The erstwhile capital of India, the cultural capital of the country, the educational centre of the East — there are many ways in which you can refer to Calcutta. And one of the aptest is that it is a street photographer’s paradise. Holding onto its imperial hangover like a proud nostalgic memory, Calcutta’s streets is a kaleidoscopic amalgam of moments, the best any big Indian city can offer. It is partly because of its deep-rooted culture and in part because of the overflowing young talent in the city who rediscover their City of Joy with every picture. By Shubhanjana Das
Every stunning idol that graces every major puja in Kolkata, West Bengal and India is brought to life from clay in the streets of Kumartuli where master potters and artisans painstakingly draw every detail on the straw framed clay-coated idols that we worship as Gods. The best time to visit would be a couple of weeks before Durga Puja since that is when they are the busiest. You will be allowed and welcomed to sit inside their workshops and document the process of sculpting a God/Goddess.
2. Bow Barracks and Sun Yat-Sen Street
When you walk just two minutes from the Central Avenue metro station, you will find yourself (with a little help) in the narrow labyrinthine lane famously known to the city dwellers as the Bow Barracks – initially built to serve as a garrison’s mess for the army during the first world war. Now, it is a motley of three-story red-bricked buildings stuffed in three blocks with a majority of the Anglo-Indian population. The cinematic effect of each moment and during every time of the day can only be explored when you have your camera ready to look at this lane, so full of character.
3. Howrah Bridge and Mullick Ghat Flower Market
The image that is synonymous to Kolkata, an icon of the city, and not to mention, every Calcuttan street photographer’s weekly destination. No day is the same in and around this 705-m long cantilever bridge which bears the weight of approximately one lakh vehicles and two million people every day, with the numbers only rising. On the end of the bridge that gives way to Calcutta (not Howrah), lies the city’s biggest wholesale flower market. No amount of detailed description can ever come close to imagining what this prismatic and kaleidoscopic market looks like during peak hours of business. Make sure you reach by 6 for they wrap up by 8:30-9 am.
4. College Street
How can any photo tour of Kolkata be complete without images of Asia’s biggest second-hand book market in your camera memory? Endless stack of books from all over the world and unimaginable periods of time, we suggest you end up here at 9 am so that you can beat the crowd and watch as the street vendors set up their shops.