Kolkata (Calcutta): Cultural, Creative and Captivating
Today, I am revisiting old memories and writing my thoughts of this extraordinary city. Almost 16 years back, as an urban design student, I visited Kolkata on a study tour and returned understanding what a 'sense of place' means. The sense of place exudes through every bit of this city.
As a 'City of Joy', Kolkata takes pride in its resilience and keeping its true nature and attitude alive. The quality of place is seen in the imperial grandiose of the Victoria Memorial, Hoogly River and the engineering feat of the Howrah Bridge spanning over it, bringing the city closer, and the very first metro of the subcontinent. Whereas, the city's confidence and attitude come from its people and their intellect, excelling in literature, filmmaking and art.
This short blog tries to capture the soul of the city, which lies in its 'everyday' sense of being. In this global world where every city today is portraying and projecting an image, Kolkata is undoubtedly not shy of its complicated past and its inadequacies; the city doesn't pretend to be something else. The real and authentic experience of the old part of Kolkata, like a timeless classic, has left an imprint on my mind.
Reminiscing the walk through Kumartuli, you will encounter art in everyday and mundane activities on the street. The goddesses in the making are emblematic of West Bengal's rich culture celebrating divine feminine power and victory over evil. As the sculptures lay drying on the side of the path, the serene face reaffirms our hopes and beliefs.
Old Kolkata celebrates the cultural, creative and intellectual heart and spirit of this city. The contrast between old and new areas of Kolkata is stark. Perhaps, it's the reflection of the people, tightly holding onto the past and enjoying their today.
Walking along the streets of old Kolkata, you stumble upon remarkable and stunning colonial architectural relics of the past. Even the decaying architecture of the old city doesn't cease to charm.