give the most competitive rates. You’ll find no shortage of unauthorised money changers, but it’s inadvisable to use them as you could be cheated easily.
ATMs are widely available in the big cities across India and they typically accept Cirrus and PLUS. Most ATMs allow you to withdraw Rs10,000 at a time, which is roughly US$200. Credit cards are accepted in the larger restaurants, hotels and shops, with Visa and MasterCard being the most popular; expect a two per cent service change. Traveller’s cheques are accepted at banks, hotels and some restaurants.
Kolkata is subject to a tropical wet-and-dry climate that is designated Aw under the Köppen climate classification. According to a United Nations Development Programme report, its wind and cyclone zone is “very high damage risk”.
The annual mean temperature is 26.8 °C (80.2 °F); monthly mean temperatures are 19–30 °C (66–86 °F). Summers (March–June) are hot and humid, with temperatures in the low 30s Celsius; during dry spells, maximum temperatures often exceed 40 °C (104 °F) in May and June. Winter lasts for roughly two-and-a-half months, with seasonal lows dipping to 9–11 °C (48–52 °F) in December and January. May is the hottest month, with daily temperatures ranging from 27–37 °C (81–99 °F); January, the coldest month, has temperatures varying from 12–23 °C (54–73 °F). The highest recorded temperature is 43.9 °C (111.0 °F), and the lowest is 5 °C (41 °F). The winter is mild and very comfortable weather pertains over the city throughout this season. Often, in April–June, the city is struck by heavy rains or dusty squalls that are followed by thunderstorms or hailstorms, bringing cooling relief from the prevailing humidity.
Bengali, the official state language, is the dominant language in Kolkata. English is also used, particularly by the white-collar workforce. Hindi and Urdu are spoken by a sizeable minority.
Kolkata is reasonably safe, and in general the people are more friendly and helpful than in many of India’s other large cities. One noted problem is the drug dealers around Sudder Street. However, as the dealers obviously do not want to draw undue attention to their activity, they are generally not persistent and rarely a threat.
As of 2011, the health care system in Kolkata consists of 48 government hospitals, mostly under the Department of Health & Family Welfare, Government of West Bengal, and 366 private medical establishments; these establishments provide the city with 27,687 hospital beds. For every 10,000 people in the city, there are 61.7 hospital beds, which is higher than the national average of 9 hospital beds per 10,000. Ten medical and dental colleges are located in the Kolkata metropolitan area which act as tertiary referral hospitals in the state. Calcutta Medical College, founded in 1835, was the first institution in Asia to teach modern medicine. These facilities are inadequate to meet the healthcare needs of the city. More than 78% in Kolkata prefer the private medical sector over the public medical sector, due to the poor quality of care, the lack of a nearby facility, and excessive waiting times at government facilities.
About 18% of the men and 30%of the women in Kolkata are obese—the majority of them belonging to the non-poor strata of society. In 2005, Kolkata had the highest percentage (55%) among the surveyed cities of anaemic woman, while 20% of the men in Kolkata were anaemic. Diseases like diabetes, asthma, goitre and other thyroid disorders were found in large numbers of people. Tropical diseases like malaria, dengue and chikungunya are prevalent in Kolkata, though their incidence is decreasing. Kolkata is one of the districts in India with a high number of people with AIDS; it has been designated a district prone to high risk.
Because of higher air pollution, the life expectancy of a person born in the city in 2014, is four years fewer than in the suburbs.
Kolkata just wouldn’t look the same without the plethora of yellow ambassador taxis that ply on its roads. They’re easily available and relatively cheap, and will usually use their meters, especially outside tourist locations. Fare is 25rs for first two km, and 12rs/km afterwards as of 2014. Some meters are, however, outdated. As of 2015, most taxi drivers refuse using the meter when serving tourists. Be prepare to bargain.
Metro Railway, Kolkata was the first underground rail in India also to become first underwater rapid transit system in india which will connect howrah & kolkata under a tunnel in Ganges(River), yet it still has only a single route connecting the north and south of the city, from Dumdum to Garia. It is the cleanest, most reliable, least crowded and most efficient of all the transportation Kolkata has to offer. Trains run every 10 minutes or 5 minutes and at Rs 5-20 it’s very economical. A new route from East- West Kolkata is under construction.
Calcutta Tramways is the only tram service in all of India, and the oldest surviving electric tram network of Asia. Though decommissioned in some part of the city, electric trams are still one of the means of traveling between places within the city. They move slow on the laid tracks in traffic jammed streets, but they are environment friendly (no emission). Check their site for routes and schedules. Trams are a great way to observe the old northern and central parts of Kolkata because of their pace. Apart from this, there are Heritage Tram Tours conducted by the West Bengal Tourism Department which is a great way to understand the city’s past.
The electrified suburban rail network of the SER and the ER is extensive and includes the Circular Rail.
The city has an extensive bus network, and this is the cheapest, though not always the most comfortable means of transport. Among the buses that ply the city streets, the deluxe buses run by CSTC (Calcutta State Transport Corporation), CTC (Calcutta Tramways Company) and WBSTC (West Bengal Surface Transport Corporation) are probably the better option. There are lot of private buses plying on the streets of Kolkata. Apart from the buses of standard length, there are mini buses also on the streets.
Shared auto-rickshaws are available from different points. They travel in fixed routes and the fare is fixed. They are supposed to take four persons, three in the back seat and one sharing the driver’s seat!