Saturday, June 7, 2008



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 )

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