Kolkata – from being the colonial capital of British Raj to becoming ‘The City Of Joy’, the city had gone through a lot of changes from its pre-independence to the post-independence era.

But then again, the city’s rebirth to re-establish itself on the world map with a new name and a new tag, Biswa Bangla, has been even more exemplary.

Biswa Bangla- Where the world meets Bengal.

With two decades of the 21st century ending soon, it’s time this north Kolkata boy points out the changes his city has gone through in the last two decades.  

1. Calcutta To Kolkata

As if to foreshadow the changes this city will oversee in the 21st century- on its first day, i.e. 1st January 2001, the city got renamed from Calcutta to Kolkata. Thus began the journey of an openness-loving, loiterer-friendly Bengali-European styled city with an added flavour of warmth and love.

Iconic locations of Kolkata

2. Red To Green

Change or as we call it ‘poriborton’ is what Kolkata has been about in these last two decades, especially in the political scenario. From red to green, Left government to Trinamul Government, Kaste-haturi to Jora-phool, Bhattacharjee to Banerjee – Kolkata has seen it all. 

Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) was the Chief Minister of West Bengal from 2000 to 2011

2000 started off with the Left party rule over Bengal. In 2011 Assembly Elections, Mamata Banerjee was elected as the Chief Minister of West Bengal, ending the record-breaking term of 34 years of rule of the communist party.

Mamata Banerjee current Chief Minister of West Bengal since 2011.

3. Bandhs To Hok Kolorob

Kolkata has always been a place of emotion, love, and protest. Be it the fight for independence, or the Naxalite movement post-independence, Kolkata has been the heart of all revolutionary movements. 

The first decade of the century saw a strike or ‘bandh’ prone Bengal
Political rally or ‘michil’ is quite common in Bengal’s political hub – Kolkata.

While Kolkata’s first decade of the 2000s was riddled with bandhs, the second saw an uproar that changed the meaning of student protest in every way.

Protesting against the laxity in the investigation of a campus molestation incident followed by police brutality, Kolkata saw a 30,000-student-strong peaceful student rally in September 2014. Their demands were met with the change in university administration. 

Students protesting against Jadavpur University campus violence in September 2014
The Student’s rally against the Vice-Chancellor of Jadavpur University demanding his resignation.

The four-month-long protest saw a large work of posters, graffiti, poems, songs, slogans, street plays and performances with chants of ‘Hok Kolorob’, which meant ‘let there be noise’.

#hokkolorob – India’s first successful Internet activism and hashtag activism by the students

Also Read: DU Can Take Some Lessons From This Kolkata University On How To Be Progressive


4. Double-Decker Bus To AC Volvo

The declining structure of Kolkata’s iconic red Double-Decker CTC bus met its end in the early years of the 21st century. What followed was the introduction of Volvo buses and AC buses that took the icon’s place on the road.

Kolkata’s iconic red Double-Decker CTC bus

5. Black And Yellow Taxi To Yellow Cabs

Taxi has always been the heart of the transport system of Kolkata.

The black and yellow meter taxi was common in the streets of Kolkata in the 21st century’s first decade

While in the first decade it started off with the colours and black and yellow, it smoothly transitioned to a bright yellow in the next. Oh, the city got introduced to AC cabs as well!

The city upgraded itself with the introduction of yellow cabs and A.C. Taxi

6. Hand-Pulled Rickshaw To Toto And CNG Auto

Though a bit barbaric, hand-pulled rickshaw has always been an iconic feature in Kolkata roads.

Hand-pulled rickshaw, a rare sight in the streets of Kolkata these days.

With changing times, hand-pulled rickshaws are a rare sight these days with CNG auto and totos taking its place as a faster mode of transport.

Kolkata’s eco-friendly CNG auto in front of a typical north Kolkata house.

7. Tram- A Daily Commute To A Museum

What once played an integral role in an office-going Bengali’s everyday life, has almost come to its struggling end days.

Old Tram rakes that are slowly being replaced with new ones to keep the tramways alive.

Hoping to keep its heritage alive, the government has replaced the old rakes with more comfortable newer trams. Yet, what was once the old generation’s everyday transport is now the present generation’s joyride or a visit to the museum.

New Tram coaches being introduced in the city of Kolkata.

8. Bangaliana To London’s Big Ben

With the change in government, Kolkata went through a city-wide change in terms of beautification to be more ‘London like’. What once held the nostalgia, memories, and warmth of an old city, got reshaped with riverfront beautification and installation of London’s Big Ben’s replica.

London’s Big Ben’s replica in Lake Town, Kolkata.

Sadly, what didn’t change is the condition of the roads when it rains heavily. Or perhaps it is the city deciding to be more ‘Venice like’ instead. Cheeky!

Waterlogged streets of Kolkata, a common sight during the rainy season.

The city has gone through its highs and its lows but has preferred to stay together, always. Home to people from diverse communities, religions, and regions- the City of Joy is rich in culture, heritage, and history.

A typical north Kolkata street with trams and yellow taxi plying through the city

Known for being the city of paradoxes, even at changing times, its people prefer to live in the nostalgic past of warmth, love, and care. And even after its million changes, like before, the city still makes its guests fall in love.

“Dil Ka Bazaar Hai, Thoda Bizzar Hai,
Kolkata Khwaishon Armaano Ka Achaar Hai,
Jitne Bhi Door Jaao, Dil Se Na Far Hai,
Kolkata Dekho Toh Baanki Duniya Bekaar Hai,
Strong Hai Powerful Hai Phir Bhi Laachar Hai!
Bilkul Naya Hai Phir Bhi Beete Kal Mein Giraftaar Hai.
Kolkata, You Sexy!”

Aami Shotti Bolchi, Kahaani


Image Credits: Google Images, Instagram.

Sources: Purono Kolkata, The GuardianYouTube.

Find The Blogger: @AyushArcher05


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