My city of Calcutta (Kolkata) has seen many heritage walks and heritage bus tours but on 16th of October 2016, I myself and this old city of mine witnessed something for the very first time. Oxford Bookstore one of the city’s heritage landmark and also a bookstore arranged the first ever Literary Heritage Bus Tour along with Patra Bharati under the banner of Apeejay Bangla Sahitya Utsob. LetUsGo was the Heritage Tour partner for the festival providing vital infrastructure making this a truly comfortable bus tour.
This is the second year of Apeejay Bangla Sahitya Utsob and this year a special bus tour was organised for selected bloggers and the press media who were taken on a tour of city’s literary landmarks.
The bus tour started from Apeejay House, Park Street at around 2 P.M. in the afternoon. Initially, only one bus was arranged but looking at the positive response from the media and bloggers additionally another bus was also organised to take the participants on this wonderful journey across the city.
The first stop for the day was Police Museum, 113, Acharya Prafulla Chandra Roy Road. On the way, the participants were first welcomed by Mr Swagat Sengupta (CEO, Oxford Bookstores) who gave a brief about this year’s event and also informed that unlike last year which was just a single day affair would be held for two days. Mr Tridib Chatterjee from Parta Bharati next informed about the delegates and the programmes that this year’s festival was supposed to have.
Famous blogger and heritage enthusiasts Mr Rangan Dutta was the tour leader, he had carefully planned the tour to cover few of the important landmarks in the city when it comes to literature. Unfortunately, due to the ongoing Durga Puja vacations most of the points were closed but nevertheless the trip was planned to cover important landmark points.
Police Museum the first stop of the day was always not a museum but the home of very famous Raja Ram Mohan Roy who lived in this very house from 1814 to 1830. Later on this house was the spot where Sukea Street Police Station was located but later in the year 1928 the station was shifted to Amherst Street becoming the Amherst Street Police Station and this building became the office and residence of Deputy Commissioner of Police (North Division).
This was the place where the press and the bloggers were informed by the host about the festival. We had eminent author Sr. Ranjan Bandhopadhyay with us who gave us a brief about the history of the literature of Bengal and the important of Raja Ram Mohan Roy in it.
Photography is prohibited inside the museum and guests needs to just sign the register and see the collection of artefacts like ammunition, seized historical objects, photographs, and equipment’s used by the police etc. One of the very important objects amongst these is the bomb that was dropped by the Japanese during World War Two in Calcutta. The bomb did not go off and only the shell is on the display.
Right behind the museum there is an interactive section where you can try your hands on fingerprinting, breathe analysis etc. This place also has a small canteen at the back thus you can refresh yourself out here.
Out here the bloggers were in for a treat as we were given a sumptuous snacks courtesy First Flush. Club sandwiches, cupcakes, cutlets etc. were just the right thing at the right time as all this walking made us all really hungry.
The next stop for the day was Ram Mohan Library, this place is just diagonally opposite to Police Museum. One interesting fact that one should know from the very beginning is that this was not the original Ram Mohan Library but the second one. The original Ram Mohan Library was established in 1904 and in 1909 became Ram Mohan Library & Free Reading Room. It’s only in 1913 that the library shifted to this current building.
This building has a hall and a museum on the ground floor, the hall is very significant as Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore was felicitated here after winning the Nobel Prize in literature. The museum has artefacts relating to Raja Ram Mohan Roy. In the first floor, we have the library with a good collection of books, especially Bengali.
The next stop for the day’s tour was at Garpar Road at the famous house which once belonged to Upendrakishore Ray Chowdhury and Sukumar Ray. This was also the house where legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray was born but moved out at a very young age of five.
This is the very building where Upendrakishore Ray Chowdhury started a printing press (U. Ray and Sons) in the year 1895.This press printed famous publications such as Abol Tabol and Sandesh. The press ceased into existence in the year 1926. At present, this building houses a school.
Our next stop for the day was Vidyasagar Smriti Mandir the house of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar the pioneer in Bengali literature, education etc. The modern Bengali alphabets were an absolute his contribution. The much-renovated house is where he stayed until his death. The house now has a museum on the ground floor. Rest of the building operates as an Open University study point.
The last stop for the day was at Bangiya Sahitya Parishad. This institute which was then named Bengal Academy of Literature was established in the year 1893 by Kshetrapal Chakraborty and L. Leotard. The main intention of this institute was to promote Bengali language and literature. In the year 1894, the name was changed to Bangiya Sahitya Parishad.
The present building was not the place of inception but was acquired in the year 1908 and shifted here. This place once saw eminent personalities such as Rabindranath Tagore, Nabin Chandra Sen, Romesh Chandra Datt, etc. as a member. This building is a library cum a museum with artefacts such as the table once used by Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar.
By now it was getting dark and after a quick group photo, the bus then took as back to Park Street at Oxford Bookstore where the Heritage Literary Bus Tour ended.
The tour ended but not the festival as this was just the prelude to the main event which is slated to take place on 21 – 22 October 2016. See you there.
Location of All the Important Landmarks Visited During the Tour
Click here to open the Google Maps link