Saturday, June 7, 2008

Flavour Of Chinatown

One-Day Tour To Soak In Flavour Of Chinatown

Somdatta Basu TNN

India’s very own Chinatown will soon be on the Kolkata tourism circuit, officially. The civic body has joined hands with some Tangra residents to come up with an "alley tourism" scheme that will take tourists 300 years back — to the days when the first Chinese immigrants settled in the city. It will begin with an authentic Chinese breakfast at Tiretta Bazar, followed by a visit to the eight Chinese temples, churches and museums. Tourists will be taken to the tomb at Achipur where the first Chinese colony was established, then the temples at Anandanagar and the cemetery at Beliaghata. The Chinese monastery will be a must-see. The daylong tour will terminate with a sumptuous dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Tangra. There are plans to build a full-fledged Chinese cultural centre inside Tiretta bazaar. "We have asked the government to identify a site for this," said president of Indo-Chinese Association, Paul Chung. Municipal commissioner Alapan Bandopadhyay said KMC would extend its assistance from the heritage funds. "I have asked the association to submit a blueprint. There is a friendly atmosphere developing between India and China. A Lucite policy is on the cards. After many years the city has got a Chinese consulate and Kolkata is now linked to China through direct flights. In the Buddhist Circuit Kolkata has been selected as the base before reaching Bodh Gaya. This is the time to focus on overseas Indian Chinese legacy." "Churches, Chinese clubs and old-age homes in Tangra take priority among the institutions that need to be revived and preserved," said Chung. The association also wants to revive the Nanking restaurant and the temple that houses it. "If we can get back the property we will set up a Chinese museum at Nanking temple," said Chung. The cultural centre will have an exhibition hall, an auditorium for Chinese cultural programmes, another for Chinese movies, a conference room, classes to teach dialects like Mandarin, Cantonese, Chinese and Hakka. Tourists — or even local people — who are interested in making Chinese handicrafts and artifacts can learn the traditional skills here. The association will submit a blueprint to Kolkata Municipal Corporation. Residents are ordering a statue of Chinese poet Lu Hsun from his birthplace in Shaoxint city. There will be Chinese nameplates and signages for Sun Yet Xen and Lu Hsen Streets will be redone in Chinese language. "We will create a complete Chinese environment. A China Gate will be built at the entrance to Tiretta Bazaar. We want KMC to allow the bazaar to be open in the evening too, in the name of Sun Yet Xen," Chung said. "The Chinese community will meet next Thursday to finalize the blueprint and hand it to KMC commissioner," said Chung.



Grand Gateway To Shangri-La

A year after TOI ( May 19 & 20 , 2007 ) brought you a glimpse of what Chinatown could be, the govt & KMC have come up with rejuvenation plans

Somdatta Basu TNN

Cheenapara might soon trade its shabby, unkempt look for a more graceful exterior, complete with elegant gateways and dazzling signages, courtesy the state tourism department. The government has finally decided to take a look at the neglected Chinese settlement in Tangra — India’s lone Chinatown — and chalked up plans for a Rs 1 crore makeover.
That’s only for starters. A major rejuvenation project is on the anvil as part of the “Destination Calcutta” project. And Kolkata Municipal Corporation has its own ‘Alley Tourism’ scheme to make Chinatown a tourist destination.
Soon, visitors to Tangra will not be greeted with overflowing drains, slushy roads and stinking garbage, but three elegant arches on the south, north and east gateways to Chinatown. Decorated with traditional Chinese symbols, idols and dragons, the gates will portray ethnic Chinese architecture. The city’s growth has skipped Chinatown but not for long,” says managing director of West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation, TVN Rao.
Two of the arches will be on Park circus connector and Gobinda Chandra Khatik Road. Each will have a map of Chinatown, marking out traditional landmarks and well known restaurants. “The Park Circus gateway will cost Rs 60 lakh and the Gobinda Chandra Khatik Road arch Rs 30 lakh. The signages will cost Rs 10 lakh,” said Rao.
Tourism minister Manab Mukherjee expects the Union tourism ministry to hand over Rs 1 crore by July. “The state is ready to finance whatever it takes to revamp Chinatown,” he promised.
The tourism department is already planning daylong theme tours. “For the moment, it will only be a visit to the restaurants and the Chinese monastery. But we plan to develop a few new places of interest,” Rao said, adding that they have urged the state government to identify a site in Tangra to set up an ‘interpretation centre’.
It will have information kiosks, shops selling Chinese artifacts, a gymnastics centre and a martial arts school. During the Chinese New Year, tourists will get to see unique shows and dragon dances.
The department is also eager to hold talks with Kolkata Municipal Corporation to clean up Tangra. “To project Chinatown as a tourism destination we will first need to develop the roads. The drainage system needs to be upgraded so that there is no waterlogging during the monsoon. Even the dumping of garbage at street corners by restaurants and locals needs to be stopped,” a senior tourism department official said.


Daylong trip beginning with Chinese breakfast, meandering through the monastery, Chinese temples, churches and museums and stopping by the tomb at Achipur where the first Chinese colony was established. Round-up with a sumptuous dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Tangra


LOCATION : Tiretta Bazaar


  • Language classes for Mandarin, Cantonese, Chinese and Hakka
  • Cookery school for ethnic Chinese cuisine
  • Training centre for Chinese handicraft
  • An exhibition hall and two auditoriums

  • China Gate at entrance to Tangra
  • Statue of Chinese poet Lu Hsun
  • Chinese nameplates, signages

  • Three arches at the entrance of Chinatown portraying ethnic Chinese architecture
  • Tour of Tiretta Bazaar and monastery
  • Interpretation centre with shops for Chinese artifacts, a gymnastics centre and martial arts school
  • Special tourist programmes during Chinese New Year

Surf the Link : ( June 7 , 2008 , Times City , page 2 ) ( May 19 & 20 , 2007 , Kolkata , TOI , Times City , page 2 )

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Grand Revival Plan for Chinatown Legacy


Deserted by 70 per cent of its inhabitants and left to rot by the civic authorities, the city’s decrepit Chinese quarter is suddenly getting the attention denied to it for four decades.

The Calcutta Municipal Corporation (CMC) on Monday announced plans to preserve “200-odd years of Chinese heritage”, its slumber broken by a Metro report on the realty threat to the building that houses the now-defunct fine-dining address, Nanking, and a shrine.

The announcement was made after a delegation from the Indian Chinese Association for Culture, Welfare and Development, led by Paul Chung, met municipal commissioner Alapan Bandyopadhyay to give its suggestions on preserving the Chinese legacy in central Calcutta and the city’s southern suburbs.

“We are concerned about the existence of our church and the site of Nanking Restaurant at Tiretta Bazar since the building has been sold off. We are happy to know that the municipal commissioner has asked police to protect the structure and revoked the permission given by the CMC to the building’s owner to tamper with the structure,” Chung said.

The association has proposed that the building be turned into a heritage institute or museum. Another suggestion is to construct a “China Gate” at Tiretta Bazar as a memorial to Chinatown, which once throbbed with life. “The civic commissioner asked for the proposals in writing,” Chung said.

Mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya claimed that the CMC had already begun “extending civic amenities” to parts of the Chinese colony in east Calcutta. “China has reopened its consulate office in Calcutta after a gap of over 40 years and it is in the fitness of things that we do our bit to preserve the Chinese heritage.”

The city’s Chinese population is a mix of people of Cantonese, Hakka and Hupei origins. The first and largest Chinese settlement is still the one at Tiretta Bazar, now a claustrophobia-inducing maze of crumbling structures standing cheek by jowl with new but uglier buildings.

“This was once a home away from home for the Chinese, with all its temples, opium dens and gambling haunts co-existing with schools, clubs and eateries,” Chung said.

Heritage conservation experts believe any plan to resurrect the city’s Chinese legacy should begin from the horseshoe-shaped red tomb at Achipur, about 50 km away from the city. The tomb is that of the Chinese sailor Tai Pak Kung (also known as Yong Atchew), who set up the first sugar mill in Bengal in 1780 with 110 workers from his native country.

“That humble beginning 230 years ago led to the growth of the Chinese as a community. We need to preserve Atchew’s tomb first,” Chung said.

More than 70 per cent of the city’s 11,000-strong Chinese population in 1962 no longer lives in the city.

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Monday, June 2, 2008

Nanking Restaurant

" The dwindling number of Indian Chinese in Kolkata make it easy to be prey upon. It is a uneasy time when these take place, and a source of unimaginable destruction to our culture and heritage: but with the sense of community pride and cooperative attitude from friends and neighbours, things can turn around and propel it to a phrase of growth. We are sure that there are many well wishers and many among these are eager to offer a helping hands. We, the member of the Indian Chinese community will greatly appreciate your support and encouragement. Please do let us know your feeling and support."

Yours in the service for the growth of our culture

Surf the link below to read between lines :