It has been a journey of more than a thousand thoughts and deeds. It continues to be a journey of Time, Vision, Initiative, Effort and pure Passion for the City, that has meandered its way into becoming what we at Calcutta Walks endearingly call- the Calcutta Bungalow project.
Two friends, two hemispheres, yet one common vision, have come together to give form, colour and life to an absolutely innovative concept in this City.
Childhood buddies Iftekhar Ahsan (founder Calcutta Walks) and Chris Chen, (who doubles up as a financial whiz in Perth), decided to buy off a ninety year old heritage property in North Kolkata, with a plan to give a much needed boost to responsible tourism in a heritage-rich city like Calcutta.
This grand structure located at 5, Radha Kanta Jeu Street, had been an elegant synthesis of Kolkata’s colonial past and its Islamic influences. Its architecture and interiors reflected the early twentieth century styles of the city.
Today, it is a hub of activity. Work is in full swing and the deceptively dormant chrysalis is on its way to becoming the butterfly it is destined to be.
Conservation architect Akhil Ranjan Sarkar was handed the daunting task of on the combining the best of ethnic heritage with a progressive approach.
The main motive was not only to save an old building from sure demolition, but also, give an impetus to the efforts for the rejuvenation of the heritage of North Kolkata, which is facing an onslaught of Time and Commercialism.
A quick tour around the typical ‘oli-golis’ or lanes and bylanes of North Kolkata, will reveal the alarming rate of erosion of the typical culture of the older parts of the City, evident in some rather out-of-place architecture.
One of the key elements of this project is that, the house is being re-created lovingly and painstakingly, seamlessly blending technology with the old-world charm that is a hallmark of this part of Calcutta.
Care is being taken of every minute detail that will give the guests a complete experience of old world Calcutta in this homestay- right from the ambiance, to the décor and definitely, the food that will be served within its walls. The mind-boggling variety of Calcutta or even Bengal-specific cuisine that is part of our lives here, will appropriately function as the conversation-starter, initiating the much needed dialogue this city needs to have with and about its food.
One of the unique aspects of the Calcutta Bungalow will be its very own perfumery, which is being envisioned as an endeavour to revive the perfume traditions of Eastern India. It also hopes to provide the city with its store of quality souvenirs through an in-house curio shop. A rooftop café is also on the cards.
Calcutta Walks has always taken its role as a via-media between the city, its residents, its lovers and a variety of academicians, intellectuals, performers and entrepreneurs, very seriously.
Interestingly, the Calcutta Bungalow will also be used as a multi-cultural hub. Calcutta lovers across the globe will find this Bungalow as a bridge spanning the distance between them and the City. Every event held in its premises will reflect the basic philosophy that it shares with its mother ship- Calcutta Walks.
A one-of-its-kind Calcutta Walking School is also being planned out, which will offer up the wisdom from the streets of the city that is native to the city.
Daring to dream is definitely commendable but the will and the drive to make that dream come true in tangible terms is admirable. It has always been the endeavour of Ifte to give value added returns to the City he calls home. This is one more such venture. Meanwhile, Chris also joins his friend in hoping to do something for the city that he cannot stop loving.
The Calcutta Bungalow began as a dream and is well on its way to becoming a reality. Brick by brick, layer by layer, this project promises to be more than a conversation starter on the city. And Ifte and Chris can’t wait to welcome you into this unique experience called The Calcutta Bungalow!