Saturday, April 6, 2019

SHIV NANDY - WILLIAM SHAUGHNESSY ... The Bengali-Irish pair behind the First Electric Telegraph Line !!

Burrabazar, the commercial nucleus of Kolkata, is like a labyrinth to anyone who is not familiar with its lanes and bylanes. Stretching from the Ganesh Talkies in the north to the BBD Bag in the south and from the C R Avenue in the east to the Howrah Bridge in the west, the approximate one area probably records the highest footfall in a day than any other location of the City. But unlike the rest of Kolkata, the names of the lanes and by-lanes do not really matter here. Most of the people visiting Burrabazar used to acquaint themselves with the commodity or building based demarcations viz. the different sub-markets (patti) like Sonapatti, Tulapatti, Masalapatti or buildings (katra meaning roadside inn or colonnaded structure in Arabic/Persian) housing specific products, like Raja Katra, Manohar Das Katra, Sadasukh Katra etc. A majority of the pathways with their names are now in oblivion. Shiv Nandy Lane in Posta near Ganesh Talkies is one such by-lane. 

It would be a bit of an exaggeration to say that I went hunting down this lane for my story. But in fact, I accidentally came across the alley while researching for another story of mine. I was in Chitpore, Ganesh Talkies, shooting the Adi Brahmo Samaj house near Jorasanko Thakurbari gateway. Suddenly, on the opposite footpath, a street name plate intrigued me - 'Shiv Thakur Lane'. Bound with a curiosity and a hope to find another derelict century old Shiva Temple, I entered the hardly 3 ft. wide alley. After a few yards, it opens up to a rather wide lane, making me to continue my quest. Though I did not find the temple but another street name plate suddenly tickled my memory - 'Shiv Nandy Lane', the name itself seemed to be quite familiar to my mind. A quick googling revealed the mention of this name in Amitabha Gupta's blog post about Optical TelegraphShiv Nandy or Shiv Chandra Nandy was the Bengali man behind the first electric telegraph line in India, more than a century ago

Wanderlust decided to go on exploring...

Saturday, April 28, 2018

CALCUTTA KARMA GON BUDDHIST MONASTERY … A Sanctuary amid the Concrete Jungle!

Calcutta has always rolled the red carpet for the people belonging to different religions. Communities with diversified religious beliefs co-existed here for centuries, making the City of Joy a melting pot of cultures. That’s why it’s not very uncommon to find a Christian Church in a Muslim neighborhood or a Jewish cemetery in a predominantly Hindu locality. Unlike any other city of India, Calcutta is packed with mosques, synagogues and churches, apart from the temples belonging to various religions. So when we discovered a Buddhist monastery, while roaming around the streets of South Calcutta on a Sunday morning and that too in a predominantly Non-Bengali locality, it didn’t surprise us at all. Ultimately it is the cultural capital of India.
- Abhijit & Subhabrata

Abhijit & Subhabrata, the explorer duo and long-time friends of mine, have a habit of traversing through the veins of Calcutta, to discover something new. This time they find and dig up the history of a only-of-its-kind religious shrine from the City. Read on, they write for WANDERLUST...

Saturday, July 16, 2016

ST. JOHN'S CHURCH ... where History lies in every corner !!

The objective of my blog is to 'know the unknown' but is it always necessarily be an unknown structure or a place, couldn't it be a well-known monument with little-known or unknown history? That sounds a bit contradictory, right? If it's well-known then how come the history is unknown? Well, it could be ...

These days the heritage structures of the City are used to get a lot of attention due to variety of reasons. The Raj era edifices are regularly featured in print and visual media through the works of bloggers, photographers, journalists, film makers and tour operators. One such popular destination is St. John's Church, situated in the office-para, BBD Bag. Though much have already been written about the Church, a lot are yet to be covered.

WANDERLUST presents before you the St. John's Church, with many never-before-read detail, through its most elaborate post till date ...

P.S. St. John's Church also holds a secret for a long time. A hidden tomb of a significant person, which you will encounter, for the first time, through this post. Read till the end to unearth the secret ... 

Monday, March 7, 2016


The title might sound familiar but this post has nothing to do with the Amish Tripathi's Shiva Trilogy, the best-selling mythological fiction series in India.

The article is about three, century old Shiva Temples of Calcutta, surviving through years of ignorance and atmospheric erosion while serving hundreds of devotees everyday. In fact though I named this post a Trilogy and planned three consecutive articles but in future it can easily and certainly be extended to form either a tetralogy or a pentalogy or even a decalogy, considering the number of significant shrines in the City !!

Hindu Temples in the City are a common sight now-a-days but an inevitable question is: How old are they? Various sources suggest that few of the City shrines dates back to Job Charnock or probably before that. Prosperity of a religious shrine always depends upon the people surrounding it and Calcutta was no exception. People used to inhabit Calcutta (or more specifically Sutanuti, Kolikata and Gobindapur) since the early seventeenth century, long before Job Charnock settled here. Lord Shiva and various forms of his consort Parvati, were the most worshipped divine entities. It was almost customary that the ancient rich and aristrocratic families of the City establish temples of Lord Shiva, either in their residences or in the locality or on the bank of river Ganges. In the year 1856, there were 24 Shiva temples in Calcutta compared to only 5 temples of goddess Kali, a popular form of Parvati.

This trilogy is an attempt to uncover the past of three ancient Shiva Temples of North Calcutta, situated within a radius of 1 km but almost unknown beyond its daily visitors.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

BIDHAN SABHA BHAWAN - W.B. LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY HOUSE ... Witness to the Debates & Power Shifts !!

Which iconic structure is situated to the east of Calcutta High Court, west of Raj Bhawan, south of Town Hall and north of Eden Gardens? ... The question would surely baffle any Calcuttan for a moment. I am not generalising but here are some replies from the people I know -
  • 'আরে, আমি বুঝেছি ... ওই সাদা বাড়িটা ... নামটা মাথায় আসছে না ...' ('I got it ... that white building ... I just can't remember the name ...')
  • 'ওই যেখানে সব নেতারা বসে ... পার্লামেন্ট এর মতই ... কি বলে মনে পড়ছেনা ...' ('The seat of the ministers ... like Parliament ... can't get the name ...')

Now, why this unexpected ignorance? Multiple reasons could be there but the most prominent one is certainly its location. Isolated by high railings and mature trees, it stands well away from public scrutiny, unlike Raj Bhawan. Among the three most important government buildings of the City, Assembly House comes third when public awareness is concerned (other two are Writers' Building & Raj Bhawan). It is actually this unawareness that has prompted me to write an article on the edifice.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

SHAHEED MINAR ... OCHTERLONY MONUMENT ... the Oldest Calcutta Icon !!

Every great City has its own icons. One or more architectural marvel/s that define/s the exclusivity of the location. Taj Mahal indicates Agra, Charminar to Hyderabad, Eiffel Tower to Paris, Colosseum to Rome and many more. Calcutta is also not an exception. Though the City is much younger in age compared to the above examples, but the City of Joy indeed has an unique character and obviously some splendid icons. 

Ask any random Calcuttan about five architectures which he thinks define our City. I can bet, the answer will definitely include the following three: Victoria Memorial, Howrah Bridge and Shaheed Minar. While the former two has not yet been 100 years old, Shaheed Minar is on the verge of completing two centuries of existence.

Though the catchline of my blog states 'Know the Unknown' but WANDERLUST decided to explore this widely recognised tall beauty as there are no detailed article on internet about Calcutta's very own 'Monument', except wikipedia !! (at least as on the date of article).

Saturday, January 2, 2016

SANSKRIT COLLEGE & PANDIT PREMCHANDRA TARKABAGISH ... An Invaluable Chapter of Sanskrit Literature !!

Kolkata International Book Fair is organized every year for a period of approximately 13 days. But if you are a book worm or atleast a book lover or in need of some academic material, then there is a book fair in Kolkata which runs throughout the year. It is in our very own 'Boipara' - College Street. The area is associated to academics for more than two centuries and consists of some finest institutions of this country. Sanskrit College is one of them. Unlike the name suggests, the college doesn't only offer Sanskrit language but provides an array of Oriental academic courses for more than 190 years now. 

Many stalwart academicians were associated with this college in the past. Pandit Premchandra Tarkabagish was one such name. He was one of the greatest Sanskrit scholars of 19th century and actively contributed in Bengal Renaissance. I get to know about him while doing a story on 'Widow Remarriage' and later a meet with his descendant Mr. Biswanath Chattopadhyay, intrigued me to explore the scholar in depth.

On 2nd January, 2016, Sanskrit College turns 192 years. WANDERLUST decides to explore its centuries old legacy along with a biographical sketch of Pandit Tarkabagish.