Every time I visit this city, there’s a new face I get introduced to. I come back with much enthusiasm that one day I will settle where my roots are, but the thought that the roots might not look the same, kind of scare me. The Colonial Kolkata that I am referring to has been of interest to many be it historians, or writers, or just a mere traveler like me. The city imposes just the right juxtapositions on you.
As I pass those crumbling houses, standing tall colonial pillars, the larger than life red colour buildings, they are all a reflection of Bengal renaissance are just barely any other building with not much attention that it gets. Even today the most crowded neighbourhoods in Kolkata sees the double storey buildings designed in the typical architectural pattern of large pillars and shuttered or the Jaali windows that can be manually opened and closed. I noticed that another feature common to these houses were the red oxidised stone floors and the larger than life French-style windows. The door knobs were also a piece of art in themselves.
Though there are just few left in the city, but those owning them have held them close to their heart is and as you walk pass them it’s no less than a talking a walk around museum. Reflecting city’s history over the period of time these buildings happen to be an excellent example of the culture and lifestyle that existed then. They reflect the city’s real chromosomes.
The aristocratic mansions in Kolkata can mostly be seen in the Bhowanipore, Sarat Bose Road, Lake Road, Southern Avenue, Hindustan Park, Bakul Bagan, Girish Park, Kumurtuli, Jorashonkho and more. This time walking along the Prinsep Ghat, the whole piece of architecture is rich in Greek and Gothic inlays. Calcutta or Kolkata as it’s also sees a lot of Indo-Saracenic or neo-Gothic style of architecture, very distinct to the city and rarely seen in any other city in the country
Kolkata today is a perfect example of old blending with new. This British created city even today stands tall depicting the Bengali renaissance period. The Bengali-European style still enchants one and all. So why not make an effort to walk thee beauties one day as you touch and feel your city closer to you.
Few examples of this architecture are :-
Marble Palace- The 19th century mansion in North Kolkata, is known for its marble walls and floor. Based on Neoclassical in style of architecture, the 3 storied palace sees Corinthian pillars and ornamented verandas along with two paintings by Rubens, two paintings by Sir Joshua Reynolds, The Infant Hercules Strangling and other eminent pieces.
General Post Office – Another beauty from British Era, the structure was constructed by Walter B. Grenville in 1864. Known for its tall Ionic-Corinthian pillars and high domed roof, the place also houses a postal museum.
Raj Bhavan – Constructed around 1799 and 1803, this is the seat of the Governor of the state. This monument had the first ever elevator in the city. The architecture and the decor will leave you totally surprised.
Kolkata Town Hall – Build with the aim for social gatherings, the Town Hall is built in the Roman Doric architectural style.
Metropolitan Building – Earlier known as the Whiteway Laidlaw department store, the clock towers, arched windows and the domes all represents the shopping arcade during British era. After independence it was owned by Metropolitan Life Insurance Co.
Writers Building – One of the most important landmark of European architecture, the building then served then served as the government agency for British East India Company and now serves as the secretariat of the state.