Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Bathgate & Co., Camac Street & Ballygunge Circular Road

The first time I heard the name Bathgate & Co. was when I asked my mother about the dilapidated building that once housed my Kindergarten school. That was the name originally associated with building, she said. Thus, my digging began. I present to you here, information that I have gathered through countless hours of internet trawling. Because, in spite of the fact that Bathgate & Co. were Calcutta’s very first chemists, there is no book or website dedicated to their history.

The root encrusted walls of Bathgate & Co's Ballygunge Dispensary

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Rumi Darwaza, Lucknow

Standing on the old Hardoi Road, the Rumi Darwaza (also spelt Roomi Darwaza) is one of the most well-known icons of the city of Lucknow. Like the Howrah Bridge and Victoria Memorial for Calcutta (Kolkata), the Rumi Darwaza serves as the logo for Lucknow in posters and other visual communication. It is another architectural gem that was built under the patronage of Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula by his favourite architect, Kifayatullah. Kifayatullah, as you may know was the man behind Lucknow’s Bada Imambara.

Rumi Darwaza - Western Face

Friday, 16 January 2015

Nawaab Saadat Ali Khan's Tomb, Lucknow

The ornate tombs of Nawaab Saadat Ali Khan II and his wife Khursheed Zadi (or Mursheed Zadi) are two of the principal attractions of the Qaisar Bagh area of the city of Lucknow. Nawaab Saadat Ali Khan II was the 6th king in the Nishapuri line that ruled the province of Oudh or Awadh, and ascended the throne 21st January 1798. He is responsible for many of the heritage buildings still to be found between the Qaisar Bagh and Dilkusha areas of Lucknow.

Tomb of Nawaab Saadat Ali Khan II

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Nizam Palace and the Legend of J.C. Galstaun

Before it was acquired by the Nizam of Hyderabad, the building known today as Nizam Palace was the home of one man, Calcutta’s Armenian millionaire, Johannes Carapiet “J.C.” Galstaun. It was an art deco palace, designed for his beloved wife Rose Catherine. The man, his immense wealth, and his “many acts of kindness” are the stuff of legends. In this first guest post on the blog, Max Galstaun writes about his illustrious ancestor.

Nizam Palace today

The legend of J.C. Galstaun, businessman, sportsman, Calcutta's biggest real estate developer of all time, philanthropist and social worker - is a legend that stands unequalled in Calcutta history. Like most legends, the story has a humble beginning, with a young, 13 or 14 year old, Armenian lad from Julpha, Iran, learning to ride a piebald pony on the Maidan. His determination impressed the Fort William Cavalry officers and they gave JC early lessons in horse-riding, which grew into the most formidable talent not ever seen again, on the racecourses in Calcutta and England. The pony rider struck fear into bookmakers and horse owners of Royal Indian and British blood.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Chetla Chhoto Rashbari, 93 Tollygunge Road

Chetla Chhoto Rashbari - interior

Hiding behind the busy market on Tollygunge Road, at number 93 is the elaborate temple complex known to locals as the Chhoto Rashbari (also spelt Rasbari, Ras Bari, Rashbadi or Rash Badi) or minor house for the Rash festival. What was once the Govindpore Creek, became Surman’s Nullah after John Surman of the East India Company started living there. It would then come to be known as Tolly’s Nullah after Major William Tolly conducted dredging and excavating operations there between 1774 and 1777, making it navigable upto Garia. Indeed the entire area of Tollygunge gets its name from him. But for locals, this is the Adi Ganga or the original Ganges, since it was through here that the Ganges or Hooghly flowed before it changed its course. The Ganges being a holy river, all along the two roads on its East and West, Tollygunge Road and Chetla Road, ghats and temples may still be found. Like many other heritage structures in the Chetla area of South Calcutta, the Chhoto Rashbari is also neglected, overgrown, and other than local residents, few are aware of its existence.