Yatra Wishesh: A journey through nostalgia... with Indian Coffee House Kolkata

March 22, 2013 17:26
Yatra Wishesh: A journey through nostalgia... with Indian Coffee House Kolkata

Intellectual debates and more...

Indian Coffee House Kolkata otherwise also known to be as College Street Coffee House is a cafe located opposite to the Prestigious Presidency College on College Street, Kolkata. Remaining as a genuine fact that it has been for a long time a regular hang out and a renowned meeting place “so called adda” for intellectuals and students (and ex-students) of the Presidency College, University of Calcutta, other institutions in College Street as well from around the world. It has genuinely played an important role in Calcutta's (Kolkata) cultural history and called as the hub of intellectual debates.

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The history of the Coffee House at College Street can be traced back to Albert Hall, which was founded in April 1876. Later on, the Coffee Board decided to start a coffee joint from the Albert Hall in 1942. Notable citizens, including Rabindranath Tagore and Subhas Chandra Bose, were frequent visitors to the place. In 1947, the Central Government changed the name of the place to "Coffee House".

Coffee-House-1The heritage place is a Hub for the literati ...

The place became a meeting place attracting the poets, artistes, literati and people from the world of art and culture. In 1958, the management decided to shut down the Coffee House, but it was re-opened the same year, after professors of Presidency College and Calcutta University rushed off a special petition to the government, to save the heritage place.

In 2006, a huge financial crunch kept the co-operative society from undertaking renovation of the coffee house. Though a few companies such as Asian Paints approached the society with offers to renovate the restaurant while the offers were refused due to clash of norms and conditions.

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Famous Patrons at the intellectual battleground...

The prestige of the Coffee House elevated with regular visitors such as Satyajit Ray, Manna Dey, Amartya Sen, Mrinal Sen and Aparna Sen which is why The Coffee House kept intact with it's historical significance for being the rendezvous of innumerable versatile people, from its inception to date.

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Scholars, editors, artists and writers like Ritwik Ghatak, Narayan Gangopadhyay, Sunil Gangopadhyay, Sanjeev Chattopadhyay, Samaresh Majumdar, Subhas Mukhopadhyay and Shakti Chattopadhyay) have been just a few among the patrons of the restaurant.

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Quiet interestingly, in early sixties of 20th century the coffee house became the intellectual battleground of the famous Hungry generation literary and cultural movement when the iconic poets such as Malay Roy Choudhury, Samir Roychoudhury brother duo who pioneered the movement were arrested and prosecuted. In fact, several literary magazines owe their origin to the inspiration from the adda sessions at this coffee house. Though popularly known as College Street Coffee house, this branch is actually on Bankim Chatterjee Street and it as always famous for its adda sessions, and as the breeding place of several political and cultural personalities and movements.

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As a concluding fact, many people come here just for the sake of adda and just being a part of the long talking sessions. Several talented and illustrious persons from different streams have been in the multitude of people crowded at its own renowned adda for a long time!

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This heritage site is a must go place as many thing can happen over a cup of coffee...

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It's where, coffee and adda walk hand in hand!

Wanted to be there? Just be in Kolkata and ask anyone naming this place and you'll be guided with a spontaneous measure...that's for sure!

Image source: Indian Coffee House Kolkata

Content source: adapted from various online sources.

Here "adda" meaning "gossip amongst a group of members"

(AW:Samrat Biswas)

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