Home > Calcutta (Kolkata), Calcutta Heritage, General > Calcutta Bungalow – Heritage Bed & Breakfast, an initiative of Calcutta Walks

Calcutta Bungalow – Heritage Bed & Breakfast, an initiative of Calcutta Walks

Calcutta Bungalow – Heritage Bed & Breakfast

An initiative of Calcutta Walks

It was probably in 2007 I met Iftekhar Ahsan (Ifte) for the first time. He had just launched Calcutta Walks, a walking tour company aimed at exploring the city. Calcutta was not new to walking tours and I was personally introduced to the concept of walking tour almost a decade before the meet.

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Welcome to Calcutta Bungalow, Heritage Bed & Breakfast (the logo has been superimposed by photo editing software)

It was in 1999 when renowned conservation architects Debasis Nayak and Akhil Ranjan Sarkar first introduced me to the world of walking tours. At that time I was doing my Masters of Business Management (MBM) from Calcutta University and thoroughly enjoyed the early morning training session through the lanes and by-lanes of Sovabazar area of north Calcutta.

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Calcutta Bungalow and the green Ambassador Car

Prior to Calcutta Walks the walking tour scenario in the city was totally dominated my conservation architects, who did occasional early morning tours. But making a living out of walking tours in Calcutta was unknown.

During our first meeting Ifte looked very confident and his plans never seemed overambitious. He provided me with the details of his initial two walks In the Footsteps of the Raj and Confluence Of Cultures. Both the walks were very well researched and seamed well executed.

The thing that impressed me most was his eagerness to learn and each of my suggestions were dealt with due importance.

Ever since our first meeting I have been in constant touch with Ifte and have also been part of couple of his walks (East Kolkata Wetlands Walk and Walkability study of Kolkata Maidan).

I often dropped in at Calcutta Walks office for brief adda sessions and during one of these visits, in July 2015, Ifte informed me that he has a surprise for me.

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Entrance of Calcutta Bungalow

He didn’t disclose the surprise and said that I need to travel to Shyambazr to see the surprise. Since the place was just a short detour from my way home to Saltlake, I decided to accompany him.

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The two plaques at the entrance of Calcutta Bungalow

Ifte drove us and just before the the Shyambazar five point crossing at Fariapukur, we took a right turn and enter the Radha Kanta Jeu Street, it connects the Acharya Prafulla Chandra Road to the Deshbandu Park.

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Baithakkhana (reception) of Calcutta Bungalow. L: Reception Desk, R: Waiting area

Deshbandhu Park, named after famous lawyer and freedom fighter Deshbandu Chitaranjan Das,  is a large open space in the heart of north Kolkata. It houses tennis courts and swimming pools along with a cricket and yoga clubs.

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Illuminated corridors leading to a room, Calcutta Bungalow

But Ifte stopped before the Deshbandhu Park in front of 5 Radha Kanta Jeu Street. It was a typical north Kolkata building built in Indo Saracenic style.

The beautiful three storied building is a reminder of the golden era of Kolkata’s architecture.

Sadly the building has long past its golden age and looks dilapidated with the missing ornamentation but the the structure has remained intact for almost a century.

Ifte informed me that the building belonged to the Majumdars and it was built in 1926 and then came the surprise!!! Ifte informed me that he has purchased half of this building and have plans for converting the building into Calcutta’s first Heritage Bed & Breakfast!!!

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Jatrapara one of the six rooms of Calcutta Bungalow

The plan seemed a bit overambitious and it seemed almost impossible as we stepped inside the house.

It was utter chaos with broken window and door frames along with missing sky lights and grill it seemed all in ruins.

Moreover with half of the house in possession the place looked very cramped. Two small  courtyards and two narrow staircases made things even more worse. The intact structure and the undying spirit of Ifte was the only ray of hope.

Ifte, a Muslim Marawari belonging to the Rangrez community, said that he is being partnered with his school friend Chris Chen. Chris, a Kolkata Chinese whose family has settled in Australia for over a decade.

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Three of the six rooms in Calcutta Bungalow. L: Boipara, M: Sahibpara and R: Jatrapara

Restoration started under the guidance of  conservation architect Akhil Ranjan Sarkar, yes the same person who introduced me to the world of walking tours almost two decades ago. He kept the original structure of the building intact and used old materials in restoring it.

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Two more rooms from Calcutta Bungalow. L: Mochipara and R: Darzipara

The interiors were laid out by scenographer Swarup Dutta, who seamlessly blended the old world heritage charm with the amenities of the modern world resulting into a boutique hotel which was christened as Calcutta Bungalow.

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Writing Desk, Boipara, Calcutta Bungalow

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Writing Desk, Jatrapara, Calcutta Bungalow

Bungalow generally refers to a single story dwellings, but Ifte prefers the name as the heritage bed & breakfast offers a bungalow way of life.

Sadly during the three years of restoration I was not able to visit the property.

I only visited the Calcutta Bungalow only a couple of days before its official inauguration on 7 May 2018.

Really Ifte proved me wrong, what appeared to be an over ambitious project was an well executed reality. It was an amazing foresight of Ifte and Chris and fine execution of Akhjil da and Swarup.

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Giant metalic bathtub at Sahibpara bathroom

The Calcutta Bungalow houses six rooms each representing six different neighborhoods of the city. The reception is called the Baithakkhana while the small lounge is called the Addakhana. The dinning area is called Notunbazar.

The reception is beautifully laid out with antique furniture consisting of metal stools. Old paintings and photos hung from the wall. Next to the reception is a small souvenir shops selling memorabilia related to Kolkata.

The six rooms, which represents the professions of six different localities, are carefully laid out with local ingredients. Instead of carpet, madur (bamboo mat) is used in the floors of all the rooms. Each room also decorated with beautiful chandeliers, nothing very ornate but it blends perfectly with the vintage look of the rooms. Also manual typewriters were part of every room and guest can type in their own letters and mail them home.

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A typewriter on a sewing machine table, Darzipara

The only room is ground floor is Potuapara, representing the painters quarters. The walls are adorned with potua paintings, but during the inauguration on 7 May 2018 this room was not ready.

The first floor has two rooms Jatrapara and Mochipara. Jatrapara the neighborhood of the theatre artist has a collage of Jatra posters. Dramatic names like Desh Bechbo Dalal Chai, Sadhu Saithan and Mondir Pelona Protima are written on earthen plates and used as wall hangings.

A large frame of numerous wooden shoe mold are part of the decoration of the Mochipara, the cobblers quarters. Framed tanned leather and leather bags used by bus and tram conductors are also on display.

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L: Wooden shoe moulds and R: leather conductors bags, from Mochipara, Calcutta Bungalow

The second floor houses three rooms Boipara, Sahibpara and Darzipara. Boipara or the book sellers locality, is similar to Jatrapara and have interesting framed book covers. It also houses a book shelve full of books.

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L: Jatra names written on earthen plates, Jatrapara and R: Porcelain crockery, Sahibpara, Calcutta Bungalow

Framed scissors and sewing machine table form part of the decoration of Darzipara, the tailors community. Although a bit irrelevant the room is beautifully decorated with wooden printing blocks.

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Notunbazar, the dinning room of Calcutta Bungalow

But the room that stands out is Sahibpara, the white man’s quarters, and the star attraction of the room is the giant sized brass bath tub in its bathroom. The room also is beautifully decorated with a portrait of Queen Victoria, prints of old maps and porcelain crockery.

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Sandesh Moulds and vintage switch board, Calcutta Bungalow

The Calcutta Bungalow managements want their guest to have their meals together, so the dinning room Notunbazar located at the middle of the first floor is decorated with chongs or loudspeakers which serves as lamps. The walls are decorated with giant size sandesh moulds and framed photos of nylon tholi (shopping bags).

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Decorative elements of Calcutta Bungalow. Clockwise from top left. A sky light, porcelain crockery, a grill at the stircase landing and railway guard lamps

The greatest thing of the Calcutta Bunglow is unique seamless blend of antiquity and modern amenities. The stair landings, the courtyards, the corners and all open spaces are meticulously furnished with antics.

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Decorative elements of Calcutta Bungalow. L – R: Enamel bowls on the walls with dek chair and tables, the two decorative recessed arch of addakhana and antiques and painting frame at baithakkhana

The antics consists of railway guard lights, enamel bowls, old fashioned irons and not to mention the framed old photos and paintings. Even the switch boards have a vintage look, with switches, regulators and plug points specially designed to match with the vintage surrounding.

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Rooftop Cafe, Calcutta Bungalow

The terrace houses a cafe with easy chairs. Presently it serves only in house guest but Calcutta Bungalow have plans to open it up for the outsiders also.

Necessary Information:

Location: 5 Radha Kanta Jew Street (Google location)

Price: Rs 5,000 per room per night with breakfast for two, till September 30. GST extra

Add on: A green Ambassador Car to ferry guest around

Official Website: www.calcuttabungalow.com

Booking email: bungalow@calcuttawalks.com

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  1. May 13, 2018 at 7:11 AM

    Wow. This is lovely,just what Calcutta needed,

  2. May 14, 2018 at 6:56 AM

    This is amazing! So proud of Ifte of gifting this beautiful bed and breakfast to our city.

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