I (explorer Indu) hail from the Southern part of India however I spent most of my life in West Bengal, for the past ten years I am staying in "the City of Joy" Calcutta which is renamed as Kolkata. I prefer to call it Calcutta like most of my friends do. After going through the history of this City, my love for this city grows deeper and deeper. "I love Calcutta" it is a very human city, its not like a city but more like a town, one needs to stay here to know this city, though this city is immense and sprawling with every single inch occupied by something or someone and most of it is in advance state of decay. here people are warm and helpful, benevolant and human. Dominique Lapierre, a French Author born in La Rochelle, France stayed in Calcutta and observed the people and named this city as "The City of joy", the hospitality of this City is beyond imagination.
Calcutta is a place which can be best understood by walking and exploring each one of its corners, a place whose joys and agonies cannot be fathomed by a mere visit. It is the only metropolitan today with trams and man- powered rickshaws still running on its roads. Kolkata has so many hidden 'gems' of architecural and historic value, like the Victoria memorial, the Howrah bridge, St. Paul's Cathedral, St. John's church, the Armenian Church, writers building, Jain temple, the Kali temple at Kali ghat, the Shovabazar Raj Bari, marble palace etc.
The Great Eastern Hotel 1910
The Great Eastern Hotel 2010
I started exploring Dalhousie from The Great Eastern Hotel: This 165 years old hotel now stands like a an old lamenting widow, all her charms withered with time, those were the glorious days when it was called “the nucleus of high society”, the burra sahibs and English men were her daily patrons and vacationers. She had beautiful European bar maids, cabaret dancer and her bar chock-a-block with people. By 1883, the entire premises of the hotel were electrified. It was probably the first hotel in the country to be illuminated by electric lights. So exalted was its reputation, that for a while, it was even referred to as the `Jewel of the East'.The Japanese and Koreans were its frequenters therefore it was also called “The Japanese hotel” this Wilson hotel was renowned for its euphoria and elegance. It had the privilege of English policemen patrolling its premises to shove the bullocarts into the by-lanes out of the way of burra sahibs. It has played host to lords, barons and foreign dignitaries, as also to Rajahs and Nawabs during the British Raj. Queen Elizabeth’s retinue also stayed here in 1961. It has changed hand many a time, now once again it is entering a new phase and into the hands of private owners. This classic heritage hotel has now been handed over to the Bharat Hotels Group. When re-opened, This Hotel will feature 244 rooms and suites, an all day dining outlet, two specialty restaurants, a 6000 sq. ft. Ballroom, 5 hi-tech Conference Rooms, a state-of-the-art Health Spa, Swimming Pool, two level Car Parking, from here I proceeded towards "The Dead Letter Office" it is a place where the letters which had no correct information necessary to get them delivered, or the person to whom the letter was addressed was already dead and the letter had nowhere to go were collected at this office.
The Dead Letter Office at Dalhousie.
My next move was towards "The Writers Building"
It is one of the very well preserved colonial era buildings in Kolkata. It is situated at the BBD Bag area (Dalhousie). The construction began at the late part of 17th century but it was mainly built between 1776 AD and 1780 AD by the british. It was to be the office of the junior writers of the East India Company. It was also their place of living. The building is very well preserved and is an imposing building in the area. At present it houses the administration of West Bengal Government and all important documents and records of the West Bengal Govt are preserved here. Photography is strictly prohibited here, so make sure that you don't take any picture of the Writers Building or else you will be in serious trouble. I enjoyed walking around this building, now i reached the Great Tank called the "Lal Dighi"
The Lal Dighi at Dalhousie
Around this Tank the East India Company established their factories, forts and business houses. This Tank was dug by a wealthy Bengali merchant, Lal Mohan Seth where the Setths used to hold the Holi Festival (the festival of colours) with great pomp and show, two temporary stages would be raised, one at the north for the deity Radha and the other at the south for the deity Sri Krishna, an ad hoc market, called Radha Bazar, would come into existence every year where Abir (powdered colours) were sold. During the Holi festival this Tank's waters would turn red with the colours hence this tank was named Lal (Red)Dighi(Tank).
As I had started my walk early in the morning, there was less traffic on the road, I could smell the fresh air, as I reached the G.P.O(general post office), I stood at the middle of the road and took some pictures of the G.P.O, here is one of them...
The General Post Office is located opposite BBD Bgh and is the central post office in Calcutta and the chief post office of West Bengal. The building stands on the site of the original Fort William and is where the infamous Black Hole of Calcutta occured in 1756. The building was designed by Walter B Grenville and was built in 1864. It is notable for its imposing high domed roof (rising to over 220 feet) and for its tall Ionic-Corinthian pillars. It is also a home to the Postal Museum which was unveiled in 1884. I was walking through the white town(of the British era.) which once occupied the whole area of Dalhousie (renamed B.B.D Bag) and I was trying to imagine how the Beautiful English women walked in their stiff-bodiced mantua and long gowns in the White Town. I looked down, at the ground and wished it could speak. Next to the G.P.O is the Royal Insurance Building.
The Royal Insurance Building
I walked further down and reached the Life insurance company building of the British Raj and took some pictures..
The Life Isurance building
Now the streets were becoming crowded because of the office hours, I walked pass the Governor House, once the house of Lord Curzon, the Govern of Bengal.during the British reign.
The Governor House
Lord Curzon's House (during the British Era)
After spending a few minutes here I set off for St. John's Church:
St. John's Church is located on the Council House Street. The carpet of the church is done with stones obtained from different places. Its architecture represents Greek designing. The Church contains an impressive organ (perhaps the largest in India), and an original Zoffany painting. It also houses the famous round table on which the Charter of Calcutta was signed (When Robert Clive took Calcutta back from the Bengali nawab after the famous Battle of Plassey in 1757). The graveyard contains the tombs of important colonists, most significantly, that of Job Charnock himself (the founder of Calcutta) and his daughter.
The mausoleum of Job Charnok at St. John's Church.
Inside St. John's Church
I sat on a bench outside the church and relaxed for a while and enjoyed the placid breeze and the serene atmosphere, here I ended my Walk for the day.
If you are planning to explore Calcutta then please feel free to contact me, I would love to join you for a walk to know more about me and my company visit www.letsmeetuptours.com or mail us at email@example.com