The History Behind The Name - 'CALCUTTA'

ভাষা পরিবর্তন করুন

Calcutta was the official name of Kolkata until the year 2001. After that, the government changed the name officially. But do you know the origin of the word, ‘CALCUTTA‘? 

There are several theories about the origin of ‘Calcutta‘.

Theory Number 1:

In the Ain-i-Akbari, the rent-roll of the sixteenth-century Mughal emperor, Akbar, and in Manasa Mangal, an anthology by the Bengali poet Bipradas Pipilai, it is mentioned that the early name of this city was ‘Kolikata‘ (কলিকাটা), from which Kolkata/Calcutta may have been derived.

Manasa Devi
Goddess Manasa
Ain-i-akbari or Akbarnama

Theory Number 2:

There is a lot of disputation about how this city got its name. There are different opinions on the issue. The most popular and probably one of the main reasons is its connection with the Hindu Goddess Kali. In Sanskrit, Kalikshetra (कलिक्षेत्र) means ‘the area of Kali‘. This theory is the most possible one as in the rural Bengali pronunciation the ‘kh‘ consonant is replaced by ‘k‘ and the ‘tro‘ joined consonant is replaced by ‘to‘, resulting in Kalikhetro being Kaliketo which is very close to Kolikata.

Kalikhetro -> kh = k; e= e; tro = to -> keto -> Kaliketo.

Goddess Kali
Goddess Kali

Theory Number 3:

An interesting, but very possibly casually fabricated, anecdote exists in the naming of Calcutta. According to it, a British merchant was traveling through the village, when he came upon a peasant stacking hay into the barn. Not knowing where he was, the merchant asked the peasant about that place. The peasant, unfortunately, did not understand English, and he guessed that the sahib must be inquiring about the date the crop was harvested. In his own language, he replied kal kata hoyechilo” which in the English language means “harvested yesterday” (kal – yesterday, kata – cut, which, when added with hoyechilo, also means cut, but here it means harvested). The merchant left the place, happy to know the name of the place. Following the English copy, “Kal Kata” became “Calcutta“.

There are more or less plausible theories abound, like: 

  1. The name was derived from the location of the original settlement beside a khal (which means canal in English).
  2. According to folk etymology, Britishers, when they visited the city, saw the goddess with a skull garland. This reminded them of the place Golgotha, which later became Kolkotha.
  3. According to another theory, the place was known for the manufacture of shell-lime. And the name was derived from lime (kali) and burnt shell (kata).
  4. The name may have its origin in the words khal meaning “canal”, followed by kata, which may mean “dug”.
  5. The name may have been derived from the Bengali term kilkila (“flat area”).
  6. Another theory is that the name derives from Kalighat.
  7. According to another theory, the area specialised in the production of quicklime or koli chun and coir or kata; hence, it was called Kolikata.

The area in which the city is now situated was originally inhabited by the people of three villages – Kalikata, Sutanuti, and Gobindpur. However, the boundaries of the three villages gradually became narrower, and before the Battle of Palashi the city could be divided into four separate sub-regions – European Calcutta (Dihi Kolkata), residential villages with some sacred spots (Gobindpur), a traditional Indian market (Bazar Kalikata Or Burbazar) and a river mart (Sutanthi) focusing on the textile business. After the Battle of Plassey in 1757, the British began rebuilding the city with the idea of ​​building it as the capital of their empire.

Map of Kolkata in 1690

In spite of the high court ruling, the growth of the present city can be dated from 1690, when Job Charnock, an agent of the English East India Company chose the place for a trade settlement. In 1698, the East India Company bought three villages (Sutanuti, Kalikata, and Gobindapur) from a local landlord family of Sabarna Roy Choudhury. The next year, the company began developing the city as a Presidency City. In 1727, as per the order of King George I, a civil court was set up in the city. The Calcutta Municipal corporation (recently renamed as Kolkata Municipal Corporation) was formed and the city had its first mayor. 


Got information and images from Wikipedia.

An Aftersearch India Documentation.

Did you know these before? Comment below, and if you want amazing unknown facts, let us know via comment.

Share this post with your loved ones!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on whatsapp
Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Related Posts

Most Recent Posts