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The Telegraph Huntage 2014, Decoding Calcutta’s Heritage

The Telegraph Huntage 2014

Decoding Calcutta’s Heritage

See Also: Compilation of The Telegraph Huntage

A two to four member team, a car and a leaflet with clues for eight heritage sites in Calcutta (Kolkata).  The team that reached the most spots within a specified time would win. Sounds easy, not exactly…

Flag off, Huntage 2014

Flag off, Huntage 2014

Thirteen heritage spots were selected and each team had to visit the allocated eight spots, following five different routes. To make it more complex, each spot had two sets of clues, thus making it a total of ten combinations.

The thirteen spots with the two clue sets are provided below:

1. Lascar Memorial

Clue Set I: Keir, Seamen, 6th February, Napier

Clue Set II: Ingram, 1000 – (52X2) =? sailors, Persian, White Tower of 100 ft approx

Lascar Memorial, Calcutta (Kolkata)

Lascar Memorial, Calcutta (Kolkata)

Lascar, a word of Persian origin, refers to the seamen of the Indian Ocean. The Lascar Memorial was built in memory of the 896 Lascars, who died fighting for the British Navy, during the WWI.

The 100 feet (aprox.) tall white tower of Lascar Memorial was designed by William Ingram Keir and was inaugurated by Lord Lytton, Governor of Bengal on 6th February, 1924. Today it is located on the Napier Road, near the Hasting area.

Lascar Memorial was erected by shipping and mercantile companies at the southern end of the Maidan, within 100 yards of Prinsep Ghat and in the shadows of the Second Hooghly Bridge.

The Lascar Memorial, built in Indo-Mughal style, has prows of an ancient galley projecting from each side and is capped by four mini minarets and a large dome. Along the facade are undulating lines symbolizing waves.

It is difficult to approach but can be spotted from the second Hooghly Bridge. It will be on the left side for people travelling from Calcutta (Kolkata) to Howrah. Read more…

2. 49th Bengali War Memorial

Clue Set I: Square of 7, College X College, Bangali Polton, Memorial Pillar

Clue Set II: Mesopatimia (Land Between rivers), Collage + Swimming pool, Memorial, 1,4,9,16,25, 36,??,64,81,100

Bengali War Memorial, College Square, Calcutta (Kolkata)

Bengali War Memorial, College Square, Calcutta (Kolkata)

Bengalis have never been a warrior race and a Bengali fighting a war would be one of the last thing one can imagine. Bengalis are rather dubbed as book worms showing their excellence in academic fields.

But in the very heart of Kolkata’s academic hub, stands a memorial dedicated to the Bengali warriors, killed during World War I.

Located just at the entrance of East gate of College Square, the 49th Bengali War Memorial is rarely visible as it is likely to be surrounded by posters or wet clothings left to dry.

The top of the pillar – like memorial is marked with the inscription “49 Bengalis.” 49 stands for the 49th Bengali Regiment.

The base contains the following inscriptions “In memory of members of The 49th Bengalee Regiment who died in the Great War, 1914-1918, To the Glory of God, King and Country.”

The 49th Bengali Regiment was formed during the WWI and served in Mesopatimia. Read more…

3. Old Mission Church

Clue Set I: Martin Luther Sr., Second oldest in city, Toppled Spire, The year of the famine

Clue Set II: Lutheranism, Madhusudan to Michel, 244 years old, Swedish Padre

Old Mission Church, Calcutta (Kolkata)

Old Mission Church, Calcutta (Kolkata)

The Old Mission Church was founded by the Swedish Lutheran missionary Johann Zachariah Kiernander. The Mission Church was founded in 1770 and happens to be the oldest Protestant Church in Calcutta (Kolkata) and the second oldest church (only next to Armenian Church) in the city.

The Old Mission Church was once popularly known as the Lal Girja, for its brick red exterior. Today, the brick red exterior no longer exists and over the years, the church has gone through several extensions and modifications.

The long slender spire of the Old Mission Church, which dominated the Calcutta (Kolkata) skyline in 1880s, toppled in 1897 due to the Assam earthquake, damaging it beyond repair.

Also it was at this very Mission Church, the famous poet Madhusudan Dutta was baptised and came to be known as Michael Madusudan Dutt. Read more…

4. Toong On Church and Nanking Restaurant

Clue Set I: Byomkesh Bakshi, Restaurant, Chinatown Revival, Umbrella Lane

Clue Set II: Warrior God, Church, Lion Dance, Chinese Bazar

Nanking Restaurant & Toong On Chinese Temple

Nanking Restaurant & Toong On Chinese Temple

Located at the Chatawalla Guli, at the heart of Tiretta Bazar (Chinese Bazar), is a beautiful two storied colonial building, with brick red exterior.  Dwarfed by towering buildings, this elegant building once housed Toong On Church in its first floor, while the ground floor was occupied by the famous Nanking Restaurant. Nanking Restaurant, established in 1924, is considered as the oldest Chinese Restaurant in Calcutta (Kolkata) and also in India.

Nanking closed in early 1980s due to a court dispute, which was finally solved in 2012. The Toong On Church (its a Chinese Temple, not a Christian Church), dedicated to the Chinese War God Kwang Ti, is now open to public.

Toong On Church has recently been in the hub of several cultural activities including the shooting of a Bomkesh Bakshi film and is part of the Chinatown revival project. Read more…

5. Calcutta Police Museum

Clue Set I: Japenese Bomb, Acharya Prafulla Chandra, Guns & History, Tegart

Clue Set II: Sookeas PS, 123 road, Cops, Bombs & Bullets

Calcutta Police Museum

Calcutta Police Museum

Located at 123 Acharya Prafulla Chandra Road, the Calcutta Police Museum houses an interesting collection of Guns, Bullets and history.

Once a residence of the Raja Rammohan Roy family, it was later converted into the Sookeas Street Police Station and finally it was converted into the Calcutta Police Museum in 1996.

The main focus of the Calcutta Police Museum is on the arms seized from the freedom fighters and exhibits the arms seized from them. The exhibit also includes the wheel and door of Charles Tegart’s (head of the Calcutta police Detective Department) car, which was bombed by the freedom fighters.

A huge Japanese bomb that was dropped in Calcutta (Kolkata) during the second World War was also in display.

There are several other galleries showing the photos of Calcutta police Commissioners and the evolution of Calcutta Police uniform.

6. P. L . Roy’s Grave at Bhawanipore Cemetery

Clue Set I: Find my resting place: I lay here for 35 years, Father of Indian _____, Tribute by Eastern Railway, Stadium

Clue Set II: Find my resting place: Red Gloves, Organised the first Inter – Railway _______ Championship, First Cambridge Blue from Asia, Rest in Peace (30 Dec 1979)

P L Roy's (Father of Indian Boxing) Grave

P L Roy’s (Father of Indian Boxing) Grave

Paresh Lal Roy or P L Roy is considered as the father of Indian Boxing. A Bengali Christian, he was educated in England and happens to be the first Asian Cambridge Blue.

P L Roy was introduced to the sport of Boxing in England and won the university championship.

He came back to India and introduced the sport of boxing to Indian youths. Boxing in India at that time was mainly confined to English and the Anglo Indians.

An employee of Eastern Railway, he introduced the first Inter – Railway Boxing Championship.

His grave at the Bhawanipore Cemetery is marked with a pair of red boxing gloves and can be easily spotted and lies on the right side of the main central passage.

The grave is a tribute of Eastern Railway and is maintained by P L Roy Memorial Boxing Training Centre.

The Eastern Railways also immortalised P L Roy by naming a indoor stadium in Sealdah after him and unveiled a marble bust of the boxer. Read more…

7. Girish Ghosh’s House

Clue Set I: Actor Poet Musician, Star Theatre, Home, Middle of the road

Clue Set II: Ramakrishna, Disciple, Theatre Renaissance, Island Home

Girish Ghosh's House

Girish Ghosh’s House

Girish Chandra Ghosh was a Bengali musician, poet, playwright, novelist, theatre director and actor.

He is considered as the father of Bengali Theatre and brought about the renaissance in Bengali theatre.

A regular performer at the prestigious Star Theatre, Girsh Ghosh was a disciple and follower of the social reformer Ramkrishna Paramhansa.

His house, which also doubles up as a museum, is located at the middle of the road in Bagbazar. Sadly, the museum is generally closed to the public.

8. Darwan’s Memorial Plaque, Presidency University

Clue Set I: Rabindranath Tagore, Darwan, Saviour, Pappu – Johnny

Clue Set II: Hindu College, Guard, Tablet, Graffiti

Darwan's Memorial Plaque, Presidency University

Darwan’s Memorial Plaque, Presidency University

Presidency University, formally Presidency College and even more formally the Hindu College, is an elite seat of learning in Calcutta (Kolkata).

Just at the entrance of the Presidency University, next to the guard room, is a plaque. Almost invisible, totally forgotten and the inscription have also faded with time.

Iit is dedicated to the darwan Ram Eqbal Singh, who died defending the college and the students from rioters in 1926.

The inscription on the plaque reads “In memory of Ram Eqbal Singh, darwan, Presidency College, who lost his life while gallantly defending the college during the April riots of 1926. This tablet is raised in appreciation of his sense of duty by the staff and students and some members of the public.”

Ram Eqbal Singh’s son and grandson also served as the darwan of the prestigious institute.

His son Ram Singh Deo was fondly called Johny and his grandson Santosh Singh is affectionately known as Pappu.

9. Grave of Maulana Azad’s father (Nakhoda Kabarsthan)

Clue Set I: Minister of Education, Bengali Muslim, Zulekha, Father’s Grave

Clue Set II: Gnadhian, Highest Civilian Award, Afgani Origin, Walid – Ki – Kabr

Maulana Azad's Father's Grave

Maulana Azad’s Father’s Grave

Maulana Abul kalam Azad was a freedom fighter and a follower of Mahatma Gandhi and the first Education Minister of independent India.

Azad’s father was Maulana Muhammad Khairuddin, a scholar who authored a dozen of books and had thousands of disciples.

He was a Bengali Muslim of Afgani origin.  Maulana Azad was born in Mecca but spent his childhood in Calcutta. He was married to Zulekha Begum.

Maluana Azad was posthumously awarded the highest civil award of India, Bharat Ratna in 1992.

The mortal remains of Mulana Azad’s father, Maulana Muhammad Khairuddin, lies in the Nakhoda Kabarsthan in the Manicktala region.

10. Robertson’s Monument, North Park Street Cemetery

Clue Set I: M.Buntain, White Mughal, Lone Surviving Tomb, 215 years

Clue Set II: Robertson, Police Connection, Lone and neglected grave, H.Buntain

Robertson Monument, North Park Street Cemetery

Robertson Monument, North Park Street Cemetery

The structure, known as the Roberson Monument, is the lone surviving grave of the demolished North Park Street Cemetery.

The North Park Street Cemetery was opened in 1797 and contained the grave of James Achilles Kirkpatrick, who was made immortal by William Dalrymple, in his best selling book White Mughals.

The Assembly of God church was an initiative of Rev. Mark and Huldah Buntain, and the AG Towers were built on the grounds of the North Park Street Cemetery.

Today, the almost camouflaged Robertson Monument, happens to be the only remaining tomb of the huge North Park Street Cemetery. It is a family grave of the Robertson Family, who have been in Calcutta for three generations and several of its male members have served the Calcutta Police in high ranks.

According to some sources it was the “Police Connection” that saved the grave from being demolished, but its locational advantage (located at one corner) definitely played a role. Read more…

11. McDonnell Monument, Forgotten Drinking Fountain

Clue Set I: Neo – Ghotic, McDonnel, King of the Jungle, Dried Spout

Clue Set II: Cloth Hall, Royal Roar, Frase, Trough

McDonnell Monument, the drinking fountain

McDonnell Monument, the drinking fountain

Located opposite the Neo – Ghotic styled Calcutta High Court, which was built in the lines of Cloth Hall in Ypres, Belgium, is a forgotten drinking fountain. This small but elegant structure is actual a memorial dedicated to William Fraser McDonnell.

William Fraser McDonnell, V.C., of Bengal Civil Service (1850 – 1886) and Puisne Judge of the High Court (1874 – 1886). McDonnell was the repentant of the Victoria Cross and was one of the four civilians to win the prestigious gallantry award, awarded for bravery in combat situation.

The lion mouth shaped water spout has long dried up and the metallic trough that collected water for horses has long vanished. The iron railing with lines of clothes, left to dry, totally blocks the view of McDonnell Monument.

Sadly the marble plaque, which said a few words about William Fraser McDonnell, has long gone missing. Read more…

12. Belgachia Rajbari

Clue Set I: M – Gate, Dwarakanath Tagore, Theatre, Garden House

Clue Set II: Milk Storage, I,K,??,O,Q..Gate, Ball Room & Party, Ratnabali

Belgachia Rajbari

Belgachia Rajbari

Approached through the M – Gate and located inside the Milk Colony in Belgachia, the magnificent Belgachia Rajbari is now in ruins.

During the 18th century, the Belgachia Rajbari was a favorite outhouse for the rich and the famous in Calcutta. It was the venue for elaborate parties and ball dances.

It was a favorite hunt for Dwarakanath Tagore, and the house was also visited by the Dutch Prince of Orange Henry and the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII).

Belgachia Rajbari also housed a theatre hall, where plays were staged. The play Ratnabali was staged in the Belgachia Rajbari and Michel Madhusudan Dutt provided the English translation.

Today the Belgachia Rajbari is in a rundown stage and houses a factory. Although the structure of the building has remained more or less intact, a shade built in front of the building has totally ruined the view of the spectacular Belgachia Rajbari.

13. Digambar Jain Temple, Belgachia

Clue Set I: Enshrinment, Red, Mana Stambha, Gardens

Clue Set II: Tower, The colour of love, Vegetarianism, 23 rd

Digambar Jain Temple, Belgachia

Digambar Jain Temple, Belgachia

Located next to the Belgachia Bridge, is the spectacular Digambar Jain Temple.

Dedicated to the 23rd Tirthankara Parasnath, the temple consists of several structures enclosed within a high wall.

The interior contains beautiful landscaped gardens complete with flower beds, fountains and rock gardens.

The main temple and the boundary walls, along with the gate, are red in colour.

The complex is dominated by a tower like structure, known as the Mana Stambha and literally means “column of honor.” Mana Stambha is a regular feature in Jain Temple complex and is crowned with images of four Jain Tirthankaras.

Tie Brakers

Tie Breaker I: Quiz Questions

Tie Breaker II: Photo Task

In case multiple cars finished within the stipulated time, covering all the eight spots, the tie was to be broken by a set of multiple choice questions (Tie Breaker I) and if the dead lock still continued, then Tie Breaker II came in.

Tie Breaker II was a photo task, which was supposed to be performed during the rally. It said to take a photograph of the plaque which “marks the position of the extent of the parts of the North East bastion of the Old Fort William.”

There were no ties and non of the tie breakers were needed, but tie breaker II was definitely tricky. I am not sharing the photo or disclosing the location of the plaque. Hope the Huntage participants or Calcutta enthusiasts will come up with the right answer (do leave your answer in the comment section).

Finish, Huntage 2014

Finish, Huntage 2014

So it was not as easy as it sounded!!! Only 7 teams out of the 102 participating teams could crack all the 8 clues. Team “4 Jon 4 Nok” (Char Jon Charnock) consisting of Suvo Palit, Samik Ghosh, Sanjoy Dey and Uday Sinha Roy were declared winners.

Special Thanks:

  • Voicworx Events & Workshops for including me in the organising team.
  • The Telegraph, Club Verde Vista, Club Ecovista by Conclave and Maruti Suzuki Celerio.
  • Voiceworx Event & Workshop team who braved the rains to make the event a perfect success.
  • The Huntage Participants, whose spirits were not dampned even by the rain!!!

Discalaimer: This is a personal blog and the facts and opinions expressed in this blog post is entirely personal. It has no connection with The Telegraph or with any other sponsors or with the event managers Voiceworx Events & Workshops.

  1. March 5, 2014 at 2:49 AM

    Glad to know about this initiative..Thanks for sharing..

  2. March 5, 2014 at 8:19 AM

    Very nicely written. And thanks a ton for your support and patience throughout the spot hunting process.

    • March 5, 2014 at 4:51 PM

      Rehan it was not only a wonderful experience but also a learning experience. Hat off to you and you men for making the event a grand success even under unfavorable conditions!!!

  3. March 5, 2014 at 9:05 AM

    The plaque marking the North-East bastion of Old Fort William is in the front portion of GPO………there is also a brass plate lying in the staircase of GPO marking the North-East bastion……….the plaque and the brass plate was erected by Lord Curzon…………….And thank you a lot to you Sir for the post…………

  4. March 5, 2014 at 9:28 AM

    Actually it is a bit difficult to find the Plaque………it placed high on wall over one of the gates of GPO……..found it 4 years ago on a winter afternoon while travelling through Dalhousie for a office work………felt absolutely amazed on that day to know the fact………Everyone should check it atleast once………..

    • March 5, 2014 at 4:49 PM

      Soham you are wrong in this case. The plaque and the brass line in GPO marks the South East bastion of Old Fort William. The link provides a photo of the GPO plaque and the brass line https://rangandatta.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/gpo-brass1.jpg

      So if this is the South East end which is the North East end??? just get you bearings right and make a field trip, you will get it!!!!

      • March 5, 2014 at 6:48 PM

        Yes……..yes…….now i can recollect……..it is the south-east end…….then the Plaque you are asking for must be in the Fairlie Place……..somewhere around present Eastern Railway Building……….I will definitely check it out within a week and upload the photo……….

    • March 5, 2014 at 11:30 PM

      Soham you are on the right track, hope to see the photo soon!!!!

  5. March 5, 2014 at 9:32 AM

    Reblogged this on Table Talk … by Suvo Palit and commented:
    Quote Unquote

    • March 5, 2014 at 5:03 PM

      Thanks Suvo, congrats for winning the Huntage.

      You and your team did a great job!!! Keep it up.

  6. March 6, 2014 at 5:34 PM

    THANKS FOR SHARING THIS BEAUTIFUL INFORMATION.

  7. indrani
    March 6, 2014 at 9:34 PM

    This sounds like some kind of fun but learned lot of new details.

    • March 6, 2014 at 10:57 PM

      Dear Indrani its a fun way of learning. It happens in Kolkata quiet regularly. Hope it happens in other cities too!!!

  8. Indrani Chatterjee
    March 11, 2014 at 2:10 AM

    what lovely ideas, and ways to learn- kudos to the groups that organised it, as well as those who got the answers! Only in Kolkata! Love it for this reason.

    • March 11, 2014 at 7:52 AM

      Yes Indrani di, it happens only in Calcutta. Credit must go to the organizers and the also to the participants.

  9. soumyadeep dey
    March 18, 2014 at 4:27 PM

    bah darun interesting… Heritage site gulo ke keno je govt r toroph theke promote kra hoina … Ke jane..

  10. April 1, 2014 at 10:30 AM

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful post, It is awesome.

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