Friday, May 10, 2013

Life in past Calcutta - amazing and rare pics of streets, schools, colleges, markets, stations, buildings, hotels, places etc.

View of Calcutta - 1880's (source eBay)
Esplanade area in the old times.
The Esplanade and Government House from Chowringhee - Calcutta  1865, source British Library
(A view from the north end of Chowringhee Road, beside the carriage stand, looking north-west across the Dhurrumtollah Tank, towards the façades of the houses along Esplanade Row, with Government House at the extreme left. The flat-fronted, verandahed building behind the premises of William Coish & Co is the Adjutant-General's offices. Among the commercial premises on Esplanade Row are Mountain's Hotel, Madame Nielly (French milliner), Payne & Co's Belatee Bungalow and Thomson & Co)
View of Calcutta from Esplanade, a old post card image






Esplanade Row (East) in the nineteenth century, a painting by Allom T.



Esplanade Mansions, Calcutta













Esplanade Row in 1878. source - British Library
(Esplanade Row contained many of Calcutta's impressive public buildings including the High Court, Town Hall and Government House)

An old photograph taken in the year 1903 somewhere in Calcutta showing four Britishers in a car. 


A 1944 picture of Chowringee Road (Esplanade) near the tram terminus. Building with clock tower housed Whiteaway and Laidlaw department store. It stocked good, British and Indian made clothing and accessories. Even in 1944, the Hotel Continental lacked most modern conveniences.

The GI tourist here ponders the purchase of a "rare gem" --- a typical camera study of life on Chowringhee during the war. Firpo's  famous restaurant is in the background and a dhoti-clad native Indian and a British officer in shorts lend a bit of atmosphere. Picture taken somewhere in between 1935 to 1947.

Firpo's Restaurant in Chowringhee.
An old lunch menu dated Friday, the 30th March, 1945 of Firpo Ltd Caterers.

Firpo's Restaurant in Chowringhee in the year 1917.
Firpo's Restaurant in Calcutta was established after the Great World War I around 1917by Angelo Firpo, an Italian birth and culture. He opened several famous restaurants, a tea room that was favorite spot for the high society, a renowned pastry shop and a popular catering service that delighted Lord Irwin, the Viceroy and Governor of India, several Maharajas and other important dignitaries.His refined cuisine made him famous worldwide. The restaurant produced bread for the entire Bengal region and it had a turnover of  one billion liras at the time.











Street scene - buffalo carts. 





Side street (today's Bentinck street), north of tram terminus,  1944

Bentinck Street -1945 





Harrison Road (today's M G road), Calcutta - 1910

Fort William and Red Road, Calcutta - 1870




Esplanade (also known as Dharamtala street), Calcutta






Native Street Scene, Harrison Road, Calcutta.

Tank near Camac Street and Burial Ground Road Crossing, Calcutta( 1858-61)
The road Camac Street was named after William Camac, a senior merchant in the days of Lord Cornwallis and Lord Wellesley.
Burial Ground Road is now known as Park Street.



A poor cripple's ox-cart, Calcutta in the 1900's.

Very old photograph of Durga Idol. Probably from late 19th or early 20th century.
 Durga means "the inaccessible" or "the invincible" is a popular fierce form of the Hindu Goddess or Devi. She is depicted with multiple (variously,from ten up to thousand) arms, carrying various weapons and riding a ferocious lion. She is often pictured as battling or slaying demons, particularly Mahishasura, the buffalo demon.
For the Goddess-worshipping Shaktas, Durga is sometimes equated with Mahadevi, the Supreme Goddess. Her triumph as Mahishasura Mardini, Slayer of the buffalo Demon is a central episode of the scripture Devi Mahatmya. Her victory is celebrated annually in the festivals ofNavaratri and Durga Puja.
It was also said that even British officials regularly attend Durga Pujas organized by influential Bengalis and British soldiers actually participate in the pujas, have prasad, and even salute the deity.
Calcutta's biggest and largest festival celebration till date.




A typical early morning scene in Burial Ground Road( Park Street) probably in the 1930's or 40's.
Street scene. Cows, dogs are commonly seen household animals on the streets, even today. 

Harrison Road view probably in the late 60s.



Small Cause Court, Calcutta 1878


Old court house street near Esplanade, Calcutta. probably in the late 1920s.


Clive Street, Calcutta - 1890

Vintage photo of Howrah Station probably in the year 1943.
An overview image of  Howrah Station in the early 1940's.
A distant view of old Writers Building taken before the Dalhousie Institute was built within Dalhousie Square.
The foundation of Dalhousie Institute was laid on 4th March, 1865.


Street scene showing a traffic police standing with an umbrella in the centre on Chowringee Road in front of Whitewaw and Laidlaw & Co Ltd in the year 1944.

Native Calcutta Traffic police in the old times.










View of Writers Buildings - 1905






Writers Building view probably in the early 1900s.
The Writers' Building originally served as the office for writers of the British East India Company, hence the name. Designed by Thomas Lyon in 1777, the Writers' Building has gone through several extensions over the years.


Zoological Gardens (today's Alipore zoological gardens) in the old times.

Great Eastern Hotel, Calcutta in the year 1930 probably.
The Great Eastern Hotel is a colonial era hotel in the Indian city of Calcutta. The hotel was established in 1840 or 1841; at a time when Calcutta, the seat of the East India Company, was the most important city in India. Referred to as "the Jewel of the East" in its heyday, Great Eastern Hotel hosted several notable persons visiting the city. After India's independence in 1947, the hotel continued its business but went into decline during the Naxalite era of West Bengal; later the state government took over the management.
Street near Great Eastern Hotel in the year 1945 showing two cars.

Great Eastern Hotel, Calcutta
Photograph of Great Eastern Hotel in Calcutta, India, taken at some time between 1850 and 1870.
The hotel was established in 1840 or 1841 by David Wilson as the Auckland Hotel, named after George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland, then Governor General of India.[1] Prior to opening the hotel, Wilson ran a bakery at the same site.[2] The hotel opened with 100 rooms and a department store on the ground floor (Spence's Hotel, established in 1830 but no longer in existence, is considered to be the first major hotel in Calcutta).[3] The Auckland was expanded in the 1860s and its managing company renamed from D. Wilson and Co. to Great Eastern Hotel Wine and General Purveying Co. In 1883, it was electrified, and is thought to be the first such hotel in India. It was also amongst the first to have an Indian on its board of directors, in 1859.[1] It became the Great Eastern Hotel in 1915.













Great Eastern Hotel Calcutta, India Luggage Label ca.1920



Council House Street, Calcutta in the mid nineteenth century.
See the Great Eastern hotel on the right.

Kalighat Temple (Kalighat Kali Temple is a Hindu Temple dedicated to the Hindu Goddess Kali. It is the one of the 51 Shakti Peethas.) in the year 1932.


Pahawallah (Indian Policeman), Calcutta

The High Court at Calcutta, formerly known as the High Court of Judicature at Fort William, was brought into existence by the Letters Patent dated 14th May, 1862, issued under the High Court's Act, 1861, which provided that the jurisdiction and powers of the High Court were to be defined by Letters Patent. The High Court of Judicature at Fort William was formally opened on 1st July, 1862, with Sir Barnes Peacock as its first Chief Justice. Appointed on 2nd February, 1863, Justice Sumboo Nath Pandit was the first Indian to assume office as a Judge of the Calcutta High Court, followed by legal luminaries such as Justice Dwarka Nath Mitter, Justice Ramesh Chandra Mitter, Sir Chunder Madhab Ghosh, Sir Gooroodas Banerji, Sir Ashutosh Mookerjee and Justice P.B. Chakravartti who was the first Indian to become a permanent Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court.
The Calcutta High Court has the distinction of being the first High Court and one of the three Chartered High Courts to be set up in India, along with the High Courts of Bombay, Madras.

Calcutta High Court in the year 1860.
The High Court building is an exact replica of the Cloth Hall, Ypres, in Belgium.


Calcutta High Court in the year 1905.

Old Picture of Calcutta High Court from Life Archive hosted by Google. Exact date and photographer is unknown.



Calcutta High Court - 1890

The Ochterlony Monument, in Esplanade, Calcutta in the late  1860s' probably.
It is a monument in Calcutta that was erected in 1825 by Major-general Sir David Ochterlony, commander of the British East India Company, to commemorate both his successful defense of Delhi against the Marathas in 1804 and the victory of the East India Company’s armed forces over the Gurkhas in the Anglo-Nepalese War. The monument was constructed in his memory. It was designed by J.P. Parker and paid for from public funds.
In August 1969, it was rededicated to the memory of the martyrs of the Indian freedom movement and hence renamed the "Shahid Minar," which means "martyrs monument" in both Bengali and Hindi, by the then United Front Government in memory of the martyrs of the Indian independence movement. The present government has decided to illuminate the tower during evenings and allow visitors to the top.



Statue of Lord Hardinge and Ochterlony Monument, Calcutta 1860s'.
A view looking across the Maidan towards Chowringhee Road, with J.H. Foley's equestrian statue of Viscount Hardinge of Lahore, Governor-General of India from 1844-1848, in the foreground. The monument to Sir David Ochterlony, the victor of the Anglo-Nepalese War of 1814-1816, now renamed the Shahid Minar, a monument to Indian martyrs, is beyond.




Bally Bridge (Vivekananda Setu). maybe in the year 1945.


Maidan in 1870s; 143 yrs old view

BBD Bag (Dalhouse Square) in 1920.


Shyambazar, Calcutta in the past.


Grand Hotel (now called The Oberoi Grand) in the 1940's on Chowringhee  Road.


Grand Hotel advertisement in the 1940's.


GRAND HOTEL, Calcutta India April 19, 1946 Program for Dancing Dining Wining.


Victoria House (Headquarters of the Calcutta electric Supply Corporation) along the left in the year 1945.

Old Picture of Victoria Memorial, Calcutta from Life.



An old picture showing the construction of Victoria Memorial Hall (now serves as a museum and a tourist attraction) going on.



Imperial Museum (now Indian Museum) Calcutta - Mid nineteenth Century.
(The Indian Museum (Bengali: ভারতীয় জাদুঘর) is the largest museum in India and has rare collections of antiques, armour and ornaments, fossils, skeletons, mummies, and Mughal paintings. It was founded by Dr Nathaniel Wallich a Danish botanist at Serampore (originally called Frederischnagore) near Kolkata (Calcutta), India, in 1814. It is a multi-disciplinary institution of national standing and is one of oldest museums in the world)
The Imperial Museum, one of the oldest museums in the world on Chowringhee road, Calcutta in 1905.
View from the Imperial Museum, Calcutta - 1880's.



Elite Theatre (now Elite Cinema) in the year 1945.



Strand Road - 1885











An old picture of Curzon Gardens (the gardens infront of the Victoria Memorial Hall) - Calcutta

A 19th century photograph of the Ballygunge area, Calcutta




Grains Boats, Alipore bridge, Calcutta - Mid 19th Century ( Between 1850's to 1870's)






South Suburban College old building (renamed Asutosh College) in the year 1916-17.
The college was established in the year 1916  under the stewardship of educationist Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee.
Bethune College and School buliding in the year 1949.
Bethune College, the first college to play a historic role in the cause of women's education in Bengal , started as the Hindu Female School and blossomed into the Bethune School on 7 May 1849. Its founding father,John Elliot Drinkwater Bethune, himself a graduate from Trinity College, Cambridge and the Fourth Wrangler, had arrived in India in April 1848 as the Law Member of the Governor General's Council. He also held the post of the President of the Council of Education.


Sir Stuart Hogg Market possibly in the year in between 1910 and 1930.

The Calcutta Boys School old building in the year 1893.
The Calcutta Boys' School was founded by the Rev. James Mills Thoburn (Methodist Missionary to India, and later Missionary Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church), and was opened in 1877. It was endowed by the late Robert Laidlaw and others interested in the education of the sons of the Anglo-Indian and domiciled European community.
Hogg Market in the year 1905.




La Martiniere School, Calcutta (founded 1836) in the mid ninteenth century.
The Calcutta La Martiniere Schools, were the result of Martin’s desire to start a school “for the public good of the town of Calcutta or establish a school for educating a certain number of children of any sex to a certain age, and to have them put prentice to some profession.” Through it generations of young lives would find a footing in the world. It took 30 years to dispose of the litigation arising out of the will. Finally, as a result of a Supreme Court decision , La Martiniere School, opened in Calcutta on 1st of March, 1836. The first body of Governors determined what sort of school La Martiniere was to be. Their report, dated 1835, showing exceptional enlightenment for that age, decided that the school should provide a liberal education, in which foundationers as well as day scholars should participate. Twenty poor girls and thirty poor boys were to be chosen from the Christian population of Calcutta and they were to be directly educated and supported from school funds. Other Christian students could be admitted on payment of fees. The main building was then occupied by both boys and girls; the boys being on the eastern, and the girls on the western side. There were iron railings running north and south on both sides of the building, dividing the two departments. Both sexes attended the School Chapel.





Sir Stuart Hogg Market (Hogg's market or Hogg Shaheber bajaar in Bengali) in the year 1945
The market is now called New Market situated on Lindsay Street.

La Martiniere Boys' School, Loudon Street, Calcutta in the year 1906.
An old photo of the New Market, Calcutta showing a meat stall. 
A Vintage picture showing Chowringhee, Esplanade Crossing, Calcutta.
An old picture showing a street in Bowbazar.
1880 Calcutta Municipal Market (Hogg's Market)








A very old picture of Sudder Street probably older than 100 years.
The picture showing The Sudder Court building on the left. The northern side of the Calcutta Museum is on the right. The second building on the left is the Methodist Chapel.
The picture showing Chowranghee Street probably in the 1940's.
                                Fame and fortune have attended Chowranghee Road for nearly three centuries. One of Kolkata's principal arteries, throughout the length of its history it has carried an aura of prestige and importance.

Standard Chartered Bank in Chowranghee. Notice the horse driven carriages standing nearby.
Chowranghee in the year 1798. The Englishmen settled here in the mid-eighteenth century and built magnificent buildings. That is why Calcutta was also known as ''The City of Palaces".   


Chowranghee and Up-to date store in the year 1905.
Also see the Hall and Aderson, G F Kellener, & new (1908) building of the Bengal Club together.



On the eastern side of Esplanade stands a spectacular building in Baroque style, complete with domes, pediments, balconies & clock tower. Known as the Metropolitan Building it once housed Calcutta’s leading departmental stores run by the famous Whiteway, Laidlaw and Co.
Whiteaway, Laidlaw & Co (nicknamed ‘Right-away & Paid-for’ because it operated on cash payments only, no credit) was ‘the’ colonial emporium or department store in India and became a household name throughout the East; it was founded in Calcutta by two eponymous Scotsmen in 1882.
The Whiteway, Laidlaw & Co.’s departmental stores in Calcutta was considered the poshest and classiest department store this side of the Suez.

This elaborate, ‘wedding-cake’ structure was purpose-built by Calcutta-based contractors Mackintosh Burn & Co as the headquarters of Whiteaway, Laidlaw & Co; its architecture, sheer size and prominent corner position were intended to attract buyers to enter its doors. The ground floor and the first floor were occupied by the department store itself. Given the size of the building, the floor space was huge. The second and third floors accommodated offices and apartments; the offices were known as Victoria Chambers.

Galstaun Mansion (renamed Queen's Mansion) in the year 1927.
The Galstaun Mansion is almost an exact copy of a famous building in Paris, also built on a similar corner plot.
When the building was "mortgaged" to Prudential Insurance, the company changed the name to Queen's Mansion.




Thadious Mansions (now Park Mansions), Calcutta
Built on the site of the former Doveton College, this large Edwardian residential block of mansions was erected by TM Thaddeus, the prominent Armenian philanthropist.
Burial Ground Road (now Park Street) in the 1930's, Calcutta.
Park Street has been the recreation zone for Kolkata people since the British era.
It was also the popular foreign tourist spot in Calcutta then and even now.
Spences Hotel (Estd. 1830), Calcutta.
Spence's Hotel (now not in existence) was one of the first hotels in Calcutta, opened in 1830. It was necessitated due to the large numbers of visitors coming to Calcutta from Britain and other parts of India. As the Government encroached on buildings around Government House, Spence's Hotel was moved to another location before eventually being demolished.

Spence's Hotel & St. John's Cathedral, Calcutta, 1858-61
from the Government House (north side)
by John Constantine Stanley (1837-78).
The last photo from the above is a hand-coloured print of Spence's Hotel, Calcutta, from the Fiebig Collection: Views of Calcutta and Surrounding Districts, taken by Frederick Fiebig in 1851. This is a view looking south along Clive Street, with Spence's Hotel on the right and the grounds of Government House on the left.

Early photograph of the Metcalfe Hall in Strand Road. Calcutta.
The Metcalfe Hall was erected as its name imparts to perpetuate the memory of Lord Metcalfe, who officiated as Governor General of India from March 1835 to March 1836. It was originally conceptualised as a Public Library later on housed the Imperial Library.


Metcalfe Hall, Calcutta in the mid-ninteenth century.

The Town Hall, Calcutta - 1860s.
Photograph of the Town Hall from 'Views of Calcutta and Barrakpore' taken by Samuel Bourne in the 1860s. Located on the Esplanade, the Town Hall was built in 1813, east of the High Court, by Colonel John Garstin. This view of the main facade shows the classical style and the Doric portico. The Town Hall overlooks Eden Gardens in the Maidan.



Town Hall, Calcutta - Mid nineteenth century (1857-61)
Calcutta Town Hall in Roman-Doric style, was built by the architect Col. John Garstin in 1813 with a fund of Rupees seven lakhs raised from lottery to provide the Europeans with a place for social gatherings. At first, the hall was placed under a committee, which allowed the public to use the hall under such terms and conditions as were fixed by the Government. The public could visit the ground floor hall to see statues and large size portrait paintings but they were not allowed indiscriminate access to the upper storey. Applications for the use of the upper storey were to be made to the committee. In 1867 Town Hall came under the custody of the Calcutta Municipality (later on Kolkata Municipal Corporation). In the year of 1897 the Town Hall had been partly renovated. After political independence in 1947, Indiscriminate interference with the structure inevitably took its toll. That, at last, has been prevented in 1998 by timely intervention.


Gillander  House, Clive Row, Calcutta- c.a 1870's
Built for the firm of Gillanders, Arbuthnot & Co (1819) - a managing agent for jute mills, collieries, tea estates, railways, building and engineering - it sits in the heart of the British central commercial district of Calcutta.


The arrival of the Czarevitch (an heir apparent of a Russian czar) at Calcutta.



Currency Building, Calcutta in the year 1885.
Currency Building photograph taken in the year 1885.
This is a handsome three storied building, designed in Italian style, the walls were made of brick. Founded in 1833, it at first housed Agra Bank. The building was named as the Currency Building when the Government occupied a large portion of it for its Currency Department in 1868 from the Agra Bank Limited. The roof was arched on iron joist and the floor covered with marble and chunar sandstone. A handsome gate at the entrance in three parts, is of a very florid design in wrought iron. The Central Hall gets sunlight through skylights overtopping the large domes. The Central Hall & a row of exchange counters for notes gold, silver and other change. The Currency office has a vault of a massive masonry lime on its roof, walls and floor. The second floor is similarly designed and the then Assistant Commissioner in-charge of the Currency Building had his residence there. The rooms above are spacious and are paved with Italian marbles.



Bank of Calcutta, later renamed Bank of Bengal (now State Bank of India) - founded 1806.

The Bengal United Service Club (Bengal Club) in Calcutta - 1865

The Bengal Club, Calcutta - old picture.


A Market place probably in Chowringhee, Calcutta.
A street scene in Calcutta in the past. People most probably having a tasty and popular street snack called PHUCHKA in West Bengal and Calcutta. In English it is called watery bread or crisp sphere.
Barrackpore in the mid nineteenth century taken by photographer Francis Frith between 1850's to 1870's.
A busy intersection showing somewhere in the North Calcutta area in the year 1926.
Bus stand near Maidan in the year 1920. Courtesy: Life Magazine.
An old picture of Grand Hotel, Calcutta.

Bengal United Service Club (founded 1845) in the year 1905.
The club is said to be the handsomest and best appointed Club House in the East.