Despite being a metropolitan, Kolkata hugs its British-era buildings close to its heart even till date. By Shubhanjana Das
Kolkata, once the capital of India, is associated with — rosogolla, the British Raj, the Partition of Bengal in 1905, and with the prodigies like Rabindranath Thakur, Satyajit Ray, and Mrinal Sen — who have carved the significant identity of this city. It is also associated with the centuries-old monumental structures still holding onto their iconic charm and significance in the modern day and times. Kolkata to every Indian rings synonymous to heritage, history, literature, culture, politics, and nostalgia — well preserved within the rustic walls of its century-old structures. Standing tall but not as strong, holding memories but not so much its structure anymore — these gorgeous buildings have been repurposed into contemporary cultural hotspots, drawing in as much Calcuttans as outsiders.
Being Kolkata’s first heritage bed and breakfast, the Calcutta Bungalow lives up to every claim it makes, both said and unsaid. Brainchild of Iftekhar Ahsan, Chris Chen, and Ranvir Shah, this 90-year old Majumdar bari in Fariapukur is now a proud coalescence of modern amenities and the lovely and unmistakable old-world charm indigenous to Kolkata. A venture with the vision to save the city’s heritage and take it away from the tag of a crumbling century-old building, this bed and breakfast has six rooms, all delicately and meticulously designed, structured, and put together by Swarup Dutta.
Shalini Nopany and partner Pooja Goenka’s vision of having a space that speaks of and for Kolkata transpired as 85 Landsdowne — a store that brings the leading designer labels from all over India under one roof. The 80-year-old mansion spread over two floors is designed to have a contemporary yet rustic look to it with European-style, black-and-white checkered flooring, a creative vision of both the founders and interior consultant Ajay Arya. 85 Landsdowne houses every brand starting from the Kolkata-born Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Anamika Khanna to Manish Malhotra and Tarun Tahiliani.
Back in 2010, 58B Hindustan Park was revamped into what is now one of the most renowned and loved sari boutique, Byloom by Malavika Banerjee. This set off a ripple effect, which is now visible all throughout the neighbourhood of Hindustan Park, a posh locality in South Kolkata. This art and literature aficionado is a true Kolkata girl at heart, a love she has been able to materialise into a store, which houses handloom sarees, with a vision to keep alive the art of weaving and embroidering true to Bengal. This two-storey house also has Byloom Canteen serving Bengali snacks and beverages.
Belonging to a Bengali landlord family and dating way back to 1904, The Corner Courtyard is, as its name states, situated at a corner on Sarat Bose Road. Megha Agarwal revamped the building at the heart of South Kolkata and gave it a new identity of a boutique hotel, a restaurant and a patisserie that is close to Calcutta. The seven rooms at The Corner Courtyard are all hued in different colours, have huge poster beds and black-and-white checkered floors. Old locks and keys are kept on display, peculiar to The Corner Courtyard aesthetic.