british rule, Calcutta, General ramblings, History, Independence, India, Life, Thoughts

The Pre-Independence Calcutta

I was lucky enough to stumble upon these pictures while roaming around the internet. This collection is a rare gem for people who’ve ever lived in Calcutta. Nothing seems to have changed, except for the model of the cars and the crowd on the streets. And the color and quality of the pictures. I wish I could go back in time and live in that era. Everything becomes history, even before we realize it.

These photos were taken by Frank Short, an American serviceman, while in Calcutta and Madras in 1944. He was on duty in the Burma theatre during World War II.

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28 thoughts on “The Pre-Independence Calcutta

  1. Wow thats an amazing collection. I have been born and brought up in Cal. and after seeings those pics..I also would love to live in that era.

    A very good post Ruhi πŸ™‚

  2. It’s beautiful. I had a completely different idea of how things were before independence but Calcutta does look really pretty and developed. Some pictures totally reminded me of the kind of buildings that exist in present day London. Must make sure I visit Calcutta once in my life.

  3. Anirudh- Thanks for your comment and welcome to my blog πŸ™‚ Good to find a fellow Calcuttan here. I miss Calcutta so much and this slideshow made me really nostalgic. All those buildings, the lanes and by lanes…everything’s still the same. Maybe the city has stagnated? Who cares! I’ll love it always.

    Ankur- Calcutta was the capital of the British Empire for quite some time and it was Calcutta that was the center of the hub before.

    Arvind- Yeah, even I came across lots of pics of Madras, Delhi and Simla too. But I decided to stick to Cal here, because it’s closer to my heart. πŸ™‚

    Ish- You need to come to Cal and then stay at my place. πŸ˜€ I’ve been to Chandigarh and it’s a lovely city. Very clean and green. Cal is very different though. Quite culturally inclined, a home to some of the biggest book worms and the biggest book fair in the nation, some lovely buildings and antique street names. And the puchkas are out of the world. I can go on and on….sigh!

  4. Hey Ruhi, Feels wonderful to see those pics… i have been brought up in Calcutta…it’s like a 2nd home to me! Wanna go back to that place after seeing these pics, feeling nostalgic!

  5. Kolkata was very developed at one time, more so than most other cities in India. I have a special affection for Kolkata and I guess one of the reasons is that I have fond memories of my friends there.
    These are very beautiful pictures and thanks for sharing them!

  6. lallopallo says:

    Amazing pictures! I have never visited Calcutta, but have been always fascinated by this city, which was the intellectual capital of Pre-Independent India.
    I was wondering if I could get similar old pictures of other cities of India..

  7. @ Veenu:

    great! That was my intention…to make Calcuttans feel nostalgic. πŸ™‚

    Nita- Yes, it is a lovely place. Very warm and welcoming for sure. I hope it catches up with the other cities in this rat race.

    Lallo- “Was” nahi. Still is the “intellectual” capital, me thinks. πŸ˜‰ I have similar pics of Bombay, Madras, Simla, Delhi etc. Will email them to you.

  8. lallopallo says:

    Well, it might be still the intellectual capital ..if you inisist..:) . But, there is no denying the fact that the current intellectuals and artists from Bengal are no match to those early torch bearers
    of Indian/Bengali Renaissance ( Ram mohan Roy, Bankim chandra chatterjee,Tagore, Satyajit Ray etc). It’s not me who say so, but quite a few Bengalis I have known or met who dont want to take present day Calcutta very seriously:).
    Ya, it will be great to see similar pics of other cities..especially Simla ( I have lived there) & Delhi..email me or you can just post the link here if you want..
    Thanks yaar…

  9. @ lallopallo:

    Yes, I agree that Calcuttans these days might not be able to hold a torch to leaders of the Golden Age. But there are many others- Jhumpa Lahiri, Amitav Ghosh, Lakshmi Mittal, Arundhati Roy (even though she’s half Keralite) and many others πŸ™‚ I’m sorry for not yet emailing them to you. Will do it right away! πŸ™‚ You can post them on your blog. I don’t think I will be using them.

  10. Pingback: Oh Calcutta! « Time and Again

  11. Tanuj says:

    Ruhi……..
    Thanks a lot for sharing these reat pics……..
    is it possible if you could upload the Delhi and Simla pics.
    That would be great and awesome.
    Tanuj.

  12. Tanuj- I do have some Delhi and Simla pics (collected online), but not too many. I’ll try to email them to you instead. Thanks for stopping by πŸ™‚

  13. Tanuj says:

    Thanks ruhi…. I wil eagerly wait for these pics……
    Had been searching for these pics for a long time….
    I guess you have just made that very easy for me…..
    Once again thanks a lot.
    Tanuj.

    PS: Do u have my e mail address as I guess it doesnt get displayed.. please let me know.

  14. Dr Swati Piramal says:

    I am doing a tribute to me 80 year mother in law who lived in Calcutta in pre independence India. I wonder if I can use these pictures because it would convey the impression of pre independence Calcutta for her.

    Thanks Swati

  15. Swati says:

    Hi wanted to use the following pix from your slide show-

    chowringee square, Calcutta traffic, harrison street, hindustan building, hooghly, calcutta street scene, advertising, burra bazaar sweets, the ganges, miltonlinks pic 8 and 10. would be greatful if you mail for non commercial use.

  16. Swati- Yes, please use them! No problem! They are not copyrighted to me. I appreciate your dropping me a line here though. πŸ™‚ Wish more people were aware of Intellectual Property Rights issues.

  17. Roland Beaufre says:

    Je recherche des photos anciennes de l’Indian Museum de Calcutta , en avez vous ou savez vous ou je pourrais en trouver ? Merci et ces photos sont magnifiques …

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