Sunday, January 16, 2011

calcutta ,kolkata -It never begins , it never ends .

The emotional connect  that a bengali has with  calcutta is very difficult to explain ,what Berlin is to germans or London is to a brits calcutta is to the bengalis . Calcutta is  a paradise for any photographer , certain images just define Calcutta  , like the bridges over the river Hooghly & the most iconic is the Howrah bridge Popularly known as the Rabindra Setu, Howrah Bridge is an engineering marvel and is counted amongst the busiest cantilever bridge in the World. Observing a daily traffic of about 60,000 vehicles and innumerable pedestrians, Howrah bridge have equalled its position to Sydney Harbor Bridge. But the later can never dream of such a traffic. The bridge connects Kolkata and Howrah and is the lifeline of the city. The best way to enjoy its stately beauty is to view it from the middle of the river.
Constructed in 1939 and the bridge was opened to traffic in 1943 which cost as estimated Rs.333 crores, built from 26,500 tons of steel. It is a sort of 'Cantilever bridge'. In it cantilevers project from piers and are connected by girders. Erected during World War II to give Allied troops access to the Burmese front, replacing an earlier pontoon bridge that opened to let river traffic through.
Essentially, it had two portions. For the convenient plying of man and traffic, the pool was connected as a whole. However, the bridge was unfastened everyday, particularly during night for steamers, boats and other aquatic vehicles to ply. From 19th August, 1879, the bridge was illuminated by fixing electric poles at the centre. This was done by using the electricity rendered from the dynamo at the Mallick Ghat Pumping Station. The Bridge was then 1528 ft. long and 62 ft. wide. On both sides were pavements 7 ft. wide for the sake of pedestrians. The 48 ft. road in between, was for plying of traffic.

Vidyasagar Setu or commonly referred to as Second Howrah bridge is a modern engineering marvel with the largest cable used in any bridge of Asia. It was inaugurated in 1992 and is the second bridge connecting the twin cities of Calcutta and Howrah.
A cable-stayed bridge is a bridge that consists of one or more columns (normally referred to as towers or pylons), with cables supporting the bridge deck.
There are two major classes of cable-stayed bridges: In a harp design, the cables are made nearly parallel by attaching cables to various points on the tower(s) so that the height of attachment of each cable on the tower is similar to the distance from the tower along the roadway to its lower attachment. In a fan design, the cables all connect to or pass over the top of the tower(s).
The cable-stay design is the optimum bridge for a span length between that of cantilever bridges and suspension bridges. Within this range of span lengths a suspension bridge would require a great deal more cable, while a full cantilever bridge would require considerably more material and be substantially heavier. Of course, such assertions are not absolute for all cases.

Vivekananda Setu (also called Willingdon Bridge and Bally Bridge) is a bridge over the Hooghly River in West Bengal, India. It links the city of Howrah, at Bally, to its twin city of Kolkata, at Dakshineswar. Built in December 1932, it is a multispan steel bridge and was built to provide road cum rail link between the Calcutta Port and its hinterland.

The construction of bridge was done by famous Kutchi-Mistri contractor and Industrialist Rai Bahadur Jagmal Raja Chauhan. His nameplate can still be seen on each girder of the bridge. The construction of bridge started in year 1926 and was completed in year 1932.

The bridge was named Wellington Bridge by British after the then Governor of Calcutta. The first train that ran across the bridge was named Jagmal Raja Howrah Express by British acknowledging the feat of Rai Bahadur Jagmal Raja. It is said that bridge cost over one crore in those years.
The famous Dakshineswar Temple is situated on the banks of the Hooghly river near the Bally Bridge. The bridge also has sister bridges over the river at different points, namely the Howrah Bridge (Rabindra Setu) and the Vidyasagar Setu.
Victoria Memorial - Calcutta has many buildings whose architecture has deep European influence , but none is more striking than the huge set piece in white marble  located near maidan park created with funds looted from indian people , this m onument was erected  to commemorate  the 63 year reign of the empress , whose reign is considered as golden era in British  history .

                                               Dakhshineshwar temple , calcutta 

                                               Vidya sagar setu , another perspective  

for bengalis 3 p's r very important in their life  i.e "phish ", "phhotball" &"politics "
the city has many fresh  ponds , lakes & wetlands in which  fish is cultivated & sold  mainly in market sometimes just after fishing  the hydrological setup of these wet lands are completely different from amy other wet land in India  there is no catchment for these water bodies and has depth greater than 400ft , these water  bodies are used to mmet the ever growing demand for fish in this thickly populated city .

   this city loves sport traditionally foot ball  has been the most popular sport , but cricket  now seems to rival foot ball in terms of popularity , even today it is home to Indias greatest football clubs  & is still crazy about football , many international football stars pay a visit to this city

In calcutta while travelling on the street  , one can see vintage trams & hand pulled rickshaw or the human charriots , thogh the goverment announced ageneral ban on these hand pulled rickshaw , the ban has been largely ineffective , even thoughcycle b ased rickshaw is also in use  , based on calcutta's hand pulled rickshaw  puller  Bimal roy  directed his classic " Do bigha zammen ", & Dominique lapierre wrote his acclaimed book " The city of joy "

 I have  shot calcutta over a period of few months which i think is not enough to discover the multiple aspects of the city , but about one thing i  am convinced that is there is a certain paradox  in the city , many people crtically says that it is a "dying city " yet  there is so much life  , i am not philosopher or a literary person but these are my view & what i have felt while  photographing  the various aspects of the city , there are certain aspects which are  quintessentially calcutta ,  the photographs below  are just a few examples
 Shot near princep ghat ,  vintage boats are parked here , mainly for tourism purpse , there  ia certain old world charm in these boats

 vidya sagar setu

 sailing on gold , shot near princep ghat  during hot noon

 shot at dakhshineshwar temple 

victoria memorial , a view from maidan ( will have a separate  section exclusively later )
There are cerain buildings & sites( like Dalhousie square , Indian museum ) which has been declared as heritage by unesco , there you can find such vintage street lamps .
In this city love is always in the air 
The ghats of ganga 

North Calcutta  is quite like old Delhi , narrow bylanes , old & decaying houses  it seems time has stopped there  , you will be transported to a different era . North calcutta  offers enormous scope to photographers to explore their creativity  only if one can keep their "eyes " open .
                                                                    Cesc Building 
In north calcutta if you notice carefully you can see certain buildings has  victorian influence in their architecture & external design but those are certainly in a state of decay , the historical reasons  & it's present state of condition is certainly an interesting case study  . I will write a separate article on it   later . Narrow by lanes are distinctive features of   north calcutta 
Kumartuli -(the potters town ) , near sova bazar there exit a narrow bylane called kumartuli  where potters from  create  idols of varios Indian gods & goddesses  for various festivals in Bengal & also for entire India , their expertise in Idol making & in pottery crafts is famous in entire world. ( will have a separate section  for this )

Calcutta saga is incomplete without mentioning the famed Durga puja , the city gets decorated like a  bride , the five days of festivity completely transforms the city (will have a separate section on this ).There are other festivals also like vishwakarma puja , saraswati puja, laxmi puja , kali puja   but none  comes  close to the  grandness  of durga puja , after the  pujas the idols are  immersed in  holy ganga . 

 The city also has some magnificient mosque& churches but due to sensitivity regarding photography , i was denied permission to shoot , will try later on
Tipu sultan mosque 

south park cemetry  , a cemetry  which is declared a heritage site & has fascinating history ,  formed during the times of east india company , it has even inspired Satyajit ray to pen a story set in cemetry & his son Sandip ray even directed a film based on this story (will have a separate section on it )

 Race course , calcutta 

War memorial
 Princep ghat , calcutta

sunset over ganga 

In 2000 Calcutta was renamed as Kolkata

This photo essay i guess is too short to depict calcutta's true picture , the photo series will  continue..  


  1. I was searching for photographs of Kolkata, that touches the daily lives of the common man. The pictures that you have posted here are quite good and do provide glimpses of what the soul of the city is.

    I am sure that you will be able to bring out good photographs that will speak of stories without either you or any one saying anything.

    I would keep on navigating your site and would wait for pictures that will speak of the daily life of the people of this city.