A History of Calcutta's Streets (With New Photographs)
|Author:||P. Thankappan Nair|
|Publisher:||Punthi Pustak, Kolkata|
|Pages:||1035 (B/W Illustrations)|
|Other Details||9.50 X 6.50 inch|
The streets of Calcutta Kolkata give a fascinating history of the metropolis. They are in some cases tortuous to the pedestrians by their cork-screw nature and serpentine courses. They are no less taxing to the antiquarian from their primitively. No city in the world can claim to perpetuate the names of humblest of the humble of the society like cooks, barbers and washer men, side by side with cultural social political leaders of India who were the sons of this City of Intellectuals which included three Nobel Laureates.
P. Thankappan Nair (b. 1933) needs no introduction to the students of the history of Calcutta / Kolkata. This bare-foot historian of Calcutta, living and working in the metropolis since 1962 has written no less than 63 books. The 'History of Calcutta's Streets' is confined to the Calcutta of 1985' s, before the amalgamation of the municipalities of Garden Reach, South Suburbs (Behala) and Jadavpur. The names of the streets of these added areas are, in most cases, repetitions. Nair, though added new photographs did not revise the book, as he thought the original work will serve the purpose. Nair left Kolkata permanently in 2019.
Here, at lust, is 4 History of Calcutta's Streets, which is not free from errors, omissions and commissions, for which the author seeks the indulgence of his readers and well-wishers, in view of the fact that no attempt of the present magnitude has ever been undertaken. The pages that follow present a short history of Calcutta traced through its street names, with particular reference to the people, places and events associated with them. The author is sorry for he has, in some cases, failed to rescue old Calcutta celebrities from obscurity, their wrong identification is also not ruled out.
The author has tried to find out the raison d'etre of the nomenclature of Calcutta's streets in his Introduction by classifying them under various heads Renders of this treatise will agree with the author that Calcutta's street names reflect every facet of urban growth, British ascendency, freedom movement and the City's contribution to the nation in various fields. The names of streets in Calcutta are truly thought-provoking.
The orthography of the names of streets found in the records of the Municipal Corporation has been followed and the author has seldom changed them unless there are compelling reasons. For example, the author takes a stroll through Surendra Nath Banerjee Road, but the Rashtraguru is mentioned as Surendranath Banerjea. Similarly, Vidyasagar is not listed as Bidyasagar and Sri Aurobindo is not spelt as Sri Arabinda. No attempt has been made to standardise the names.
The encouragement received from Shri Prasanta Kumar Sur, West Bengal's Minister for Local Self-Government and Urban Development, Shri Kamal Basu, Mayor of Calcutta and Shri Moni Sanyal, Deputy Mayor of Calcutta, in the study of Calcutta's streets is gratefully acknowledged here. The assistance of Shri Arun Sen, former Administrator of the Calcutta Corporation, is similarly recorded here. The study has been undertaken with the willing help of a number of officers of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation, and it is next to impossible to list their names as it is too long. Shri R. K. Prasannan, Municipal Commissioner for the past three years, has laid the author under a deep debt of obligation by not only personally involving himself in the study, but also by contributing a Foreword.
Dr. Gaur Sankar Banerjee, Shri Jawhar Sircar, I.A.S. and his wife Nandita, Felu (Shri Bandhan Kumar Ghosh) and his wife Ishita, Shri Kalyan Kumar Chakravarti and his wife Pushpa and the author's other friends in Bhovanipore have spared no pains in locating references in Bengali literature to celebrities who have lent their names to the streets in Calcutta Shri A. V. Easwaran Kutty's assistance has been invaluable. Shri K. M. Govi of Central Reference Library, C/o National Library, did his best to enlighten the author on many a topic.
CALCUTTA which grew from marshes into a super-metro, is all set to celebrate the tercentenary of the advent of the English on its soil in 1990. Youngest of the presidency towns of India, Calcutta has more than 2500 streets, but the names by which these are known, have an antiquity of the most ancient city of India. A study of the origin of the names is interesting in that it helps us trace the history of British India, Freedom Struggle, the post-Independent national re-construction, the complex process of urbanization and what you have not.
Angled from a purely municipal point of view also, the history of Calcutta's streets is fascinating. Shri P. Thankappan Nair deserves to be complimented profusely for undertaking this study, specially since there is little of the stuff on this subject, I am afraid, that would ordinarily enthuse scholars. Nevertheless, Shri Nair has left no stone unturned in unearthing the facts behind street names in Calcutta, which he has encompassed in roughly a thousand pages of a magisterial volume. Apart from charting the evolution of the street system, the author has also elaborated on the development of the city by providing insightful vignettes of the people, places and events associated with it.
The work is shot through with pains-taking research, analytical skill, admirable scholarship and an unpretentious utilitarian approach. Shri P. T. Nair, who is well-known as an authority on Old Calcutta has several books to his credit. He is currently engaged on the job of writing a multi-volume Tercentenary History of Calcutta, the present one being second in the series. I have the honour of recommending his A History of Calcutta's Streets to the scholar as well as to the man in the street.
The evolution of streets is an interesting chapter in the urban growth of Calcutta The nomenclature used in Calcutta for designating a street is indeed bewildering. No less than thirty one terms are in vogue to designate a street, i.e, 1. Approach, 2. Avenue, 3. Bithi, 4. Circle, 5. Corner, 6. Court, 7. Dahar, 8. Garden, 9. Gullee, 10. Lane, 11 Bye Lane, 12. 1st Bye Lane. 13. Cross Lane, 14. 1st Lane, 15. 2nd Lane. 16. 3rd Lane, 17, 4th Lane, 18. Park, 19, Path, 20, Place, 21. Range, 22 Road, 23. Row, 24. Sarani, 25. Siding, 26. Scheme, 27. Spur, 28. Street, 29. Terrace, 30, Village, 31. Way. The most common designations applied are Avenue, Lane, Road, Sarani, and Street.
Half a dozen designations are used to denote an enclosed place where the public have the right of recreation such as 1. Bag, 2. Garden, 3. Kanan, 4. Maidan, 5. Park and 6. Square. We are, therefore, called upon to banish from our mind any preconceived notion about a street or park as the designations in Calcutta have little relevance to their accepted connotations For instance, no Calcuttan will now think of Mandeville Gardens as a place of recreation. There is no park in Ballygunge Park and there is no square at Chowringhee. These misnomers have their own tales to tell and a study of the evolution of the street names is, therefore, an imperative need to understand the urban growth. Unfortunately, it is difficult, if not impossible, to trace the history of the names of streets in Calcutta as there are few records and much more myths. The streets, as the city itself, grew according to the demands of the users.
Calcutta by the end of 1983 had no less than 2027 streets (which include all places where the public have a right of way) and 176 parks (all enclosed places where the public have the right of recreation). Their number would swell considerably if we count the ones recognised by the Postal Authorities and the guides brought out by enterprising publishers. Our figures relate to those streets and parks only which have the official stamp of the Corporation of Calcutta. The orthography of the street names is taken from the Corporation's latest List of streets. We ignore in this study the streets like Chowk, Katra, and other designations given to, or recognized by, the Calcutta Postal Authorities for expeditious delivery of the mail. The spellings given by the Postal Authorities and guides published by unofficial agencies are also not accepted. After these preliminary remarks. we shall define Calcutta for our purpose.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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