Unfolding Old Kolkata – Photo Stories

Unfolding Old Kolkata – Photo Stories



Time has no divisions to mark its passage; there is never a thunderstorm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols.

–Thomas Mann

Time passes away in its own pace and so the culture, society and our surroundings also. Today is the present and yesterday creates a history for us.

Old Calcutta, Heritage of kolkata, old pictures of kolkata
Handpull Ricksaws still holding the taste of old Kolkata

In this post we will take you in the anticlock direction and our destination – the vintage photographs of Calcutta, now known as Kolkata, taken by many photographers of that time. If you take a walking tour around Kolkata, maybe you will get very little similarities between “The Old Calcutta” and “The New Kolkata”.

1. Victoria Memorial:

Old Calcutta, Heritage of kolkata, old pictures of kolkata
The photograph of the Victoria Memorial Hall on the Maidan near the racecourse at Calcutta 17th March 1928

India’s largest and one of its oldest museums is located in the heart of the “City Of Joy”Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta) which is none other than “Victoria Memorial”. If you want to get the taste of ancient royal architectural works then Victoria Memorial is the perfect destination for you.

Full blog on Victoria Memorial – The Glory Of Kolkata

2. Calcutta High Court:

Old Calcutta, Heritage of kolkata, old pictures of kolkata
The photograph of Calcutta High Court
Old Calcutta, Heritage of kolkata, old pictures of kolkata
Calcutta (Kolkata) High Court – India 1890s

155 years ago on 1 July 1862, Calcutta High Court was established based on the design  the Cloth Hall, Ypres, in Belgium. It is the oldest court within India. It has jurisdiction over the state of West Bengal and the Union Territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

3. Currency Department:

Old Calcutta, Heritage of kolkata, old pictures of kolkata
The photograph of Currency Department Calcutta (Kolkata) – Mid 19th Century
Old Calcutta, Heritage of kolkata, old pictures of kolkata
Currency Office in Dalhousie Square – Calcutta (Kolkata) 1878

On the east of Dalhousie Square a magnificent building made by British, holds a great history of Kolkata for Issue and Exchange of Government Paper Currency. Dalhousie Square is at the center of Kolkata and the main administrative area for British. The name Dalhousie Square was named after the Governor-General in 1847. Now a days Dalhousie Square is also known as Binoy-Badal-Dinesh Bagh (B.B.D. Bagh) after the name of three Indian nationalists.

 4. Dharmatala/ Esplanade:

Old Calcutta, Heritage of kolkata, old pictures of kolkata
Dharmatala in the year 1945
Old Calcutta, Heritage of kolkata, old pictures of kolkataOld Calcutta, Heritage of kolkata, old pictures of kolkataOld Calcutta, Heritage of kolkata, old pictures of kolkataOld Calcutta, Heritage of kolkata, old pictures of kolkata
Esplanade mansion Calcutta

Dharmatala or Esplanade is the heart of Kolkata.
In the 18th century, Dharmatala is described as ‘a well raised causeway, raised by deepening the ditch on both sides.’ The trees on both sides joined together to make a filter between the sun and the street.
In today’s scenario, Esplanade becomes the busiest hub of Kolkata along with one large bus terminus, one tram terminus and the famous Esplanade metro station. Not only that one of the biggest market (New Market), also become an eye attraction.

5. GPO (General Post Office):

Old Calcutta, Heritage of kolkata, old pictures of kolkata
The photograph of General Post Office (GPO) – Calcutta (Kolkata) 1875

GPO, one of the iconic building, established in 1868 in the B.B.D. Bagh, witness countless incidents. The high domed roof of about 220 feet high and Ionic-Corinthian tall pillars, creates a landmark within the frame of Kolkata Map. 

6. The Great War Memorial of Calcutta:

Old Calcutta, Heritage of kolkata, old pictures of kolkata
The photograph of the Great War Memorial of Calcutta-(Kolkata)

The Great War Memorial of Calcutta situated in the north side of the Maidan (Gorer Math). The symbol to bestow the honour for all Calcutta British Soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the King and country during World War I. 

Full Blog on GORER MATH – Heritage of Kolkata

7. Great Eastern Hotel:

Old Calcutta, Heritage of kolkata, old pictures of kolkata
The photograph of Great Eastern Hotel 1865- Captured by Samuel Bourne in 1865

Great Eastern Hotel, established in 1840 or 1841 at Dalhousie Square, during the time of East India Company. The prior name was Auckland Hotel, named after George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland, the then Governor General of India. Moreover this hotel held two more renowned title – “Jewel of the East” and the “Savoy of the East”.

Bourne & Shepherd, photographic studio was established in Kolkata in 1867 by British photographers, Samuel Bourne and Charles Shepherd.

8. Metcalfe Hall:

Old Calcutta, Heritage of kolkata, old pictures of kolkata
The photograph of Metcalfe Hall in 19th century

Metcalfe Hall, established in the year between 1840-1844 according to the design prepared by the city magistrate, C.K. Robinson. The hall was named after the Sir Charles T. Metcalfe, the Governor-General of India. 
In the year 1903, Lord Curzon of Kedleston, the Viceroy of India, took the step for opening of National Library by merging both The Calcutta Public Library and The Imperial Library opened on 30th Jan 1903 at Metcalfe Hall, Kolkata.

Read more on Metcalfe Hall, National Library, The Calcutta Public Library and The Imperial Library 

9. Raj Bhavan:

Old Calcutta, Heritage of kolkata, old pictures of kolkata
Photograph of Raj Bhavan (Kolkata) – mid 18th century

Raj Bhavan, the official residence of Governor of West Bengal, located at the center of Kolkata. Established in 1803 and moreover costs a lump sum amount of 63,291 pounds at that period. During preindependence time Raj Bhavan, known as Government House. Not only Raj Bhavan covers a total area of around 84,000 sq ft but also encircled by a domain covering an area of 27 acres.

Not to mention that the Raj Bhavan has 6 gateways in six directions. Comparatively the best view of Raj Bhavan can acquire from the North Gate.

10. The Town Hall:

Old Calcutta, Heritage of kolkata, old pictures of kolkata
The photograph of the Town Hall [Calcutta] 1865
The Town Hall,built-in the style of Roman Doric in the year 1813 and situated in Esplanade Row. Moreover this hall was the paradise of multitudinous European parties and gathering.

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