Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Kolkata Kaleidoscope : St. Teresa's Church

I first came to know of the existence of this church when I was invited to a wedding reception of one of my ex-colleagues. I was a bit surprised at first since he was a Hindu and it was a reception party and not the wedding itself but when I reached there I realized that the backyard of the church has been rented out for the wedding reception. The church building in itself looked interesting so I came back after a few days to visit the church along with Saibal, a friend of mine (who was also invited to that wedding reception party).

It is a catholic church, formally called St. Teresa of Avila Church, built in the late 19th century and located on the AJC Bose Road near Moulali. There is very little information that I could gather on this particular church apart from the fact that it was founded between 1895-97 and was blessed by Monsignor Goethals. The church was renovated about a hundred years later and was blessed then by Mother Teresa. The church was named after St. Teresa of Avila, the prominent Spanish mystic, Roman Catholic saint and Carmelite nun of the 16th century.

The beautiful red building of the church has an imposing structure and the interesting fact is that many of the instructions were written in Bengali indicating that it must be a popular parish amongst the Bengali speaking Anglo-Indian society. The church also contains a statue of Mother Teresa.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Kolkata Kaleidoscope : Metcalfe Hall

During one of my walks in the Dalhousie area, the heart of the Kolkata's business centre, I came across the Metcalfe Hall at the juncture of Strand Road and Hare Street. It was built between 1840-44, was designed by the city magistrate C.K. Robinson and was named after Sir Charles Metcalfe, who officiated as the Governor General in 1835-36 during the interval of the departure of Lord Bentinck and arrival of Lord Auckland, in honour of his efforts towards a free press. The architectural showpiece is said to be inspired by the Tower of Winds in Athens. Thirty lofty Corinthian columns supporting the massive entablature gives it a classical Greek look.

The Imperial Library was inaugurated here by Lord Curzon in 1903 and later on it evolved to National Library and shifted to Belvedre. 

On the eastern side is a huge portico with wide stairs leading to the hall. The building has been renovated recently by the Archaeological Survey of India and is being prepared to use it as a museum, supplementing the Indian Museum at Chowringhee. When I visited some terracotta tablets and brick samples were exhibited but renovation was still going on in the interiors.