Kolkata vs Calcutta: Difference and Comparison

The name of Indian cities and states have unique values and meanings, and it is the name of a state that defines its culture and the people living in the state.


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Kolkata and Calcutta are the two names of the same state, which often creates misunderstanding among the people that it is the name of two different states, but in reality, it is the name of one state.

Although the state is the same, these two names have some difference that makes them unique from one another. Let’s get into the details and find out the real differences between the two.

Key Takeaways

  1. Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta, is the capital city of the Indian state of West Bengal and underwent an official name change in 2001.
  2. Kolkata and Calcutta refer to the same city, with the name change reflecting a move toward using native names for Indian cities.
  3. Kolkata is known for its rich cultural heritage and colonial architecture and as a major center for education, arts, and commerce in India.

Kolkata vs Calcutta

The difference between Kolkata and Calcutta is that in the year 2001, Calcutta legally altered its name to Kolkata, it is the name taken from one of the three human settlements that are claimed to have given rise to the contemporary metropolis of Kolkata. On the other hand, Calcutta was the name given by the British. Kalikata, which is the Bengali name for Calcutta, is an Anglicized version of the Bengali name. Kalikata is believed to be taken from the Bengali phrase Kalikshetra which means “Land of the goddess Kali”.

Kolkata vs Calcutta

Kolkata: Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta, is the capital city of West Bengal. It is one of India’s most populous cities as well as a significant port.

The port city formed as a point of transit juncture from water to land and from stream to ocean on the east shore of the Hugli River.

Calcutta: It was founded in the year 1686 as a consequence of the British Raj’s development objectives.

Job Charnock, the alleged founder of Calcutta, arrived at the hamlet of Sutanuti on August 24, 1686, as an agent of the British East India Company to start a business.

Kalikat, Gobindapur, and Sutanuti were three settlements that served as key commerce centres in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonKolkataCalcutta
Named in the year20011686 
The old nameCalcuttaKolikata
Capital ofWest BengalBritish India until 1911
Popularly known asThe City of JoyCity of Palaces, Jewel of the East
Ruled  byIndian GovernmentBritish Government

What is Kolkata?

Kolkata, often known as the ‘City of Joy,’ has a major role in India’s economy, politics, and art. Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, is among India’s four metropolitan areas and has managed to keep its traditional appeal despite modernization.

Kolkata is known for its radical history, which includes everything from the Indian independence movement to leftist and trade union organizations. Many believe this dynamic city has a unique socio-political history of being India’s cultural hub.

History of Kolkata: The adjacent Chandraketugarh historical monument proves that the area has been occupied for over two centuries. 

On the other hand, the city’s known history began in 1690, when the British East India Company arrived in Bengal to consolidate its commercial enterprise.

Job Charnock, a Company official who gradually resided in Sutanuti after conquering through the Hijli Kingdom, was widely attributed as the city’s originator.

The economy of Kolkata: Kolkata is India’s principal industrial, economic, and financial centre. The Calcutta Stock Exchange is India’s 2nd largest stock market. 

It is also an important industrial and military port and the only international airport in the area. Kolkata was once India’s most important metropolis and capital, saw a steady economic downturn in the years after freedom due to an uncertain government and a growth in left-wing labour unionism.

Many significant manufacturing factories were shuttered or downsized, and firms were transferred from the 1960s until the mid-1990s, resulting in massive capital outflows.

The city’s economy was further devastated by a shortage of finance and resources and a worldwide oversupply in the marketplace for the city’s old sectors (such as jute).

But now the state’s fortunes have improved as a result of the liberalization of the Indian economic sector in the 1990s and the appointment of a new reformer Chief Minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya.


What is Calcutta?

During British rule, Calcutta was known as the City of Palaces and was regarded as superior to all other cities except London. Calcutta was the imperial capital of India. There was a hugely diverse population here.

The majority of the British who arrived in India had their first look at the country there. It was grand, magnificent, and imperial, the epitome of the empire’s magnificence.

It was the only spot in the world where colonial and traditional architecture coexisted in such an odd context.

History of Calcutta: In 1690, Job Charnock arrived on the banks of the Hooghly River and leased three big settlements alongside the river’s east bank viz Sutanuti, Govindapur, and Kolikata and settled it as a British East India Company trading base. The location was deliberately chosen since it is bordered on the west by the Hooghly River, on the north by an inlet, and on the east by salt lakes, approximately two and a half kilometres.

As the Mughal emperor allowed the East India Company the right to do business in India. The British purchased these three settlements from local landowners in exchange for an annual payment of 3,000 rupees.

Economical Growth of Calcutta: The Mughal emperor Farrukh-Siyar allowed the East India Company the liberty of trading in 1717, and this agreement accelerated Calcutta’s expansion. The city attracted a considerable number of Indian traders. 

The British company’s servants conducted private commission commerce under the company’s flag. As British influence spread over the peninsula, the entire northern Indian subcontinent became a backyard for the port of Calcutta.

In 1835, inland customs charges were abolished, resulting in an open market, and the building of railways accelerated the growth of business and industry. The Grand Trunk Road was constructed about this time.

Calcutta’s Indian sector grew into a bustling commercial centre, attracting visitors from all over India and Asia. In the subcontinent, Calcutta grew into the intellectual capital.


Main Differences Between Kolkata and Calcutta

1. Kolkata is the official name of Calcutta.

2. Kolkata is a Bengali name, while Calcutta refers to the British name.

3. Kolkata refers to modern West Bengal, while Calcutta refers to the time of West Bengal when it was under British rule.

4. From a historical perspective, Kolkata does not appear to be as prosperous or influential as it was when it was known as Calcutta.

5. Kolkata is known as the City Of Joy for its spiritual expression of culture, compassion, intrigue, respect, excitement, and, without a doubt, some incredible sweet delicacies. Whereas because of the large number of structures constructed by the British Raj throughout the 19th century, Calcutta is known as the City of Palaces.

Kolkata vs Calcutta – Difference Between Kolkata and Calcutta
  1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1097184X10382883
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0886260508322186

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