Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) is the capital of West Bengal and the second largest city in India (after Mumbai). If Bangalore is the Seattle of India, then Kolkata is the sub-contintent's London. It is an 'in your face' city that shocks and charms the unsuspecting visitor. Abject poverty mixes inexplicably with crumbling British Raj-era gems, sprawling gardens and historical colleges. Long known as the cultural capital of India, Kolkata continues to spawn generations of poets, writers, film producers and Nobel Prize winners. If your trip only allows for a visit of one or two of India's metropolitan cities, than definitely consider placing Kolkata on your itinerary. Love it or hate it, you definitely won't forget the city on the Hooghly.