The Calcutta Bunglow: Old house gets new life
Kolkata: At a time when the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) is requesting owners of old and dilapidated buildings to maintain the structures or pull them down to make rooms for new ones, an old house in shambles has been restored.
The house situated on Radha Kanta Jew Street at Fariapukur off Shyambazar in north Kolkata now houses the Calcutta Bungalow.
Iftekhar Ahsan along with his friend Chris Chen purchased the old and dilapidated three-storeyed building, which was constructed in 1926, almost four years ago. The building is a classic example of the golden era of Calcutta's (now Kolkata) architecture.
The Calcutta Bungalow is a guest house with bed and breakfast facilities. There are six well appointed rooms with all modern amenities. The breakfast is typically Bengali cuisine.
One of the unique aspects of this Bungalow is its own perfumery which is an attempt to revive the perfume tradition of old Kolkata. It may be mentioned that H Bose, the inventor of Kuntalin, has set up a perfumery which had received kudos from Europe. There will be an in-house curio shop where the produce of local artisans will be kept. There is also a plan to open a rooftop coffee shop.
Iftekhar Ahsan, the founder of Calcutta Walks, which organises walk through lanes and by lanes of the city to gain knowledge of its heritage said: "The whole purpose of the guest house is to have an idea of Kolkata's rich history and tradition. The guests can interact with the locals."
Restoring the old structure was a real tough job and it took over two years to complete. The originality has been maintained. The long verandah, a typical old Kolkata style has been restored. The iron beams have been repaired. The roof which was in bad shape has been repaired thoroughly. The masons who are experts in restoring old structures particularly door sized windows and roofs were engaged.
"We want to set an example and expect more people to come forward and restore old buildings which are Kolkata's pride," said Ahsan.
Senior KMC officials lauded the attempt and said the civic authorities are encouraging people to buy old structures and restore them keeping their originality. It may be mentioned that the house of Rajendranath Mookerjee on Harrington Street has been renovated.