Encounters 1: Discovering Kolkata (by Turni Dhar)

I was Born in South Calcutta and did my schooling and college from Park Circus and Park Street and that got me snooty.  I always pulled up my nose when it came to North Calcutta but it was Heritage Walk Calcutta who changed my entire perception. I realized the essence of Kolkata lies here, history is in every nook and corner of North Calcutta and doing these walks with Tathagata and Sarbajit from Heritage Walk Calcutta compounded my love for the history of Kolkata. My camera started preserving all the lovely sights I came across. Who knew that a walk in the cemetery can open up to so much of information. I realized Satyajit Ray had written a story based on the South Park Street Cemetery and how interesting it was.

St. John’s Church

I saw St. John’s Church, South Park Street Cemetery, College Street and actually saw the mess-bari (boarding house) where Saradindu Bandyopadhyay resided and the story of Byomkesh was conceived. I saw the sadly dilapidated building where Sukumar Ray was born and couldn’t control my tears as it has already drawn the attention of a (real estate) builder. Along the Chitpore Road in North Calcutta, I saw Madanmohan Tala and marveled when I saw the deity of Madanmohan. I also saw the Black Pagoda, right across the street from Madanmohan Tala. Trust me, now Kolkata seems more familiar, more beautiful and more dear to me.


Saradindu Bandyopadhyay’s mess-bari
Madanmohan Tala
Sukumar Ray was born in this house. This seems to have been given away for real estate development of late.

I am an ardent Ray fan and Aparajito is an all time favorite movie. Who can forget Apu’s (the protagonist) journey to realize his dreams and his struggle in a city yet he doesn’t give up. He dares to dream big and wants to carve a niche for himself and above all he doesn’t give up. I think there is a trace of Apu in all of us and films like this somewhere become synonymous with our lives. Haven’t we all left our comfort zones and ventured out to give reality to our dreams? Sarbajaya’s (mother of Apu) wait for his son to come and visit her is now a regular story in most of the households in Kolkata. I tried to locate the place where the movie was shot in Kolkata. So Sarbajit of Heritage Walk Calcutta took me to the actual location where Apu of Aparajito resided.



The movie shows the location as Patuatola Lane which derives its name from being the quarter of painters or Patuas. This narrow alleyway connects Surya Sen Street with MG Road. This area between College Street and Sealdah Railway Station had a large number of boarding houses catering to the outstation students. The writer Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay resided in one of the boarding houses when he was a teacher at Khelat Ghosh Memorial School in Esplanade. Apu, the protagonist of his celebrated novel Pather Panchali and Aparajito too stayed in one of the boarding houses here when he came to Kolkata to pursue higher studies. I really loved the way Heritage Walk Calcutta figured the actual location where the movie was shot, it was like a dream come true.



As our dear Feluda had said:

“to know a city one has to walk around and discover everything , else the city seems very distant and unfamiliar “

I adhere to Feluda’s sayings and my walks with Tathagata and Sarbajit have made me familiar with my city. Now I read about the history of Kolkata, Google about the stories and every time I am eager to soak in more. All this has given rise to my Facebook page Kolkatar Katha which is rapidly gaining popularity.

About the Author: Turni Dhar is the National Sales Manager for an imported wine company. After getting her education in Kolkata, she spent 16 years in Mumbai and a year and a half in Gurgaon, before moving back to Kolkata again. Turni is a Bengali at heart and idolizes Satyajit Ray, loves Uttam Kumar and Kishore Kumar. She has a penchant for traveling and is passionate about photography. Turni is currently in love with Kolkata’s history. She regularly writes about Kolkata’s history on her own facebook page Kolkatar Katha.

Disclaimer: All images (except the one from Aparajito) used in this post are clicked and owned by the author. 

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