Writers Buildings in British era
Howrah Bridge - old
Old Court House Street
Calcutta High Court
Great Eastern Hotel
Standard Chartered Bank
The Statesman Office
1690 August, Job Charnok, an agent of East India Company
(established 1600) settles in Calcutta.
1698 East India Co. bought three villages (Sutanuti,
Kolkata, Gobindapur ) from local landlord Sabarna Chowdhury.
1699 East India Company started developing Calcutta as a
1715 British people completed building the Old Fort.
1717 The Mughal emperor Farrukh-siyar granted the East
India Company freedom of trade in return for a yearly payment of 3,000
1727 As per the order of King George I , a civil court was
set up. The city corporation was established and Hallwell became the first
mayor of the city.
1756 Siraj-ud-daulla attacks Calcutta and conquered. He
changed the name of the city to Alinagar.
1757 23rd June, British people ( under the leadership of
Clive) defeated Siraj-id-daulla at Plassey. Calcutta was
subsequently recaptured the.
1757 British first printed currency bill in Calcutta mint.
1765 Clive took Bengal, Bihar and Orissa from Badsha Alam
II ( Delhi) with an agreement of paying excises.
1772 Calcutta became the capital of British India when the
first governor-general, Warren Hastings, transferred all important offices
to the city from Murshidabad.
1780 James Hicky established a printing press and published
first news paper, "The Bengal Gazzette".
1784 The first official news paper , "The Calcutta
Gazzette", was published.
1784 Sir William Jones took initiative and established The
1801 Fort William College was established.
1804 The Governor House ( presently Raj Bhawan ) was
1818 First Bengali Magazine, "Digdarshan",
was published from Sreerampur, with the help of David Hare.
1817 The Hindu College ( presently Presidency College )
was established with efforts of Rammohan Roy, David Hare and Radhakanta
Dev. Initially started with 20 students.
1829 Rammohan Roy was successful in making 'satidaho'
(a Hindu practice) banned by British General Bentinck.
1854 First Railways in India ( from Calcutta to Hooghly ).
1857 The University of Calcutta was established.
1873 First Tram car ( horse drawn ) in Calcutta.
1875 "The Statesman", leading English Daily
1875 The Indian Museum was built.
1883 Surendra Nath Banerjee called for a National
convention ( which led to the forming of Indian National Congress in 1885 at
1888 Indian Football Association established.
1896 First motor car appeared on city's street.
1902 First Electric tram car from Esplanade to Kidderepore.
1905 Lord Curzon, viceroy of India, tried to partition
Bengal. There was a strong protest. And finally it was withdrawn.
1911 British moved the capital of India from Calcutta to
1913 Rabindranath Tagore, the great philosopher, poet and
writer received Nobel Prize in literature.
1921 King Edward VIII inaugurated the Victoria Memorial
1924 Chittaranjan Das, was elected as the first Indian
mayor of the city of Calcutta.
1929 Agnes Gonxha Bejaxhiu (Mother Teresa), came to
Calcutta to join Bengal Loreto mission.
1941 Tagore died.
1946 Communal riot killed thousands of people in and
around the city.
1947 India gained independence. Bengal was partitioned,
Calcutta became the capital city of the state of West Bengal in India. Dr.
Prafulla Chandra Ghosh became the first Chief Minister of West Bengal,
followed by Dr. Bidhan Chandra Roy. Calcutta and surrounding places were
flooded with people from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) as a result of the
1977 Left Front led by CPI(M) Party won the state election
and came into the power of the state Government. It is continuing in power
for a record stretch of time.
1979 Mother Teresa was
awarded Nobel Peace Prize.
1984 Metro Railway, the first underground railway in India,
started from Tollygunge to Esplanade.
1989 Late Satyajit Ray, eminent film director received Legion d'Honour,
the highest civilian award of France from President F. Mitterrand in Calcutta.
1992 Satyajit Ray received prestigious Oscar award for
"Life Time Achievement" and "Bharat Ratna".
He died in the same year.
1997 Mother Teresa died in Calcutta.
1998 Amartya Sen (grew up in Shantiniketan and studied at
Calcutta) received Nobel Prize in Ecomonics
2001 Calcutta was officially renamed as 'Kolkata'.
Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel laureate poet,
writer, philosopher was the ambassador of Indian culture to the rest
of the world. He is probably the most prominent figure in the
cultural world of Indian subcontinent and the first Asian to be
awarded with Nobel prize. Even though he is mainly known as a poet,
his multifaceted talent showered upon different branches of art,
such as, novels, short stories, dramas, articles, essays, painting
etc. And his songs, popularly known as Rabindrasangeet, have
an eternal appeal and is permanently placed in the heart of the
Bengalis. He was a social reformer, patriot and above all, a great
humanitarian and philosopher. India and Bangladesh - the national
anthems of these two countries are his composition.
Tagore was born on Tuesday, 7th May 1861 in a
wealthy family in Calcutta at 6, Dwarakanath Thakur
Lane, Calcutta. He was son of Debenadranath and Sarada
Devi and the grand son of Dwarakanath Tagore, a rich landlord and
social reformer. He could not cope with the conventional system of education and started study
home under several teachers. He
translated a part of Shakespare's Macbeth into Bengali verse which was later published in
Bharati magazine. His first book of poems, Kabi Kahini (
tale of a poet ) was published in 1878. In the same year, he sailed
to England with his brother Satyandranath. He got admitted into the
University College in England and started studying under Prof Henry
Morley. Retuned to India in 1880.Got married to Bhabatarini Devi in 1883 at the age
of 22. Later her name was changed to Mrinalini Devi. By this
time he had already been established as a leading writer of Bengali literature.
In 1890 Tagore
attended session of Indian National Congress and on the opening day sang
Vandemataram composed by Bankim Chandra Chattapadhayay, the
exponent of novel in Bengali literature. In 1901 he took
the editorial charge of the magazine Bangadarshan. Got
involved with freedom fighting movement. Established Bolpur
Bramhacharyaashram at Shantiniketan, a school in the pattern of
old Indian Ashrama. He strongly protested Lord Curzon's decision to divide
Bengal on the basis of religion. Wrote a number of national songs
and attended protest meetings. He introduced the Rakhibandhan
ceremony , symbolizing the underlying unity in undivided Bengal. In 1909 started
writing Gitanjali at Silaidaha. Composed
Janaganamana in 1911 which later became the national anthem
In 1912 went to Europe for the second time. On
his journey to London he translated into English some of his poems/songs from
Gitanjali. He met William Rothenstein, a noted British
painter, in London. Earlier he was introduced to Rothenstein in
Calcutta at a gathering at Abanindranath Tagore's house
before. Rothenstien was impressed by the poems, made copies and gave
to Yeats and other English poets. He arranged a reading in his house
where Yeats read Tagore's poems in front of a distinguished audience
comprising of Ezra Pound, May Sinclair, Ernest Rhys etc. Tagore
sailed for America ( for the first time ) from England. Reached New
York, came to Urbana, Illinois, gave a lecture and went to Chicago.
In the mean time Gitanjali ( song
offerings ) containing 103 translated poems of Tagore was published
in London. Yeats wrote
the introduction for this book and Rothenstein did a pencil sketch
for the cover page. The book created a sensation in the English literary
world. Tagore delivered lectures in
Rochester, Boston, Harvard University. Ezra Pound's "Poetry"
Magazine published from Chicago had the honor of publishing the first
English poem of Tagore. His six Gitanjali poems appeared in
Poetry in December, 1912 issue. The poet returned to
Calcutta. 13th November, 1913, Indians came to know that the
Nobel prize for literature had been awarded to Tagore for
Gitanjali. On 26th Decemeber, University of Calcutta
conferred on him the honorary degree of "D.Litt.". Received
Knighthood in 1915.
Proceeded to Japan in 1916. On his way
gave speeches at Rangoon, Singapore, Hongkong. In September, 1916 got
invitation from different institutions in USA and reached Seattle (
Washington). Lectured at Portland, San Fransisco, Los Angeles, Santa
Barbara, Salt Lake City, Chicago, Iowa, Milwakee, Detroit,
Cleveland, Philadelphia, Boston. At Columbia Theatre, New York read
translation from his novel Raja. Returned to Calcutta in
1917. In 1919,
the poet started a tour to South India. Delivered lectures on
different topics at Bangalore, Mysroe, Ooty, Coimbatore, Palghat,
Salem, Trichy, Sirangapatnam, Kumbakonam, Tanjore and Madras. At
Madras spoke as Chancellor of National University, founded by Annie
Besant and stayed as a guest of Mr. Besant at Adyar. In 1919, he
wrote a historic letter to Lord Chelmsford repudiating his
Knighthood in protest against the massacre at Jalianwalabag, Punjab. In
1920 he went to Gandhiji's Sabarmati Ashram and visited Ahmedabad,
Surat and Bombay. Call came from Europe again in 1920. Delivered lectures at New York, Princeton,
Chicago and came back to Europe. His effort to raise fund for
Viswabharati was not very fruitful in America, mostly because he was
seen as an anti-British and pro-German. He continued talks at Geneva,
Zurich, Humburg, Copenhaegen, Stockholm, Berlin, Frankfurt, Vienna,
Prague and in other cities.
In 1921, established
Viswabharati University. He gave all his money from Nobel Prize and
royalty money from his books to this University. Went to Bombay and
from there to Poona. Visited and lectured at Mysore,
Bangalore,Coimbatore, Trivandam, Cochin and Colombo. Got
invitation from China and visited Sanghai, Peiking. Visited Japan
again in this tour. Went to South America. Met Argentine poet Madam
Victoria Ocampo at Buenos Ayres. The poet gave her a name ,
Vijaya and wrote Purabi - a collection of poems dedicated
to her. On the return journey visited Italy and lectured in Milan,
Venice, Florence. Mahatma Gandhi visited Santiniketan on the poet's
birthday. In 1926 visited Dacca, Moimonsingha, Comilla. Visited
Europe again and this time went to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Czechoslovakia, Huungary, Bulgaria, Rumania, Greece and Egypt. In
1927 went to Malayasia, Java, Thailand. In 1929 Canada. In 1930
Russia. In 1932 Iran, Iraq. And in 1934 to SriLanka.
1940 Oxford University arranged a special ceremony in Santiniketan
to honor the poet with Doctorate Of Literature. Tagore passed away
on 7th August, 1941.
Sad demise of his beloved ones came almost in a procession but with the placidity
of a yogi he tolerated the shock and it never could stop both his
creative and constructive activities. In all his literary output he
searched after the eternal values of life: human, aesthetic and deeply
spiritual; his songs specially are endowed with all the different shades
and forms of love which often transcends to the love for God and also
God's love for man.
Swami Vivekananda was
born Narendranath Dutta, son of a well-known lawyer in Calcutta, Biswanath
Dutta, and a very intelligent and pious lady, Bhuvaneswari Devi, in the
year 1863. Even in his very childhood Narendranath developed the power of
independent thinking and would say: Point out where I'm wrong, but why
should you object to my independent thinking? He was a natural leader. He
was much sought after by the people because of his various
Narendranath passed Entrance Examination from the Metropolitan Institute
and F.A. and B.A. Examinations from the General Assembly's Institution
(now Scottish Church College). Hastie, Principal of the College, was
highly impressed by Naren's philosophical insight. It was from Hastie that
he first heard of Sri Ramakrishna.
As a student of Philosophy, the quest for God burned in his mind. Is there a God ? If there
is a God, what is He like ? What is man's relation with Him ? Did He create this world which
is so full of
anomalies ? A relation of his used to advise him to visit Ramakrishna at
Dakshineswar, who, he said, would be able to remove all his doubts about
religion.As the days passed, Naren began to grow restless about the
various riddles that religion presented to him. He particularly wanted to
meet a person who could talk about God with the authority of personal
experience. Finally, he went to Ramakrishna one day and asked him
straightway if he had seen God. Sri Ramakrishna said he had, and if Naren so wished,
he could even show him the same. He began to watch him from close quarters
and after a long time he was left in no doubt that Ramakrishna was an
extraordinary man. Naren loved and admired Ramakrishna but never
surrendered his independence of judgment. Interestingly, Ramakrishna
himself did not demand it of him, or of any other of his disciples.
Nevertheless, Naren gradually came to accept Ramakrishna as his master.
Ramakrishna suffered from cancer and passed away in 1886. During his
illness, a group of select young men had gathered round him and began to
nurse him while receiving spiritual guidance from him. Naren was the
leader of this group. Ramakrishna wanted that they would take to monastic
life and had symbolically given them 'Gerua'. They accordingly founded
a monastery at Baranagar and began to live together, depending only upon
alms. Sometimes they would also wander about like other monks.
Naren also would sometimes go travelling. It was while he was thus
travelling that he assumed the name Vivekananda.
travelled extensively through India, sometimes on foot. He was shocked
to see the conditions of rural India-people, ignorant, superstitious,
half-starved, and victims of caste-tyranny. If this shocked him, the
callousness of the so-called educated upper classes shocked him still
more. He appealed to all to do something for the masses. No one seemed
to pay any heed to him, except the Maharaja of Mysore, the Maharaja of
Khetri and a few young men of Madras. Swami Vivekananda impressed on
everybody the need to mobilize the masses. A few educated men and women
could not solve the problem of the country; the mass power had to be
harnessed to the task. He wanted the masses to be educated. It was a kind of
'non-formal' education which perhaps he visualized. His letters to the
Maharaja of Mysore on the subject show how much he had given to the
subject and how original he was.
Other princes, or
the intelligentsia as a whole, were impressed by Swamiji's personality,
but were much too engrossed with their own affairs to pay any heed to
his appeals. Swamiji could guess the reason why the so-called leaders of
the society ignored him. Who was he ? A mere wandering monk. There were
hundreds of such monks all over the country. Why should they pay any
special attention to him ? By and large, they followed only Western
thinkers and those Indians who followed the West and had had some
recognition in the West by so doing. It pained Swamiji to see such slave
mentality of fellow Indians. Later he would call out the nation and say,
'Feel proud that you are Indians even if you're wearing a loin-cloth'.
He was not opposed to learning from the West, for he knew the Western
people had some great qualities and it was because of those qualities
that they had become so rich and powerful. He wanted India to learn
science and technology from the West and its power to organize and its
practical sense, but, at the same time, retain its high moral and
spiritual idealism. But the selfishness of the so-called educated people
pained him more. They were happy if they could care for themselves and
they gave a damn to what happened to the people. Swamiji wanted to draw
their attention to the miserable condition of the illiterate mass.
As Swamiji arrived in Madras, young people gathered round him drawn by
his bright and inspiring talks. They begged him to go to the USA to
attend the forthcoming Parliament of Religions in Chicago to represent
Hindu relegion and philosophy. They even started raising funds for the purpose. Swamiji was
first reluctant but later felt some good might come of his visit to the
West. That is
exactly what happened. It was a clarion call to the youth's of India. Swamiji made a tremendous impression, first in
the USA and then also in England. The press paid him the highest
tributes as an exponent of India's age-old values; overnight he became a
great national hero in India. This was the starting point of the Indian
renaissance. The freedom fighters during the British rule have drawn inspiration from Swami Vivekananda. 'If you
want to know India, study Vivekananda', was Rabindranath Tagore's advice
to Romain Rolland.
It was Swamiji's hope that India would create a new social order and a
new civilization by combining her best spiritual traditions with the
latest advancements in science and technology. She would be rich both
materially and spiritually. He knew that affluence was not enough, man had to
be human too. Through his realisation of the unique harmony that lies in
all he wanted India to set an example before the whole world.
"Arise, awake and reach the goal" was his message.
To make the whole world know the treasures of Hinduism, Swami
Vivekananda translated chatur-yogas in English. He also
established Ramakrishna Mission to propagate the ideal of Sri
Ramakrishna by performing selfless service to all. Swamiji used to say
'We belong to Cast-less Cast'; neither religion nor any cast or creed,
Swami Vivekananda enthused the youth of India and of the whole world to
realize one's own self.
“By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an
Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the
world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus. ”Small
of stature, rocklike in faith, Mother Teresa of Calcutta was entrusted
with the mission of proclaiming God’s thirsting love for humanity,
especially for the poorest of the poor. “God still loves the world
and He sends you and me to be His love and His compassion to the
poor.” She was a soul filled with the light of Christ, on fire
with love for Him and burning with one desire: “to quench His
thirst for love and for souls.”
This luminous messenger of God’s love was born on 26 August 1910 in
Skopje, a city situated at the crossroads of Balkan history. The
youngest of the children born to Nikola and Drane Bojaxhiu, she was
baptised Gonxha Agnes, received her First Communion at the age of five
and a half and was confirmed in November 1916. From the day of her First
Holy Communion, a love for souls was within her. Her father’s sudden
death when Gonxha was about eight years old left in the family in
financial straits. Drane raised her children firmly and lovingly,
greatly influencing her daughter’s character and vocation. Gonxha’s
religious formation was further assisted by the vibrant Jesuit parish of
the Sacred Heart in which she was much involved.
At the age of eighteen, moved by a desire to become a missionary, Gonxha
left her home in September 1928 to join the Institute of the Blessed
Virgin Mary, known as the Sisters of Loreto, in Ireland. There she
received the name Sister Mary Teresa after St. Thérèse of Lisieux. In
December, she departed for India, arriving in Calcutta on 6 January
1929. After making her First Profession of Vows in May 1931, Sister
Teresa was assigned to the Loreto Entally community in Calcutta and
taught at St. Mary’s School for girls. On 24 May 1937, Sister Teresa
made her Final Profession of Vows, becoming, as she said, the “spouse
of Jesus” for “all eternity.” From that time on she was
called Mother Teresa. She continued teaching at St. Mary’s and in 1944
became the principal of the school. A person of profound prayer and deep
love for her religious sisters and her students, Mother Teresa’s
twenty years in Loreto were filled with profound happiness. Noted for
her charity, unselfishness and courage, her capacity for hard work and a
natural talent for organization, she lived out her consecration to
Jesus, in the midst of her companions, with fidelity and joy.
On 10 September 1946 during the train ride from Calcutta to Darjeeling
for her annual retreat, Mother Teresa received her “inspiration,”
her “call within a call.” On that day, in a way she would
never explain, Jesus’ thirst for love and for souls took hold of her
heart and the desire to satiate His thirst became the driving force of
her life. Over the course of the next weeks and months, by means of
interior locutions and visions, Jesus revealed to her the desire of His
heart for “victims of love” who would “radiate His love
on souls.” “Come be My light,” He begged her. “I
cannot go alone.” He revealed His pain at the neglect of the poor,
His sorrow at their ignorance of Him and His longing for their love. He
asked Mother Teresa to establish a religious community, Missionaries of
Charity, dedicated to the service of the poorest of the poor. Nearly two
years of testing and discernment passed before Mother Teresa received
permission to begin. On August 17, 1948, she dressed for the first time
in a white, blue-bordered sari and passed through the gates of her
beloved Loreto convent to enter the world of the poor.
After a short course with the Medical Mission Sisters in Patna, Mother
Teresa returned to Calcutta and found temporary lodging with the Little
Sisters of the Poor. On 21 December she went for the first time to the
slums. She visited families, washed the sores of some children, cared
for an old man lying sick on the road and nursed a woman dying of hunger
and TB. She started each day in communion with Jesus in the Eucharist
and then went out, rosary in her hand, to find and serve Him in “the
unwanted, the unloved, the uncared for.” After some months, she
was joined, one by one, by her former students.
On 7 October 1950 the new congregation of the Missionaries of Charity
was officially established in the Archdiocese of Calcutta. By the early
1960s, Mother Teresa began to send her Sisters to other parts of India.
The Decree of Praise granted to the Congregation by Pope Paul VI in
February 1965 encouraged her to open a house in Venezuela. It was soon
followed by foundations in Rome and Tanzania and, eventually, on every
continent. Starting in 1980 and continuing through the 1990s, Mother
Teresa opened houses in almost all of the communist countries, including
the former Soviet Union, Albania and Cuba.
In order to respond better to both the physical and spiritual needs of
the poor, Mother Teresa founded the Missionaries of Charity Brothers
in 1963, in 1976 the contemplative branch of the Sisters, in 1979
the Contemplative Brothers, and in 1984 the Missionaries of
Charity Fathers. Yet her inspiration was not limited to those with
religious vocations. She formed the Co-Workers of Mother Teresa
and the Sick and Suffering Co-Workers, people of many faiths and
nationalities with whom she shared her spirit of prayer, simplicity,
sacrifice and her apostolate of humble works of love. This spirit later
inspired the Lay Missionaries of Charity. In answer to the
requests of many priests, in 1981 Mother Teresa also began the Corpus
Christi Movement for Priests as a “little way of holiness”
for those who desire to share in her charism and spirit.
During the years of rapid growth the world began to turn its eyes
towards Mother Teresa and the work she had started. Numerous awards,
beginning with the Indian Padmashri Award in 1962 and notably the Nobel
Peace Prize in 1979, honoured her work, while an increasingly interested
media began to follow her activities. She received both prizes and
attention “for the glory of God and in the name of the poor.”
The whole of Mother Teresa’s life and labour bore witness to the
joy of loving, the greatness and dignity of every human person, the
value of little things done faithfully and with love, and the surpassing
worth of friendship with God. But there was another heroic side of this
great woman that was revealed only after her death. Hidden from all
eyes, hidden even from those closest to her, was her interior life
marked by an experience of a deep, painful and abiding feeling of being
separated from God, even rejected by Him, along with an ever-increasing
longing for His love. She called her inner experience, “the
darkness.” The “painful night” of her soul, which began
around the time she started her work for the poor and continued to the
end of her life, led Mother Teresa to an ever more profound union with
God. Through the darkness she mystically participated in the thirst of
Jesus, in His painful and burning longing for love, and she shared in
the interior desolation of the poor.
During the last years of her life, despite increasingly severe health
problems, Mother Teresa continued to govern her Society and respond to
the needs of the poor and the Church. By 1997, Mother Teresa’s Sisters
numbered nearly 4,000 members and were established in 610 foundations in
123 countries of the world. In March 1997 she blessed her newly-elected
successor as Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity and then
made one more trip abroad. After meeting Pope John Paul II for the last
time, she returned to Calcutta and spent her final weeks receiving
visitors and instructing her Sisters. On 5 September Mother Teresa’s
earthly life came to an end. She was given the honour of a state funeral
by the Government of India and her body was buried in the Mother House
of the Missionaries of Charity. Her tomb quickly became a place of
pilgrimage and prayer for people of all faiths, rich and poor alike.
Mother Teresa left a testament of unshakable faith, invincible hope and
extraordinary charity. Her response to Jesus’ plea, “Come be My
light,” made her a Missionary of Charity, a “mother to the
poor,” a symbol of compassion to the world, and a living witness to
the thirsting love of God.
Less than two years after her death, in view of Mother Teresa’s
widespread reputation of holiness and the favours being reported, Pope
John Paul II permitted the opening of her Cause of Canonization. On 20
December 2002 he approved the decrees of her heroic virtues and