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1932: An aerial view of Calcutta, showing Government House (large white structure to the left), The Post Office (with white dome) and the Esplanade Curzon Gardens in the foreground. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
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A pavement under construction in Calcutta, circa 1880. At the far end is St Andrew’s Church, on the corner of Dalhousie Square. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
The interior of St Peter’s Church, situated within the walls of the British East India Company’s stonghold, Fort William in Kolkata (Calcutta), circa 1850. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
1946: Cobblers working on the pavement in Calcutta. (Photo by Jean & Patrick Turnbull/Fox Photos/Getty Images)
Circa 1950: A steam locomotive on the narrow gauge mountain railway which runs between Darjeeling and Calcutta. (Photo by Richard Harrington/Three Lions/Getty Images)
For some of us, Calcutta isn’t a city. It’s a way of life. The city’s lean, grimy skyscrapers jostle for space with majestic, colonial architecture. Tracks for trams crisscross the rain-washed roads and the pavements are the domain of small-scale businesses flourishing just as well as the swarms of mosquitoes that hover over people’s heads as they take an evening stroll by the lake.
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Circa 1920: Two Indian fakirs in Calcutta demonstrating that they can lift stones weighing 200 pounds with their neck or shoulders. (Photo by L Harlingue/Henry Guttmann/Getty Images)
26th April 1926: Troops in a street in north Calcutta where they are restoring order during unrest between Hindus and Muslims. Riots are believed to have been provoked by playing music outside a mosque when Muslims were assembled at prayer. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
Circa 1955: A labourer in Calcutta swings heavy clubs in order to loosen his muscles as part of his early morning exercises before the working day. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)
Circa 1935: A Jain temple in Calcutta, India. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
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Prince Charles talking to Mother Teresa during his visit to her home for babies and children, Calcutta, December 1980. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
19th August 1959: Dr Bimal Chandra and Arati Saha from Calcutta prepare to conquer the Channel. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
March 1928: Government House, Calcutta. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
April 1926: Police in Calcutta removing burning wood piled up in front of a building after riots between Hindus and Muslims. Missiles thrown from the top of neighbouring buildings litter the streets. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
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1910: A car stops at the Netteri toll-gate on the Calcutta Road. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Kolkata, then Calcutta, was the capital of India’s British empire until 1911 before the capital was relocated to Delhi. The lugubrious Hooghly bear silent testimony to India’s violent struggle for freedom, seeded in this city. This is the city of Rabindranath Tagore, Swami Vivekananda, Subhas Chandra Bose and Satyajit Ray.
1953: Rickshaw boys in the Calcutta streets. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
International traders and Indians jostle for space, bathing, cooking and collecting water, in the port of Calcutta. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
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30th September 1964: People cling to the side and rear of an overcrowded bus as it makes its way through flooding in the main street in Calcutta. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
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Circa 1955: The Temple of Kali on the outskirts of Calcutta. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)
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The Writers’ Building – built between 1776 and 1780 to house junior officers or ‘writers’ of the East India Company was designed by Thomas Lyon. The British aimed at making Calcutta the nerve centre of their growing empire. 24th August is commonly celebrated as Kolkata’s birthday. It is the day when Job Charnok of the English East India Company set foot in Kolkata in 1690. However, in 2003, a historic verdict by the Calcutta High Court declared that the city does not have a birthday or a founder. In spite of the verdict, many continue to celebrate the city’s birthday each year on 24th August. Here are 30 stunning images of the era gone by from the city of Kolkata.
30 Beautiful Black and White Photos of Kolkata That Will Take You Back in Time Happy Birthday, Kolkata!
Circa 1954: A masseur at Calcutta leans forward to put maximum pressure on a customer’s calves. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)
Circa 1867: An Indian station near Calcutta. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
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Circa 1955: A Calcutta artist decorates a statue of Laxmi or Lakshmi, Hindu goddess of prosperity, for the Laxmi Pooja festival. The gypsum figure will be worshipped for two days before being sacrificed to the Hooghly river, in which it dissolves. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)
3rd September 1937: The streets of Calcutta were turned into rivers after rains in the monsoon season were heavier than usual. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
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Circa 1950: Men bathe in the Hooghly River, Calcutta under the shadow of the Howrah bridge. (Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images)
1946: A food queue in Calcutta, after four days of rioting and looting. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)
March 1952: Ceylonese schoolteacher from Malaya P Rajaratnum, science teacher Sen Gupta from Calcutta and assistant cultural attache at the Indonesian Embassy Sukesi Buduardjo enjoy an audience with Compton Mackenzie at a British Broadcasting Corporation studio at Broadcasting House in London. (Photo by Erich Auerbach/Getty Images)
17th March 1928: The Victoria Memorial Hall on the maidan near the racecourse at Calcutta. It was designed by Sir William Emerson in 1903. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
Circa 1955: A young Hindu boy selling goldfish which he acquired in Calcutta’s Chinatown. (Getty Images)
Grand buildings on the banks of the Hooghly River in Calcutta, the capital of West Bengal in India, circa 1930. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
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The Grand Hotel (later the Oberoi Grand) on Chowringhee Avenue, Calcutta, March 1928. The premises of Lyon & Lyon gun and rifle makers are visible beneath. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
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British troops in Calcutta, with rifles at the ready, clearing a street after Hindus and Muslims used firearms against each other. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)