College Street is an eminent center of Kolkata’s literary crowd. It is second home to the intellectuals, scholars, academicians, students and book lovers of Kolkata city. Also colloquially known as ‘Boi Para’ (book-mart), it houses Kolkata’s most prestigious and renowned academic institutions like University Of Calcutta, Calcutta Medical College, Presidency College, Sanskrit College, Hare School and Hindu School. The place has a unique charm of its own. Dotted with makeshift book stalls constructed with bamboo, wood, canvas and sheets of tin on both sides of the road, College Street is a paradise for book lovers. It’s a one of its kind book market place in the world which draws locals and tourists alike from every corner of the globe. It is a regular place of visit for book trotters. One can get all kinds of book here. The universal availability of books and the large network of shop owners make your book buying experience truly memorable. Famous publication houses like Ananda Publishers, Abhijan Publishers, Dey’s publishing are located here. It is the largest second-hand book market in the world and largest book market in India.
Location of College Street at Kolkata
It is placed between Bowbazar and Mahatma Gandhi Road.
History of College Street of Kolkata
The inception of the name ‘College Street’ goes back to the time when The Hindu College was first established in 1817. The Hindu College was the brainchild of David Hare, who wanted to set up ‘an institution for giving a liberal education to the children of the members of the Hindu Community.’ This noble idea of the British man found admirable acceptance from eminent figures of the Hindu community. Babu Buddinath Mukherjee along with the support of the Chief Justice, Sir Edward Hyde East, and some European and Hindu gentlemen helped Hare to establish the college. With unanimous approbation finally Hare successfully established the Hindu College with twenty scholars. Thus, the street on which the Hindu college was located came to be known as College Street under the Governorship of Lord Wellesley. Lord Wellesley first introduced the construction of planned roads in Calcutta. It was under him that College Street formerly known as The Great Arterial Road found its name.
The famed Coffee House is located at College Street. It has been the rendezvous place of many illustrious and notable personalities like Rabindranath Tagore, Subhas Chandra Bose, Satyajit Ray, Manna Dey, Amartya Sen, Mrinal Sen, Shashi Kapoor and Aparna Sen etc. Many talented geniuses have penned down pieces of lyrics, poems, story scripts or exchanged brimming ideas related to the world of art and culture in this cafeteria. The Coffee House is a part of the Indian Coffee House restaurant chain in India, run by a series of worker co-operative societies. Presently, the place is regularly thronged by students from nearby premiere institutions, literary intellectuals and enthusiastic tourists.
- “Coffee House er shei adda ti…” lines from the famous Bengali song by Manna Dey was penned at Coffee House of Kolkata. The melodious song’s composition was inspired by the Adda (long chats) culture of the cafeteria.
- In 1883, the first session of the Indian National Conference was held at the prestigious Albert Hall of College Street that led to the founding of the Indian National Congress in Bombay in 1885.
- College Street has been the hub of Political meetings since 1930’s and is witness to many historical political congregations led by iconic Indian leaders like Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
- College Street has witnessed the beginning of the Naxalite Movement in Bengal.
- The first medical college of India, The Calcutta Medical College was established here.
- In 2007, College Street featured among the famous landmarks of India which made it to Time Magazine’s “Best of Asia” list.
- India’s first integrated Book-Mall Varnaparichay, is coming up soon at College Street. It is an urban redevelopment programme of College Street Municipal Market in collaboration with Bengal Shelter Housing Development Ltd. This project is a unique idea to bring together all the publishers, buyers, bookshop owners and book lovers from different corners of the world. This extraordinary book mall will possibly have everything for all book lovers, in an area of nearly 1 million sq.ft. This book mall will be a state of art theme mall. It is being designed by renowned architect Mr. Hafeez Contractor.
- It is also a food lover’s paradise. Foodies have plenty to dig into during their visit to College Street. The best sweet shops are Putiram and Mouchak famous for rasogollas, sandesh, ladycanny and dorbesh. There are numerous fast food centers and stalls along the sideway paths that offer a wide variety of street food like rolls, chowmein, chops, samosas and kachoris that are quiet popular with the crowd.