Past life: Kolkata | Monocle

  • Date:November, 2012

Monocle, April 2012

The West Bengali city is at a crossroads. On the one hand Kolkata wants to re-establish the look and feel of its Raj glory days. On the other, it wants to brand itself as a contemporary culture and business gate- way, open to the east.

With its wide tree-lined streets flanked by gracefully deteriorating colonial-era architecture, the eastern Indian city of Kolkata evokes intense memories of another part of the world that is at once close and far away: London.

Kolkata is like a sub-continental, Dickensian otherworld. The city’s old buildings have crenellated façades pock- marked by patches of peeling paint. There are Victorian fountains, the rambling Alipore Zoo and roundabouts. Indeed, city planners conceived Calcutta – as it was then known – as a kind of mini London. The city was the colonial headquarters of Raj-era india and the jewel in the crown of Britain’s empire. It was renamed in 2001 but to locals it’s still known affectionately as “Cal”.

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