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British legacy of 15 streets in kolkata: a heritage walk into the epoch of imperialism and enlightenmentSaptami Ghosh

The roads of the city Kolkata has been the creator of the History itself. The highways of the city were once only walkable for the humans, the roadside used to be the home of wild animals. Later, according to the need, the roads had started to develop, so was the city. The oldest street of the city was assumed to be the Chitpur Road. Chitpur Road was named after the Chiteswari Temple, which was destroyed in an Earthquake of 1737. This road used to link the North Kolkata with the Kalighat of South Kolkata, the place of Goddess Kali.
The city Kolkata was created by the British Empire. A British gentleman and employee of East India Company, Jobas Charnock was believed to be the main creator of the city Kolkata. The three main Villages named Sutanuti, Kolkata, and Gobindapur were combined to create the city Kolkata. The Chitpur road had existed before the creation of the original city. This road was even named, ‘The road to Pilgrimage’ by the British people. After the creation of the city, this road has transformed into a main road of the city. The rich and aristocratic crowd started to live beside this road. The other main roads like Circular Road was stretched beside the river Ganges, it was created after changing the plan to dig a long lake which was to connect the Northern part of the city with the South. The main roads of the ancient Kolkata had divided or renamed over time. The heritage streets of the city still has their unique charm, some of them bearing interesting history of the past.

Park Street

For the people of Kolkata, the party always starts at the Park Street. This road is the home of the numerous restaurants, some of them being the traditional fine dining restaurants of Kolkata. Before 250 years ago, this road was known as the Burial Ground Road, as the road led into the South Park Street Cemetery. The first building of this street was the elementary building of Asiatic society, founded by Sir William Jones and created by the architect Captain Lock. The first nightclub of Independent India, Mocambo is located on this street.
The first departmental store of Indian Subcontinent, Hall & Anderson was also based in this street. Park Street had soon become the area for the rich and famous. It was once believed that only rich and famous had dared to walk in this street, seen in this street was described as a status symbol. The road also houses the traditional old restaurants of the city, like Trincas, Waldorf etc. Trincas had given birth to the Pop stars like Usha Uthoop. The name of the Park Street had derived from the famous Park Hotel. It was the first hotel of Park Hotel chain. In the year 2012, the street was renamed as Mother Teresa Sarani. Till today, Park Street is the favorite place of the young crowd, especially in the time of Christmas and New Year.

Lindsay Street

As a modern metropolitan city, Kolkata is glittered by the modern Supermarkets, fashionable Shopping Malls and all sorts of modern ways of shopping. Yet, the traditional markets like New Market, Gariahat market has never lost their charm. The Lindsay Street is located just beside the Hogg Market, the first Supermarket of the city. The traditional Hogg Market is adjacent to the Lindsay Street. This market is nearly 140 years old, which had offered the grocery, food items, clothing, and other necessary goods under one roof for the first time in the city. Over 2000 shops and stalls are crammed in the maze-like structure of this market. The old Gothic architecture of the red-yellow bricks and the old clock tower is still intact till date. Lindsay Street connects the New Market with the Municipal market. The name of the Lindsay Street has arrived from this Municipal market, which is named after the British gentleman Robert Lindsay

Sudder Street

The main appeal of Sudder Street is definitely being the heaven for the backpackers from all over the world. Along with the cheap accommodations, every kind of Continental foods is available in this area at a very decent price. Kolkata is one of the very famous gateways of the backpackers, as it is located very close to Nepal, Bhutan, and Sikkim. For a long time, this part of the city is ignored and avoided by the middle class and aristocratic crowd of the city.
Previously this road used to be called Speke Road, after an English gentleman Mr. Speke. Mr. Speke used to live in the building of the Imperial Museum. He had built a tank on the ground of his house which had included the Kyd Street Tank. He intended to use the tank for private use, thus, he had built a wall around this Jhinjherrie Talao. The public also had the right to use the water body, which had led them to rebel. He was attacked by a Sikh gentleman in his own house. Later he had donated his house to the Government for Sudder Dewanny Court, and the name of the street had also got changed.

Mirza Galib Street

Previously known as Free School Street, the street named Mirza Galib Street joins the famous Park Street with the S N Banerjee road, Sudder Street, Lindsay Street etc. Park Street is the important street that houses the traditional fine dining restaurants, oldest pubs with modern nightclubs. It is located very close to the traditional new market and other important parts of central Kolkata. One of the main connecters of Park Street and New Market is none other than the Mirza Galib Street.
For the close proximity of the Park Street and Sudder Street, this street is famous among the foreign tourists. The street is famous for various kinds of shops that are essentially unique in nature. From the Kashmiri carpets to shawl—the rare bookstore to musical equipment, all sorts of special items are available in this place. The famous shop for the musical equipment, Braganza, is also based in this street. Mirza Ghalib was an Urdu and Persian poet of Mughal era. He had traveled to Kolkata during 1820’s. He had fallen for Kolkata due to its lush greenery, beautiful girls, fresh fruits, and wines. The name Mirza Galib Street was given in the honor of this exceptionally talented poet and his love for the city. Previously, the name Free School Street, which had derived from a free school located in this area.

Indira Gandhi Sarani

Indira Gandhi Sarani, which was known as the Red Road, connects the famous Fort Willam with the Raj Bhavan. From the era of British Raj, this road has been serving as the parade ground of the city. This road had taken very important part in the independence in India. As this road is connected with the Famous Fort William, it has witnessed a fair share of the tussle between the army and the freedom fighters. Every now and then, tunnels are discovered which was used for the purpose of the secret movement of the rebels.
During the World Wars, this road was even used as the landing strip for the fighter aircraft. The red road was constructed in the year 1820, and it is still used as the Parade ground during the republic day and the Independence Day. In the year 2016, a special parade was organized by the Government of Bengal during the Durga Puja. All the famous Durga idols of the city were showcased in this parade before their immersion.

Jawaharlal Nehru road

The street named Jawaharlal Nehru road was previously called as Chowringhee Road. Chowringhee Road bears a history of prestige and sophistication, especially during the British Raj. This road connects the famous Dharmatala area with various attractions of the city, like Maidan, Indian Museum, Victoria Memorial and surrounding area. In the era of British Raj, Chowringhee Road was the favorite place of the British lord and ladies to discover in their elegant horse drawn carriages. The road was also popular for the aristocratic Bengali crowd for spending leisure time.
The history of the road can be traced back to the Cherangi Village, which was named after the sage Chourangi Giri. The sage Chourangi Giri had seen the image of Goddess Kali in his dream, which had led the creation of famous Kali Temple of Kolkata. Till 18th Century, the area around Chowringhee Road was filled with dense forest; it is believed that Lord Warren Hastings used to hunt tigers in this jungle. Till today, the Jawaharlal Nehru road is maintaining its glory, as it connects the city with some of the main streets like Park Street, Lindsay Street, Sudder Street.


Loudon Street

Loudon Street was named after the Countess of Loudoun, who was the wife of Marquis of Hastings. The named of Lady Hastings used to spell Loudoun, but the ‘u’ had vanished gradually over time. This street is located very close to Park Street in the central Kolkata. This street is located around one of the elite areas of Kolkata. The nature park based on this road is a place to unwind in between the busiest part of the city. In the year 1967, this street was renamed after the great doctor U N Bramhachari and had become the U N Bramhachari Sarani. Dr. U N Bramhachari was a fellow of Society of Tropical Medicine and he had invented the Urea Stibamine. He was awarded knighthood in the year 1934.
This street is adjacent to the famous Robinson Street, which has gained popularity for housing the horror house, where a gentleman named Parta De had lived with the corpse of his dead sister, father and their pet dogs for a couple of months.

Camac Street

The name Camac Street brings mix feelings amongst the citizens of the city Kolkata. Essentially the area around Camac Street is known as the habitat of the high-rise buildings which houses some of the important business segments of Kolkata. A part of Camac Street is always crowded by the various fast food stalls, roadside teashop. Along with that, this place is also glittered by more than one branded stores, old and famous shopping centers, cafes & pubs. This is one of the places of the city where people of Kolkata ‘Work hard and party hard.’ In one side, Camac Street connects legendary Park Street along with the other important streets, like Theatre Road, Ho Chi Minh Sarani etc.
Historically the name Camac Street has derived from the name of a British Merchant, William Camac. William Camac was a senior merchant in the age of Lord Cornwallis and Lord Wellesley. Another British civil servant Sir Stuart Saunders Hogg used to reside in this street. He was responsible for the foundation of the famous Hogg Market, which was the first departmental store of the city.

College Street

The street is mostly famous for the largest second-hand book market of Asia. Stretched around 1.5 km in the Central Kolkata, this street holds some of the important Historic parts of the city. Like its name, College Street holds the educative crowd of the city. The old and historic schools like Hare School, Hindu School along with the legendary Presidency College, the main campus of the Calcutta University are the jewels that shine in this street. Stepping in the college street is like stepping into the world of the books.
The oldest and the most traditional café, The Indian Coffee House is located on this street. The name College Street was given during 1817, honoring the birth of the Hindu College. This college was set up by David Hare, in order to provide the liberal education to the Hindu Children of the city. The first medical College of the India, Calcutta Medical College is also located at this road. This road had even given birth to the first Naxalite Movement of Bengal.

Amherst Street

Located in the North part of the city, this street is a very much part of North and Aristocratic Kolkata. Previously, it was called Alms House Street for the famous Alms house. Alms house was established by Bengali Merchant Motilal Seal. Motilal Seal was a leading businessman of the 19th Century. At the Alms house, over 500 people used to be fed on a daily basis at that time. Together with another Bengali Shipping Tycoon Ramdulal Sarkar, Motilal Seal was called the merchant princes of Bengal. In the year 1865, the name of this street had changed into Amherst Street from Alms House Street.

It was named after Lord William Amherst, the Ex-Governor General, British Diplomat and colonial administrator of India. Amherst Street is the hub of renowned educational centers, like North City College, St Pauls College etc. The house no 85 of Amherst Street was the home of Raja Ram Mohon Roy. Raja Ram Mohon Roy was the revolutionary founder of Brahmo Samaj, which had shown the India a new ray of light, fighting the way through the superstition. At the year 1968, the street was named as Raja Ram Mohan Roy Sarani in the honor of this revolutionary hero.

Mahatma Gandhi Road

Mahatma Gandhi Road is a very important road which has connected the famous Sealdah area with the better parts of north Kolkata. Sealdah is famous for being one of the most important stations of the Kolkata. M G Road mainly connects Sealdah with the other important station, Howrah. It is one of the roads that remains congested during the whole day. Some of the important parts of Kolkata are based on the side of this road. Like, the large book-market of Kolkata located in College Street will come first on the journey towards Howrah. Then, the wholesale fruit market is located on the side of M G Road. After that, the largest wholesale market Burrabazar will come on the way. Previously, this road was called the Harrison road. The Harrison road used to be the very popular road for the riots and protests during the freedom movement. This was also the road which was lighted by Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation for the first time in Kolkata.

Jessore Road

Located in the far northern part of the city, Jessore Road is an important road which had connected the North Kolkata with the important areas like Dumdum, Dunlop etc. The name Jessore has come from the famous district of the Bangladesh, Jessore. This road was supposed to be extended till the Jessore of Bangladesh before partition. Nowadays, it is the main link between the Northen Suburbs of the city and the North Kolkata. Before 2013, the road was very famous for the roadside trees, which used to keep the road cool even in the dangerous heat of the summer. The trees were planted over 200 years ago, by the royal family of Jessore. Over the years, almost 50% trees were stolen by the illegal timber traders. After that, due to the need of widening the road, the trees were cut. Thousands of rare and even migratory birds became homeless due to the act of modernization of the traditional Jessore road.

Lalbazaar

The beautiful and wide road is located in the colonial part of Kolkata. This part of the Kolkata is bejeweled by the old colonial architecture, from the era of British Raj at Kolkata. The street Lalbazaar is mostly famous for the headquarters of Kolkata police. The building which houses headquarter of Kolkata police originally belonged to a gentleman named John Palmer.
John Palmer was one of the richest businessmen of old Kolkata. Apart from being one of the richest businessmen, he was very charitable. He had donated all his money and became bankrupt in the last phase of his life. Beside the headquarter, there were a gorgeous building named Harmonic Tavern. In the era of British Raj, this building used to host gorgeous balls, concerts, formal dinners for the upper crust of the society. Later this building had to be taken down for various reasons. Adjacent to the Lalbazar, in the Portuguese Church Street there is the Portuguese Church which is dedicated to Our Blessed Lady of the Rosary.

Strand Road

The large part of this road is located on the bank of Hoogly River, which is separating the twin city Howrah from Kolkata. Strand road connects the Fort William with the other parts of the Kolkata, extending till the second Hoogly Bridge. Some of the beautiful Ghats (Riverbanks) of the city are located in the stretch of this road, like the Princep Ghat, Babu Ghat, Outram Ghat etc. The history of this road can be traced far back. During 1862, separate experimental roads were created by the stone in the Strand road, to check the capacity of holding the heavy vehicles. The project remained incomplete due to heavy cost. In early 20th Century, this road was heavy use by bullock carts and horse-drawn carriages.
Thus, the road used to get damaged very easily. Around 1914-15, the architect firm Barn Company had started to use Wire-Cut-Brick process to build roads. In this process, the base of the roads was built by the cement. For the sustainable road for the heavy vehicles, the Granolithic Paving system had been invented and had been used to build a large part of the strand road.

Raja SC Mullick road

Located in the southern part of the city, Raja SC Mullick road is a road that connects Gariahat road and Prince Anwar Shah Road with the extreme South part of the city, Garia. The street named Raja SC Mullick road is the extended part of the Gariahat Road, which connects the important areas like Gariahat, Golpark etc with the rest of the South Kolkata. Raja SC Mullick road is famous for the elusive Jadavpur University campus. It is located in the starting point of the road from the side of the Jadavpur Police Station. Jadavpur University is a Public State university, with around 12 km of Campus spread over the Raja SC Mullick road. This road was previously known as Lady Willingdon Road.

Images copyrights @ Indiatweets

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