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The history of Kolkata goes back to the mid-1st millennium BC, according to archaeological and historical evidence. Kolkata had been occupied by the Buddhists from the 6th century AD. By the 11th century, the Gauda kingdom had been established, which consisted of the capital Kolkata and its surrounding areas. By the 17th century, Kolkata was the richest centre of learning in the Indian subcontinent. It became the epicentre of the Bengal Renaissance. The early 19th-century British East India Company became the foremost commercial power of the time and founded the Kolkata Port in the early 1830s.



There was a rapid increase in the city's population following the Indian Rebellion of 1857. This marked the start of Bengal's golden age, as it was then that Kolkata gained prominence as a commercial, educational and cultural hub, and became one of the largest and most cosmopolitan cities in Asia. It had become a major trading centre under the East India Company, becoming the chief port on the eastern seaboard of India. By the 1850s, it was the world's third largest city, after London and Paris. In the 1850s, Kolkata began to expand to the north, the main development being Garia, in the area of Esplanade. After the decline of the British Empire, Kolkata entered a prolonged economic decline; this has been attributed to a downturn in international trade, a loss of British influence in Bengal, and the influx of a large number of refugees from East Pakistan. The airport, now known as Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport, now handles nearly 17 million passengers every year.


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