Kids take a walk through history

The student group outside Esplanade Mansions on Saturday. Picture by Anup Bhattacharya

Dalhousie: Suvranil Dey, a Class VIII student, had never been to the Dalhousie area. His classmate Shalini Jha is new to Calcutta and has hardly seen the city.

Both friends were part of a group of 49 students from New Town's Narayana School who took a walk in the area on Saturday.

Ritwick Ghosh and Ramanuj Ghosh guided the students in their walk that started from outside The Lalit Great Eastern and moved through the Old Court House Street and covered Esplanade Mansions, Raj Bhavan, Currency Building, St. Andrew's Church, Writers' Buildings, and St. John's Church.

"I came because I wanted to know about this part of the city. I have never been to Dalhousie," Suvranil, who was armed with a camera, said.

Shalini, who came from London and joined the school this year, said: "We are now reading modern history. So, a visit to the place where the people we read about lived and worked is fascinating."

Ritwick Ghosh and Ramanuj Ghosh regaled them with stories about the buildings. Ritwick took the group inside the large vault rooms of the Currency Building that once used to store currency. "The currency would come here from the mint before being sent to financial institutions."

Ahava Communications and Calcutta Walks organised the walk.

Ramanuj pointed out to them people sitting on footpaths exchanging 100 rupee notes with Re 1 or Rs 2 coins for a fee. He showed them the Rangers Club Building that apparently housed the country's first departmental store - Francis Harrison Hathway.

The students saw the sprawling Esplanade Mansions that now has offices of the LIC and the railways but where once people lived. A Jew had built it, Ritwick said.

Standing on the road opposite St. Andrew's Church, Ritwick explained to the students when the cross was different from the cross usually seen in churches. "This cross is like an X. This is how St. Andrews was crucified. When you see this type of a cross outside any church, you know it's the Church of Scotland."

The last stop was St. John's Church, "the first masonry structure of Calcutta", that has the mausoleum of Job Charnock.


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