Kolkata Literary Tour : Apeejay Bangla Sahitya Utsav

Kolkata- The city of joy is also known for its literary contribution to India.This city has given birth to many eminent authors like Rabindranath Tagore , Satyajit Ray , Michael Madhusudan Dutt to name a few whose works have been recognized across the world.

Bengali literature had always been in the forefront of literary movement in India and has always given roadmap for India to follow.However in the recent years Kolkata has contributed not much to the literary history of India.

To revive the Bengali literature Apeejay Surrendra group along with Oxford bookstores  has taken a great initiative in the form of Apeejay Bangla Sahitya Utsav which is a two day event which revolves around the Bengali literature. This year it is happenening on 21st-22nd Oct,2016.

So if you are person interested in literature then Kolkata will never leave you empty handed. There are many interesting places to visit which will give an insight of the rich Kolkata Literature.After staying in Kolkata for almost 6 years I never knew such interesting places were just a walk away, which I discovered during a Literary Heritage Bus tour organised under the Apeejay Bangla Sahitya Utsav. Literary Heritage Walk was an excellent walk where the guests not only got a glimpse of the key buildings but also informed about the detailed literary history of Kolkata.

If you are a connoisseur of literature and visiting Kolkata then its a must to visit the following places. The rich history of the places will keep you spell bound.

Cost :  The cost of travelling in Kolkata , India is very cheap. If you are taking a local bus which I won't recommend since they are too crowded then the total cost of the tour will be be approx $2-3. However if you are travelling by Taxi then the total cost will be $15-$20 for the entire travel. The taxi can accommodate 3 people comfortable so the per person cost will come to approx $5-$7. 

Route of Travel :

Ideally you should follow the below route which will cover most of the places of interest

The brief history of the places are as follows :

a) Kolkata Police Museum : This place was original residence of Raja Rammohan Roy and now converted into a Museum.Raja Rammohan Roy was the founder of the Brahmo Sabha movement in 1828, which engendered the Brahmo Samaj, an influential socio-religious reform movement. His influence was apparent in the fields of politics, public administration and education as well as religion. He was known for his efforts to establish the abolishment of the practice of sati, the Hindu funeral practice in which the widow was compelled to sacrifice herself in her husband’s funeral pyre in some parts of Bengal.Raja Rammohan Roy lived here from 1814-1830.
This is a also very interesting place if you want to see what firearms and bombs the Indian Freedom Fighters used to use. This museum houses a bomb dropped by Japanese Army on Kolkata during World War II which luckily didn't explode.You can also read the declassified files of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
Address : 113 , Acharya Praffula Chandra Road, Kolkata -700009


b) Ram Mohan Library : This is an important place in Kolkata Literary history. Rabindranath Tagore after receiving Nobel prize was felicitated here.The felicitation was headed by noted educationist Shibnath Shastri. Rabindranath Tagore recited poem no 51 from Gitanjali after the felicitation. The first floor is a library where readers can get their hands on an excellent collection of Bengali books.

Address : 267, Acharya Praffula Chandra Road, Kolkata- 700009


c) House of Upendrakishore Ray Chowdhury , Sukumar Ray & Satyajit Ray : If one would have to name one house which was inhabited by literary greats of Kolkata , then this is house at 100A Garpar road would be the one. The great write Upendrakishore Ray Choudhury's last residence was at this place and it is the birth place of the great writer, director Satyajit Ray. Sukumar Ray who was father of Satyajit Ray also stayed here.
Upendra Kishore Roychowdhury was the first person to introduce modern block making, including half-tone and colour block making in India and perhaps South Asia. He was famous as a Children Literature. Among his famous books are Tuntunir Boi, Gupi Gayne Bagha Byne, Chotoder Ramayan and hotoder Mahabaharat. He started his press here in the name of U.ray and Sons.
Satyajit Ray was born in the year 1921 and stayed here till 1926.
Currently this building houses a school.

Address : 100A Garpar Road

d) Vidyasagar Smriti Mandir : This was the resident of father of bengali alphabet Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagr. He gifted bengalis with 12 vowels and 40 consonants of Bengali language.He is considered a literary genius.He is famous for the classic "Barno Prichoy".He built the house in 1877 and stayed here until his death in 1891.

Address : 36, Vidyasagar Street, Manicktala, Machuabazar, Kolkata, West Bengal 700009

e) Bangiya Sahitya Parishad : Bangiya Sahitya Parishad is a literary society in Bengal. Established during the time of the Raj, its goal is to promote Bengali literature, both by translating works in other languages to Bengali and promoting the production of original Bengali literature.The organisation was founded by L. Leotard and Kshetrapal Chakraborty in 1893. Then it was known as 'The Bengal Academy of Literature'. On 29 April 1894, the name of the society itself was changed to 'Vangiya Sahitya Parishad'. 1894 saw the first officers, with Romesh Chunder Dutt as the first president and Rabindranath Tagore and Navinchandra Sen as vice presidents.

Address : 153/4a, Acharya Prafulla Chandra Road, Manicktala, Khanna, Kolkata-700006

f) Jorasanko Thakur Bari : This is the place of birth of Rabindranath Tagore - the renowned Indian poet and first non-European Nobel laureate, This house is an interesting place to visit. This 35,000 sq-m, house today is a museum where many items related to the life and works of Rabindranath Tagore are well-preserved. Maharishi Bhavan and Rabindra Bharati University are other buildings located within the premises of the complex. Also known as Jorasanko Thakur Bari, Tagore House was built in 1785 by Prince Dwarkanath Tagore, the grandfather of Rabindranath Tagore.

Address : 259, Rabindra Sarani, Singhi Bagan, Jorasanko, Kolkata, 700007

g) Indian Coffee House : Indian Coffee House or Coffee House has a very important place in the Literary history of Kolkata. Eminent writes used to come here to write and have a cup of coffee.Great writers and freedom fighters of Bengal were frequent here. This place has a nostalgic feel to it and at any point of day you will find it choc-a-bloc with intellectual people discussing about Shakespeare to sex.

Address : Indian Coffee House, 15, Bankim Chatterjee Street, Kolkata, 700073

h) Grave of Michael Madhusudan Dutt : Michael Madhusudan Dutt was a popular 19th-century Bengali poet and dramatist.He was a pioneer of Bengali drama.His famous work Meghnad Bodh Kavya, is a tragic epic. It consists of nine cantos and is exceptional in Bengali literature both in terms of style and content. He also wrote poems about the sorrows and afflictions of love as spoken by women.Dutta is widely considered to be one of the greatest poets in Bengali literature and the father of the Bengali sonnet. 
He rests in peace in Lower Circular Road cemetery

Address : L.C. Rd. Cemetery, 184, Park Street, Beniapukur, Kolkata,700017

Share you experiences of your visit at the above places.
If you are in Kolkata between 21st & 22nd Oct,2016 don't forget to visit Apeejay Bangla Sahitya Utsav and if you miss the Bangla Sahitya Utsav visit Oxford Bookstores where you can find a huge collection of Bengali literature.

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