Sunday, 21 December 2014

How Calcutta,once the capital of British empire came into being ?


History of Kolkata
The term ''Kolkata''  is derived from ''Kolikata,'' (a Bengali word)  which is the  name of one of the three Indian villages that existed prior to the arrival of the British in the country. The other two villages being Govindapur and Sutanuti  and the present city of Kolkata is situated exactly where they were located. 

Archaeological  findings at  Chandraketugarh located in the northern section of Kolkata  suggest  that this region has been inhabited for above two millennia. However,  according to official  historical records   the history of this huge city dates back to  1690, during  which time the British East India company had been engaged at Balasore and Hooghly in mercantile activities  for some time with a Firman (royal decree from the then Mogul Emperor Shahjehan (1634) at Delhi. This allowed the British company agents to build a  factory in Kolkata but reside at Pipili,Odisha(Orissa).  Two years later emperor  Shahjahan's  beautiful daughter, while applying scented perfume,  her dress accidentally caught fire and she received severe burns. The emperor was very much concerned about his daughter's  appearance and worried whether she would remain disfigured for the rest of her life, He brought a British surgeon of the East India company from Surat who completely cured her burns and pain and she began to lead a normal life.  Instead of fees the doctor got permission from the emperor to build a factory at Pipili and to bring in the cargo ships through the Hoogly river.  The same British doctor, two years later  on request from the local ruler,  cured the ailment of one of the girls in the local Nawob's family and this act of British doctor helped the company    establish  factories  in Balasore and Hooghly.

After Aurangazeb became the emperor  the company got a special Firman. However, as the Firman had a lot of holes, the British and the Nawob of Bengal were frequently at loggerheads with each other and there were many skirmishes between them. Nawob's forces drove  Charnock and his men  into a forest  where survival was tough. During their stay in the jungle, numerous British workers died for various reasons. This forced the Crown to blockade the Mogul's ships at some places including ships with people on the way to Mecca on pilgrimage. At last  Both sides were back  to the table for discussion.  After a truce with the  Chief of British, Job Charnock, Aurangazeb finally reissued  a special Firman with no flaws. This  allowed the  British company to function in a place called ''Sutanuti.'' on the banks of the Hoogly river, On August 24, 1690 British flag was hoisted on the banks of Hoogly, thus  new chapter had been  added to Indian history which was going to change the political scene of India and also of the world  Now, the British company  had to pay just Rs. 3000.00 annualy - a paltry sum  and  was fully exempted from  trade duty.The Indian traders never enjoyed these privileges.

After the death of Charnock in January, 1692, the British fortified the settlement in 1696; it became a  Presidency City in 1701 and called it  ''Fort William'' after King William III of England, To accommodate rapid growth of population, build new facilities and  extend the settlement,  the company bought  the adjacent villages Kalikata and Govindpur – from landlords (Zamindars).
Calcutta once had huge population of Angelo Indians as inter religious marriage were common prior to 1900.
It is believed that Job Charnock was the founder of Kolkata (Calcutta). Now the Calcutta High Court came up with a different ruling in 2003:
 Kolkata represents an ancient site near the Kali Temple at Kalighat. It had its origin in the Maurya and Gupta dynasties and the township was in existence  long before the Delhi sultanate and the Moguls. Before the British, Portuguese and French had trading centers there, Therefore, Charnock does not take the credit of founding Calcutta. This Indian city later became a  major center  for the Indian freedom struggle and is home to numerous patriots and two Nobel laureates.
Tit bits:
 Charnokite (Hyperthene granite or pink granite): This attractive igneous rock, a variety of granite group has a large portion of Hypersthene, feldspar and quartz.  It was named by geologist T. H. Holland in 1900 after the tombstone of Job Charnock, the founder of Calcutta, in St John's Church in Calcutta, India, which is made of this rock.