The Hon’ble Company’s Botanic Garden, Calcutta, 1787

বোটানিকাল গার্ডেনস, শিবপুর, কলকাতা, ১৭৮৭

The idea for a botanical garden was first tabled in the summer of 1786 by Robert Kyd, a Secretary to the Board in the Military Department of Fort William, as a potential safeguard against famine. But it soon became something much bigger and more ambitious.

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Colonel Robert Kyd

Ten years earlier he had visited the western borders of Assam, and from there he had brought young plants of a species of cinnamon growing wild there. Within the next few years other specimens had been obtained from Bhutan, and still other plants of the true cinnamon from Ceylon. All these plants were “deposited in the Governor-General’s garden,” the garden of Warren Hastings’ old house in Alipore. There the plants throve very well to prove their successful transplantation to Bengal. As Ceylon and the profitable cinnamon trade was at that time in the hands of the Dutch, the Board of Directors readily agreed to a proposal which seemed to promise a prospect of successful competition, the proposed garden was sanctioned, and Colonel Kyd was appointed honorary superintendent, a post which he held till his death. See

Botanic Garden House -1775

Shalimar, the house where Col. Kyd lived. A lithograph by Charled D’Oyly

In a letter dated 20 November 1787, Kyd sets out his vision for the garden to be part of the wider pursuit of scientific knowledge. Gradually the East India Company (EIC) did begin to actively support Kyd’s initiatives. The botanical garden in Bengal was one of the first instances of this support and it made the Gulf a part of an expanding European scientific enquiry that Kyd hoped might ‘add to the Fund of General Knowledge’. In response to an official request, the EIC Resident, Edward Galley, received in October 1787 from Persian Gulf a gift of six exotic plants. Besides the ‘Bussora Date Tree’ and the ‘famous Persian Tobacco’, there was also a tree that produces Varnish Gum.

Basra Date Palm, the Botanical Garden in Bengal--photo-430_8_0018_webcrop_2

Persian Flora

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Basra Date Palm

The garden was established in 1787 with its official name ‘The Hon’ble Company’s Botanic Garden, Calcutta’. Subsequently, it was renamed ‘The Royal Botanic Garden, Calcutta’ in the early 1860s. This amazing garden is laid out on a sprawling 272 acres of lush greenery on the west bank of river Hooghly. Over 12,000 trees and shrubs belonging to 1400 species together with thousands of herbaceous plants are in cultivation in the open in 25 Divisions, Glass houses, Green Houses and conservatories. The best-known landmark of the garden is The Great Banyan, an enormous banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis) that is reckoned to be the largest tree in the world, at more than 330 metres in circumference. They are also famous for their enormous collections of orchids, bamboos, palms, and plants of the screw pine genus (Pandanus). See

The featured image above is of the Great Banyan Tree at botanical gardens, Calcutta – a black and white photograph (albumen print) by Bourne & Shepherd. Undated. Source: Smithsonian Institution

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Kidderpore Bridge, Calcutta, 1826

KidderporeBridge
খিদিরপুর ব্রিজ, কলকাতা, ১৮২৬
The Kidderpore Bridge,the earliest stone-and-iron suspension bridge in India, lay at the end of the Course – the road that crossed the Maidan. It was the oldest road on the Maidan and was described in 1768 as being made to take the air. But, as an old song goes, ‘those who frequented it swallowed ten mouthfuls of dust for one of fresh air’. The road, however, is still one of the airiest and pleasantest drives in Calcutta, extended from the Cocked Hat, or কুঁকরো হাটা, to the Kidderpore Bridge, on the north, built up to the canal excavated by Colonel Tolly at his own expense, He reimbursed himself for this toil by a bazar or ganj at the place which still bears his name, Tolly ganj, and by tolls on crafts making use of his canal. in 1775.fiebig_frederick-kidderpore_bridge_calcutta_view The canal, formerly known as the Govindpore Creek, was, in fact, part of the old bed of the Ganges. It now runs into the Circular Canal, which again communicates with the Hooghly, forming the great inlet for country boats bringing produce from the Sunderbunds and the eastern districts of Bengal. The Nullah is here joined by a bridge once known by the name of Edward Surman, the head of the Embassy to Delhi in 1717, but now called Kidderpore Bridge. The bridge was built in 1826 and was the earliest stone-and-iron suspension bridge in India.
Kidderpore, Alipore and Bhowanipore were three suburbs of Calcutta, south of the Maidan. They were set apart from it by the canal known as Tolly’s Nullah (a canal), which necessitated the building of such bridges. It is traversed by the Calcutta ways, which run from here direct to the Esplanade on at the corner of Dhurrumtollah.

The view of the Kidderpore Bridge above is from a hand-coloured photograph print belonging to the Frederick Fiebig Collection: Views of Calcutta and Surrounding Districts, published in 1851. The inset photographic view of the ‘Tolly Nullah’ is also by Frederich Fiebig

Refreshments Room, Eaden Gardens, Calcutta, c1870

RefreshmentRooms-EadenGardens
ইডেন গার্ডেনে চা ঘর, কলকাতা, c১৮৭০
Calcutta is admirably served in the matter of “lungs”, There is no part which is not provided with a park or open space. The pride of Calcutta is its Maidan, an. extensive plain in the heart of the city covering about 1200 acres. The Eden Gardens are situated at the north-west extremity of the Maidan, bounded on the north by Auckland Road and on the west by Strand Road. They were laid out in about 1840, around an avenue of trees known as “Respondentia Walk”, then the fashionable promenade of Calcutta society, and named after Lord Auckland’s sisters, the Misses Eden, who designed and directed their general lay-out.
There are several gates to the Gardens, but by whichever one the visitor enters, he is led to sylvan surroundings far removed from the noise and bustle of the city. Pathways wind past multi-coloured flower-beds, tropical palms and murmuring fountains, adorned with dolphins and cherubs that add to the beauty of the scene; while rustic benches in shady arbours by the water-side, welcome those who seek rest in this haven of loveliness. See more What is more, there was a cute garden’s Refreshment Rooms with hatched roof and bamboo wall, as depicted by the artist Alfred Brooks in his painting above. Eden Gardens were formally opened to the public and for many years they were a fashionable evening meeting-place in Calcutta. The gardens are also home to the Calcutta Cricket Club.
Lithograph of the Refreshment rooms at Eden Gardens in Calcutta by Vincent Robert Alfred Brooks (1814-85) one of ‘Eight views of Calcutta’ published in London c.1870. Courtesy: British Library

Sealdah Railway Station, Sealdah, Calcutta, 1869

sealdah_main_station
শেয়ালদা রেল স্টেশন, শেয়ালদা, কলকাতা, ১৮৬৯
Eastern Bengal Railway Company was registered in 1857 to establish railroad connection between Calcutta and Eastern part of undivided Bengal beyond Ganges(Padma) . First section was completed in January 1962 from Calcutta to Champahati. By May 1862 this extended to Port Canning. Ranaghat was connected in September 1862. Initially the the company was known as  Eastern Bengal Guaranteed Railway and ran its trains on guaranteed lines.  The guaranteed lines were constructed by companies formed in England, who raised their capital from their own shareholders under a guaranteed interest of 5 per cent, from the Government of India
The original Main Station at Sealdah, designed by Mr. Walter Glanville was built in 1869. This was the main station. Subsequently as Calcutta spread, large areas south of the became suburbanised and it became necessary to provide these new areas with railway communication. The lines radiating to Diamond Harbour (once the main port) , Laksmikantapur, Canning and Budge Budge were known as south section. Interestingly this part of Sealdah station was built close to the main station but at right angles to the main station. Due to the same reasons for growing traffic to and from northern suburban areas another new North Sealdah station was built adjacent to main station.
The photograph was published as 1900’s post card, exact year and oth er detail unknown.

Bazaar on the Chitpore Road, Calcutta, 1826

fraser-calcuttaBazarচিৎপুর রাস্তায় দোকান-বাজার, কলকাতা, ১৮২৬
Chitpur Road was Kolkata’s oldest road. It has existed for at least 400 years. It was known as Pilgrim Road and started from the North-end of the city stretched up to Kalighat Temple on Adi Ganga. Apart from the aristocracy, there have been common folks engaged in various trades. The distinctive Bengali panjika almanac and Battala books were brought out from this place. So many things on Chitpore Road have been an integral part of Bengal’s life and culture being the centre of supplies for jatra, magic shows and musical instruments, including English brass bands. It might have received its name from the goddess Chiteswari, who had a splendid temple here erected by Gobindram Mitter, or one Gobinda Ghosh, in 1610. At the temple, Chitey dakat, the notorious bandit of the region, offered human sacrifices. The area could also have acquired its name from him. The lofty dome of the temple, which was known as Nabarutna or the shrine of nine jewels, fell during the earthquake of 1737, and it is now in ruins.
This Aquatint, coloured painting dated 1826 is the last plate from James Baillie Fraser’s ‘Views of Calcutta and its Environs’. Fraser wrote: “At the east end of Esplanade Row, the European quarter continued if one turned at right angles southwards down the Chowringhee Road. However, if one turned left up Cossitollah Street (named from its being the butcher’s quarter originally), one began to enter the Indian city, and especially so when this road crossed the Lall Bazaar and became the Chitpore Road. The Street exhibits a bewildering mix of Indian and decaying Palladian architecture, but is very obviously a bazaar. Cossitollah Street had in it a large number of purely European businesses.”

Russel Street, Chowringhee, Calcutta, 1828

রাসেল স্ট্রিটের দৃশ্য, কলকাতা, ১৮২৮
Russel Street in Chowringhee in Calcutta. Behind Bengal Club on Chowringhee Road, Russel Street runs north-south between Park Street and Middleton Street. The Street was named after Sir Henry Russel, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1806-1813.
Watercolour with pen and ink, dated 1828, by Marianne Jane James, the wife of the third Bishop of Calcutta.

Cheetah Chasing A Deer, Barrackpore Park, c1802

চিতা শিকার-খেলার দৃশ্য, ব্যারাকপুর লাটবাগান, c১৮০২
Here is a colourful description of a cheetah hunt in Lord Wellesley’s Park at Barrackpore. A cheetah is chasing a deer with huntsmen on horseback and elephant at Barrackpore, located 14 miles from Calcutta and was originally a permanent barracks. When Marquess Wellesley took over the Commander-in-Chief’s residence in 1801, he decided to make improvements to the area. He created a summer residence for future Governor-Generals’ and he landscaped the gardens while adding an aviary, a menagerie and a theatre. As a result, Barrackpore Park became a popular place for leisure pursuits, including organised hunts, as seen in this image.
Watercolour by Sir Charles D’Oyly (1781-1845) painted in c1802

Garden Reach, Calcutta, 1798

Gardereachx-Moffatxগার্ডেনরিচ, কলকাতা, ১৭৯৮
Garden Reach, a suburb of Calcutta, was an area on the River Hooghly where many Europeans built large ‘Garden Houses’ with grounds sweeping down to the river’s edge. The row of palladian mansions lining the river approach to the city provided an impressive view and made this one of the most fashionable areas of Calcutta. The wide distances between the houses were so designed in the belief that it would reduce the spread of disease by aiding air flow.
An uncoloured aquatint with etching of Garden Reach in Calcutta by James Moffat (1775-1815) one of his series of ‘Views along the Hooghly’ published in Calcutta in 1798.

Old Court House Street, Calcutta, 1850s

পুরনো কোর্ট হাউস স্ট্রিটের দৃশ্য (ছবিতে উল্লিখিত কাউনসিল হাউস রোড  সংকেতটি বিভ্রান্তিকর) , কলকাতা, c১৮৫০
The view was incorrectly captioned in the original as Council House Street instead of Old Court House Street as evident from the description. Old Court House Street connects Esplanade Row (East). It acquired its name from the old court house, that was located where St. John’s Church now stands. The northern part of the stretch is known as Dalhousie Square (East). It was constructed around 1781, when the finishing touches were put to the new Fort William. It is linked with the name of Col. Henry Watson, who brought about many improvements in Calcutta, including the laying out of surrounding Esplanade. The Red Road is an extension of this street. Council House Street connects the western part of Dalhousie Square with Esplanade Row. The view of the St. Andrews Kirk, and Great Eastern Hotel can be seen in the present location. Interestingly, the scene captured in the shot is found an exact match  in ‘Old Court House Street‘ – a wood engraving by some unidentified artist.
This image is a whole-plate albumen print from wet collodion glass negative of photograph taken by Frith Frith in 1850s.