It all started with a friend suggesting that we take a heritage walk through the streets of old Kolkata organized by Padhaaro. While the former capital of British India has evolved a lot after Independence in 1947, the city's rich history is still preserved in bits and pieces in its architecture, culture and street furniture, most of which are visible in the old parts of the city, i.e., primarily North Kolkata.
Our journey started from the iconic Flury's restaurant at Park Street (our meeting point) with our guide Anjan from Padhaaro. Then we moved straight to Jorasanko Thakurbari (Rabindranath Tagore's Residence) from where the heritage walk started. From there, we walked down to the Marble Palace, then to Gauri Bari, Shobhabazar Rajbari (where the most famous Durga Puja takes) and then to Kumartuli (the iconic street where idols are prepared and exported to various places within and outside the country).
The photos below were captured on the journey. Enjoy the charm of this beautiful city!
The Route Map
Make your way to Girish Park or Shobhabazar metro station and then walk down to the places described here.
The Gullies of Old Kolkata
Old Kolkata still retains its charm of yore in the lanes, architecture and street furniture, a glimpse of which can be seen below. Even today, locals residing in this area can be seen gathering on benches attached to building premises for adda or gossip.
A residential neighborhood in Old Calcutta
Business is over for the day in this commercial lane
A vintage mailbox
Adda by lamplight
The Marble Palace
This palatial mansion in North Kolkata was built in 1835 by Raja Rajendra Mullick, a wealthy Bengali merchant with a passion for collecting works of art. Built in Neoclassical in style, the house contains plenty of Western sculpture and Victorian furniture, paintings by European and Indian artists, and other decorative objects including large chandeliers, clocks and floor-to-ceiling mirrors.
The façade of Marble Palace
A European-style sculpture in the garden
The Gauri Bari area in Kolkata is famous for the Jain Parshwanath Temple. Built by a Jain named Rai Badridas Bahadoor Mookim in 1867, the temple is a major tourist attraction and also a favourite "evening adda" spot for residents.
Jain temple at Gauri Bari
Another building inside the Jain temple complex
A sculpture inside the Jain temple complex
An evening adda in progress at the temple complex
Built by Raja Nabakrishna Deb, the Shobhabazar Rajbari is famous for its grand celebration of Durga Puja. This has been a tradition ever since 1757 when the victory of the British over Siraj-ud-Daulah at the Battle of Plassey was celebrated with much fanfare. Lord Clive and Warren Hastings were in the list of invitees. While I could not capture the Puja that is celebrated here every year between September to October, this place is a must-visit during the festival.
Quiet for now: The façade of Shobhabazar Rajbari
Evening worship at Rajbari
Kumartuli is a traditionally potters' quarter in North Kolkata. This neighbourhood not only supplies clay idols of Hindu gods and goddesses to various Barowari (public organisation of a religious festival) in Kolkata and its neighbourhoods, but also exports its beautiful creations.
Entrance to the Potters' Lane
Work in progress at Kumartuli
Bodies of work
A temple at Kumartuli
Food & Drinks
Old Kolkata is famous for its street food. While a tourist will have plenty of opportunity to munch on hot kathi rolls and chops in the numerous roadside food stalls on the way, it is highly recommended to take a break at Mitra Café near Shobhabazar metro station. One of the oldest cafés in the city, it serves delicious cutlets and other fast food.