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

May 10, 2018 12 comments

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.

Calcutta Bungalow 1

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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Wreck of Sir John Lawrence, the advent of Kolkata – Puri rail link

March 7, 2018 4 comments

Wreck of Sir John Lawrence

The advent of Kolkata – Puri rail link

The Mullick Ghat Flower Market and the adjoining ghats has always been a hunting ground for photographers. The top view of the chaotic flower market or wrestlers posing in front of the iconic Howrah Bridge are some of the most prized photos.

But hidden from the photographers is an almost invisible marble plaque telling a sad but interesting tale. Located on the wall on the right of the stairs leading down to Chotulal Ghat (also called Mullick Ghat) is a bilingual (Bengali and English) dedicated to the memory of ship wreck victims.

The Bengali version reads as

ইং ১৮৮৭ সালের ২৫ এ মে তারিখের ঝটিকাবত্ত সার জন লারেন্স বাস্পীয় জাহাজের সহিত যে সকল তীর্থযাত্রি (আধিকাংশ স্ত্রীলোক) জলমগ্ন হইয়াছেন তাহাদিগের স্মরণার্থ কয়েকটি ইংরাজ রমণী কর্ত্তক এই প্রস্তর ফলক খানি উৎসীগৃত হইল।

The English version reads as

The stone is dedicated by a few English women to the memory of those pilgrims, mostly women, who perished with the Sir John Lawrence in the cyclone of 25th May 1887.

Cyclones and ship wrecks were nothing uncommon in the Hooghly River but this wreck was important and it lead to a significant change in the history of Indian transport and paved the way for Kolkata – Puri rail link!

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Restoration of Jewish Cemetery, Kolkata

January 5, 2018 2 comments

Jewish Cemetery, Kolkata

Kolkata Jews retrace their ancestor’s graves

Also See: Kolkata (Calcutta ) Jews

Rosemary Cohen has come all the way from Australia, with a inverted family tree. A few of the branches of the family tree stressed back to five generation. She, accompanied by her husband, was looking for the graves of her ancestors in the newly renovated Jewish Cemetery of Kolkata.

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Looking for their ancestor’s grave, Jewish Cemetery, Kolkata

As we made our way through the thickly packed maze of, freshly painted, white graves of the Jewish Cemetery, Rosemary narrated her fond memories of Kolkata, the city of her birth.

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Beth El and Magen David Synagogue, Kolkata, Re-dedication & Celebration of Restoration

December 29, 2017 2 comments

Beth El and Magen David Synagogue, Kolkata

Re-dedication & Celebration of Restoration

Also See: Kolkata (Calcutta ) Jews

As the Muslim boys of Elias Meyer School (popularly known as Jewish Boys School) sang Hebrew song of peace Oseh Shalom at the Magen David Synagogue in Kolkata Ezra Moses could no longer hold his tears.

Synagogue Reopen 01

Re-dedication and Celebration of Restoration of the Beth El Synagogue, Kolkata

A emotional Ezra Moses, presently a resident of Miami, USA, murmured “this is where my parents got married, long time back, probably in 1943. This is the city of my birth.”

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Unveiling of Dutch plaque at Suriname Memorial, Kolkata

November 29, 2017 6 comments

Unveiling of Dutch plaque at Suriname Memorial

Balu Ghat (Suriname Jetty), Garden Reach, Kolkata

Also see: Suriname Memorial

“My ancestors must have stood here for the last time before leaving India forever. The men carried two dhotis and two kurtas each. The women carried two saris each. Apart from this, some carried religious books like the Ramayana, Mahabharata or Quran,”

Aashna Kanhai Ambassador of Suriname

Unveiling of the Dutch plaque at Suriname Memorial, Kolkata. L - R: Dave C Prasad (High Commissioner Trinidad & Tobago, Aashna Kanhai (Ambassador of Suriname), M J Akbar (Union Minister of state for External Affairs), Alphonsus Stoelinga (Ambasador of the Kingdom of Netherlands), Vinit Kumar (Chairman of Kolkata Port Trust) and Kajari Biswas (Branch Secretary, Kolkata, Ministry of External affairs)

Unveiling of the Dutch plaque at Suriname Memorial, Kolkata. L – R: Dave C Prasad (High Commissioner Trinidad & Tobago, Aashna Kanhai (Ambassador of Suriname), M J Akbar (Union Minister of state for External Affairs), Alphonsus Stoelinga (Ambasador of the Kingdom of Netherlands), Vinit Kumar (Chairman of Kolkata Port Trust) and Kajari Biswas (Branch Secretary, Kolkata, Ministry of External affairs)

Suriname Memorial, a small non – descriptive memorial, on the banks of Hooghly River in Metiabruz and Garden Reach area was unveiled, on 7 Oct. 2015, by the Union External Minister Sushma Swaraj, in the presence of  Aashna Kanhai, Ambassador of Suriname.

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Memorial of Thomas Dean Pearse, St. Stephen’s School, Dum Dum, Kolkata

March 29, 2017 Leave a comment

Memorial of Thomas Dean Pearse

St. Stephen’s School, Dum Dum, Kolkata

Parse Memorial

Memorial of Thomas Dean Pears, St. Stephen’s School, Dum Dum, Kolkata

Date: 17 August 1880 Time: 5:30 am Location: Belvedere

Two shots broke the silence of the monsoon morning at Alipore, on the southern fringes of Calcutta (now Kolkata), but these were not ordinary gun shots but shots of a duel.

The shots were part of the infamous duel between Warren Hastings and Phillip Francis.

Hasting was appointed the Govern General by the directors of the East India Company. The directors also appointed a council of four members who enjoyed equal powers in the board as the governor general. Philip Francis was one of the four councils and always went against Hastings.

A conflict regarding the war with the Marathas lead to the duel between the two. Thursday, August 17 was the chosen date, and Belvedere was to be the venue; the time chosen for the encounter was half past five in the morning.

Both stood behind the mark and at the counting of one, two and three both fired. Francis fired first and missed his target while Hastings’ fire found its mark on his opponent’s right arm. Francis staggered and while attempting to sit, fell on the ground crying out he was a “dead man”. He recuperated within few days and attended the Council where both were civil in behaviour.

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Indentured Indian Labourers Memorial and Kolkata Port Trust Clock Tower

March 15, 2017 15 comments

Indentured Indian Labourers Memorial and Clock Tower

Kolkata Port Trust, Kidderpore, Kolkata

We are the forgotten children of mother India. Mauritius, Trinidad, Suriname, Guyana and Fiji celebrate Indian Arrival Day and have memorials for the Indian workers. But in India no one remembers them

David Sheoraj of Trinidad and Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs)

Kolkata Memorial, a tribute to the Indian Indentured Labourers, Kolkata Port Trust

Kolkata Memorial, a tribute to the Indian Indentured Labourers, Kolkata Port Trust

Fiji: 14 May, Mauritius: 2 Nov., Trinidad: 30 May, Guyana: 8 May, Suriname: 5 June, Jamaica: 10 May. These days are all national holidays in the respective countries and are known as the Indian Arrival Day.

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