|| A Walk through the bylanes of North Calcutta ||
Calcutta (or old Kolkata) was known for its ‘Babu’ culture with the ‘Zamindar baaris’ ( House of the landowners ). North Calcutta – the areas of Baghbazar, Shyambazar, Bowbazar to Burrabazar still hold the essence of those old cultures within the natives.
Walking through any of the lanes of these places, you would get the view of the dilapidated old mansions, which once held the pride of many of its residents. Many of the buildings are so old that they had to be vacated due to their dangerous conditions. There are shops that still run across the streets, carrying the local feelings.
Few of them stand among the well-maintained historical places that are worth a visit – not only to satiate the feel of old Calcutta, but also to know the culture a bit deep.
Let’s take a heritage stroll –
1. Jorasanko Thakur Bari
Named after the area Jorasanko (meaning two (jora) wooden or bamboo bridges (sanko) that spanned a small stream at this area), Tagore’s ancestral house is called ‘Thakur Bari’. The famous poet and first non-European Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore spent his childhood and died on 7 August 1941 in this house only.
For those who have less idea about the poet’s work and contributions towards the freedom of India, this place is the right place to get a clear picture.
How to reach:
I went on a Sunday and it was too humid. Alighting at Girish Park Metro, took a local auto-rickshaw that took us to the place. The Rabindra Bharati University runs in this place and is also open to the public for visits till 4 p.m. The place is closed on Mondays. A quick tip, get permission for photographing the ‘Thakur dalan’ areas and the building from outside beforehand. Photography is not allowed inside the museum.
Camera fee was 50 INR per camera and Entry fee to the museum was INR 20 per person.
Time to visit: Approximately 2.5 – 3 hours.
About the place:
The land was donated by Sett family of Burrabazar to Prince Dwarkanath (Rabindranath’s grandfather). The museum holds the story of the poet’s family and how was it involved in Bengal Renaissance and the Brahmo Samaj. There are well-maintained paintings and used items of the Tagore’s family. The cultures of Japan, China and America and Tagore’s association with these countries have also been depicted impressively.
Spend some time to get some clear idea of a part of Bengal’s history that was not only praised by the people from around the world, but also considered as contemporary today as it was then.
2. Nakhoda Mosque
At the intersection of Zakariya Street and Rabindra Sarani, this Mosque is the main mosque of Kolkata.
How to reach:
Nakhoda Masjid is at a 10 minutes distance from Jorasanko on auto-rickshaw.
Entry is free, but during the prayer time, women might not be allowed to enter the prayer hall (I was told to wait till the prayer ends).
Nakhoda means Mariner, was built on 1926 imitating the mausoleum of Mughal Emperor Akbar at Sikandra, Agra.
Quick tips –
Please maintain the etiquettes and ask for permission before taking any photographs.
3. Kumortuli – the Potter’s Hub
It is the place where Gods are made, really. Located very close to Shovabazar Metro station, this place is at a distance of an auto ride. Walk through the lanes of this area and find out the ways in which clay modeling is done.
How to reach:
Located very close to Shovabazar Metro station, this place is at a distance of an auto ride from the station. Walk through the lanes of this area and find out the ways in which clay modeling is done.
Best time to visit Kumortuli is around a month before the Durga Puja. The artisans would be very busy and it is always requested to maintain the decorum so that your presence doesn’t create any hindrance to their work.