Living in KolkataIyna Bort Caruso
Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta, may have lost its position as the one-time political capital of India but it is the unofficial capital of culture.
The densely populated city, located in the state of West Bengal near the Bangladesh border, is the country’s intellectual epicenter with a history steeped in literature, poetry, festivals and adda, the art of lively discussion and debate.
The city is made up of a network of neighborhoods and new suburbs that share a strong sense of community. The business district is located in Central Kolkata, along with glorious heritage structures and museums including the country’s oldest, the Indian Museum, which dates back to 1814. The Victoria Memorial is one of India’s most iconic, a white marble monument to the reign of Queen Victoria who was also proclaimed the Empress of India.
During the British Raj, Kolkata was its showplace as well as its capital from 1772-1911 before the center of power was moved to New Delhi. Kolkata later became a stronghold of the Indian independence movement.
Kolkata is a showcase of Indian architecture and its evolution. The city boasts one of the country’s most diverse mixes including Indo-Islamic, Indo-Saracenic, which combines Islamic, Hindu and Western elements, and Art Deco. Preservationists are spearheading efforts to save traditional Kolkata homes from the wrecking balls. The homes are recognizable by their wide verandas, balconies, open roof terraces and cast-iron railings. Modern towers are rising, many temping buyers with luxury lifestyle amenities such as on-site spas, art and rooftop gardens.
Affluent pockets are emerging throughout many areas of the city, but South Kolkata has the highest concentration of sought-after addresses. Alipore and Ballygunge are two blue-chip neighborhoods in the district with homes that command some of top prices, not only in Kolkata but in all of India.