Nestled on the banks of Hooghly river, Kolkata is the capital of West Bengal.

It was formerly known as Calcutta and derives its name from Kalikata, one of the three villages that comprised the area before the arrival of the British. The city was ruled by the Nawab of Bengal Siraj-Ud-Daulah. In the early eighteenth century, The East India Company began fortifying the troops in the area. Unhappy with this development, the Nawab declared war on them in 1757. The British defeated the Nawab and captured the city. In 1772, Calcutta was named the capital of British India.

By the 1850s, the city underwent rapid industrial growth and saw huge investments in infrastructure projects like railroads and telegraph. Then came the period of socialcultural reform, also known as the Bengal Renaissance. Gradually Calcutta became a centre of the Indian independence movement, especially revolutionary organisations. In 1905, Bengal was partitioned by the British along communal lines. This led to widespread public agitation and the boycott of British goods. Finally, in 1911, the British moved the capital to New Delhi.

Present day Kolkata has a population exceeding 15 million, and is the third most populous metropolitan area in India. It is the business, commercial and financial hub of eastern India. A unique feature of Kolkata’s economy is that the unorganised sector accounts for more than 40% of the labor force. In fact, roadside hawkers generated business worth Rs. 8,772 crore in 2005! Kolkata is home to many industrial units which manufacture products ranging from electronics to jute. Many national and international giants have their headquarters in Kolkata including ITC Limited, Exide Industries, Hindustan Motors, Britannia Industries, Bata India, Birla Corporation, Coal India Limited and many more.

Kolkata is also known for its literary and artistic heritage. It is home to many famous writers, artists, musicians, dancers and theatre personalities. On the cultural front, Durga Puja is the biggest festival in Kolkata. It usually takes place in the month of October, and is celebrated on a grand scale. The city comes alive during this time and a trip to the city during this time is highly recommended. Some of the other important cultural festivals are Kolkata Book Fair, Dover Lane music festival, Kolkata Film Festival and National Theatre Festival. Bengali is the primary language and English is widely spoken. While here, don’t forget to sample Kolkata’s legendary cuisine especially Machher jhol (fish curry) and mishti dohi (sweet yoghurt)!

Kolkata has a tropical wet-and-dry climate. Summers are hot and humid with temperatures in the low 30's. The city receives abundant rainfall during the monsoon. Winters are pleasant with the temperatures ranging between 9 °C – 11 °C. December and January are the best months to visit the city.

Victoria Memorial: Built in the early 20th century in memory of Queen Victoria, this is the biggest landmark of Kolkata. This monument is an architectural wonder with its stately bronze statue of the queen, the brass canons, wrought iron street lamps, manicured lawns, lush gardens and winding pathways. The 'Fountain of Joy' facing the memorial building adds to its charms.

Eden Gardens: Created in 1840 and named after the sister of Lord Auckland, this is a popular tourist spot. The lush green gardens dotted with beautiful trees and shrubs and a large artificial lake make for a wonderful sight. Alongside the gardens, is the world famous Eden Gardens cricket stadium. One of the largest in Asia, it has a seating capacity of more than one lakh spectators.

Indian Museum: Established in 1878, this is one of the largest museums in the country and one of the best in Asia. It has six sections - Art, Archaeology, Anthropology, Geology, Zoology and Industry (economic botany).You will find some of the greatest archaeological treasures in the world here: from the Egyptian mummy to the skeleton of a whale; a collection of meteorites to the fossil collection of prehistoric animals. A must-see for art and history buffs! 

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Mountain Roads and Kleptomaniac Monkeys: The Journey to India

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The journey to mainland India's most southern point took us through the Western Ghats, to waterfalls, thieving monkeys, more sacred elephants and kidnapped trophies. Our teams had to navigate mountain roads and potholes to see the sun set over Cape Comorin where the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal all meet on our pen...
7 Jan, 2015 by admin 
Setting Fire to Saris and Other Rickshaw Challenge Antics

Setting Fire to Saris and Other Rickshaw Challenge Antics

A relaxed day on the road, but a heated storm in the kitchen. As our participants explore an idyllic tropical fruit plantation, little did they know that they have saris, fire and hot tempers to contend with. Day 7, Tuticorin – Tirunelveli With only 97km to tackle on the road today, our teams thought they were getting ...
5 Jan, 2015 by admin 
From Sacred Elephants to Hidden Beaches: The Rickshaw Challenge Does Rural India

From Sacred Elephants to Hidden Beaches: The Rickshaw Challenge Does Rural India

Coconuts, potholes and hidden lagoons, today's Rickshaw Challenge activities took our participants off the beaten track into the heart of rural India, to shore temples and sacred elephants, so far off the tourist route that you become the attraction. Day 6, Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu Based for two nights in the fishing city of ...
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Bright Temples, Mechanic Kangaroos and More Rick

Bright Temples, Mechanic Kangaroos and More Rick'Rolls: Happy New Year from the Rickshaw Challenge

Recovering from a hectic New Years party, our teams spent most of the day in bed, while the braver members of the Rickshaw Challenge Classic Run 2015 explored Madurai's colourful temple. After taking it easy on our rest day, the convoy of rickshaws headed down to the fishing town of Tuticorin on the coast. Mostly an uneventful d...
3 Jan, 2015 by admin 
A Living Chola Temple and a Smashed Up Rickshaw: Just Another Day on the Rickshaw Challenge

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On the last day of 2014, we leave Thanjavur for Madurai, exploring the epic Living Chola Temple of Brihadishwara before visiting a village tile factory and contenting with shoe stealing monkeys at Tirumayam Fort. While everyone made it to the New Year unscathed, one of our rickshaws didn’t. Day 3, Thanjavur to Madurai Th...
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Temples, goats and potholes - Ride along from Pondicherry to Thanjavur

Leaving the cyclone behind, day 2 on the Rickshaw Challenge took us away from the coast into deep Tamil Nadu, into the mysical world of ancient temples, goats that eat everything, friendly locals, terrible roads and of course, more breakdowns.  Day 2, Pondicherry to Thanjavur  After a night of partying, most of our tea...
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Rickshaw Challenge Classic Run Tackles a Cyclone, Breakdowns and Local Toilets

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Days before the Rickshaw Challenge sees in its 9th year, the Classic Run 2015 kicks off from Chennai with the tail end of a cyclone for companion. As our participants drive a rickshaw for the first time, they have to contend with Chennai's crazy streets, heavy rains, breakdowns, among all the other obstacles that make the Ricksh...
30 Dec, 2014 by admin  0

India's Transport Museum

Vintage automobiles, bullock carts, motorcycles, auto-rickshaws and much more, are some of the attractions at the 'heritage transport museum' in Delhi, India. "The museum showcases the evolution of transportation in India and sets a benchmark in interpretation, exhibition and in communication. As the first private museum of...
23 Dec, 2014 by admin  0
The Madness Project

The Madness Project

Two people, two cycles, 30 days, and 2,500 km from Kolkata to Mumbai. "A journey of two friends on bicycles, from the East coast of India to the West, Kolkata to Mumbai. Travelling in the peak months of summer, through Central India with temperatures peaking at 50 degrees centigrade, the journey was completed in 32 days. Th...
22 Dec, 2014 by admin  0
My Kochi by Brandon Li

My Kochi by Brandon Li

Two great videos capturing Kochi scenes, by Brandon Li "Kochi is a city in the state of Kerala, India. Their main landmark is these gigantic fishing nets, which originated in China and were brought to India by Portugese settlers. The fishing nets' complex yet seamless operation fascinated me; it seems like the practice has re...
16 Dec, 2014 by admin  0
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