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Ballygunge (Bengali: বালিগঞ্জ) is an upmarket and elite locality in South Kolkata, India. It is flanked by Park Circus in the north, Kasba and the Eastern Railway south suburban line in the east, Dhakuria and the Lakes (now called Rabindra Sarobar) in the south, and the localities of Bhowanipore and Lansdowne in the west. Reference to a hero/heroine staying in Ballygunge in their own houses (not flats/apartments) in Bengali novels implies that he/she belongs to an affluent and "modern" Bengali family. No other place names in Bengal including undivided Bengal evokes such an instantaneous understanding or response.
It is a large area comprising Ballygunge Circular Road, Ritchie Road, Dover Road, Lovelock Place, Gurusaday Dutta Road, Mayfair Road, Ballygunge Park, Sunny Park, Palm Avenue, Ballygunge Place, Merlin Park, Gariahat Road, Garcha Road, Mandeville Gardens, Gol Park, Kankulia Road, Ballygunj Gardens, Hindustan Park, Hindustan Road, Dover Lane and some portions of Rash Behari Avenue, Hazra Road and Bondel Road. Even a part of Southern Avenue and the Lake Area (adjoining Rabindra Sarobar) is often referred to as Ballygunge though technically (by city pin code) it is not so. Though it covers quite a vast expanse of area, the area near Bijon Setu (near the Ballygunge Station) is termed as Ballygunge (as a railway/ bus/ auto/ taxi stop). The postal code of Ballygunge area is Kolkata 700 019.
History and Development
The term bâli means sand and gônjo marketplace or trading center. It is possible that while the British were digging the Mahratta Ditch as a precautionary measure to fortify the city against invading Maratha warriors, the sand and mud that was dug up used to be piled up in the area currently known as Ballygunge.
The locality started developing with the expansion of Kolkata city beyond the Mahratta Ditch (later the Upper and Lower Circular Roads and now the A.P.C.Road and A.J.C.Bose Road respectively), in the early and mid-20th century. Soon this locality became one of the addresses to have in town, with beautifully laid out areas like Gurusaday Dutta Road, Ballygunge Park, Ballygunge Place, Queens Park, Sunny Park, Hindustan Park, Merlin Park, Ballygunge Circular Road, Ashutosh Chowdhury Avenue, Mayfair Road, Mandeville Gardens. Stately bungalows came up on both sides of the tree-lined avenues and with time, magnificent high rise apartments dotted the skylines. However, the truly aristocratic families continued to have their family homes in North Calcutta. Kasba was a sprawling slum and in the time between the two world wars many middle-class families settled in family homes that were large enough to be sectioned out as flats for rental. Later highrise flats were built in the Kasba area and other parts of Ballygunge.
The Tagore Estate used to have large holdings in the area. Suren Tagore's(Satyendra Nath Tagore ICS's son) house on Gurusaday Dutt Road was later bought by the Birlas, and the house has now become The Birla Industrial & Technological Museum. Others like Sir K G Gupta ICS, Gurusaday Dutt ICS(Founder of the Bratachari Movement - after whom the road was later named), K.K. Birla, B.M. Birla, Raja Anandilal Poddar, H L Somany and Nawab Farooqui also lived on Gurusaday Road. The Maharajah of Tripura built their Calcutta town house on Ballygunge Circular Road. Pramathesh Barua, the famous Bengali film personality, who was the Maharaja of Gouripur(Assam), also lived on Ballygunge Circular Road (now named Pramathesh Barua Sarani). So did the Maharajas of Santosh, Brajendrakishore Raychaudhuri, the zamindar of Gouripore (Bengal), who donated money to the National Council, which later became Jadavpur University, Sir S M Bose, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the first Education Minister of India, Abhay Charan Banerjee (Sir R N Mukherjee's eldest son-in-law), L N Thapar, the industrialist, Suchitra Sen, the actress (she still does live there), Sita and Sachin Chaudhuri, the Finance Minister of India, and the Khaitans of Khaitan & Co, Solicitors. Leila Seth lived with her family on Ballygunge Circular Road. "Maharajah" of Nadia, at present Saumish Chandra Roy of Nadia, has a house on 2, Bright Street. A cantonment area grew between Ballygunge Circular Road and Gurusaday Road, along with several noted colleges and schools. The "Lakes" developed in the inter war years and situated between the Sealdaha - Budge Budge railway tracks and Southern Avenue (Meghnad Saha Sarani)on the North and South and Rabindra Sarobar Stadium and Gol Park on the East and West is a beautiful relaxing place to be in and unwind oneself. The areas near the lakes on its North came to be known as the Rai Sahib-Rai Bahadur's colony because of the number of senior civil servants (bearing those titles) who retired and settled there. Other areas like the serpentine lanes of Fern Road, Kankulia Road(stretches later came to be known as Ballygunj Terrace), Garcha (parts later renamed as Dover Terrace), Motilal Nehru Road, Ballygunge Place East are also a part of Ballygunge.
Although the area reflects the city's problems of over-crowding and pollution, Ballygunge remains a highly sought after residential area. People are prepared to pay fancy prices to own a place there defying economic logic. However, the removal of the "islands" around the tram tracks on Rashbehari Avenue and its trees has reduced its beauty somewhat.
The official residence of the Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court(formerly the residence of Justice Kamal Chandra Chunder), is in Ballygunge and the area has provided state Chief Ministers and Union Cabinet Ministers for the last four decades. The traditional burra sahibs - the senior company executives and bureaucrats - continue to be housed in the locality. The Consulates of Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Myanmar, Norway, Thailand and Turkey are located in Ballygunge as also residences of Honorary Consul General of Chile, Japan, Sri Lanka and Australia trade commission office. The "Indo German Chamber of Commerce" and The Calcutta Cricket and Football Club is on Gurusaday Dutta Road.
As a result, Ballygunge is today one of the most exclusive & posh locales of Kolkata, with land prices among the highest in the city. Since the 1970s colonial bungalows and detached houses have been giving place to multi-storied flats. In the seventies and eighties these were largely "co-operative" initiatives for the Bengali middle class ("Saptaparni", "Parijaat", "Ananda", "Naba Kailash", "Meghamallar" etc.); during the '90s, the developments became increasingly more swank as marble clad high rises were targeted at Calcutta's business communities; and finally the new millennium has seen plush condominiums with swimming pools and other star facilities for the seriously affluent. Recent road development undertaken at the Posh Ballygunge side, Rashbehari-Deshapriya park and Gariahat have improved the infrastructure in the Ballygunge area, although traffic snarls are still quite common along major arteries like Rash Behari Avenue, Gariahat Road, Ashutosh Chowdhury Avenue and Syed Amir Ali Avenue during peak hours.
Shopping and Entertainment
The southern part of the locality consists of the Gariahat - Gol Park area and Rash behari Avenue, renowned for clothes, jewellery, and a fresh food market including fish. It is in Gariahat Market that one can get all varieties of fish of the shelf throughout the year. A number of established retail brands have opened shop in this area and shopping malls are opening up rapidly. Some renowned Multi brand outlets, departmental stores, shops, retailers and wholesellers has set the trends of South Calcutta to becoming exclusively independent. Some of the best addresses are:
- Atria Shopping Centre @ Gurusaday Dutta Road
- Mukti World Mall @ Gariahat Road
- The Gucci Fashion Valley
- Pantaloons store @ Gariahat Road
- Spencer's hyper store @ Rashbehari Avenue
- Tanishq showrooms @ Gariahat Road & Mukti World Mall
- The Raymond Store @ Gariahat Road & Rashbehari Avenue
- PC Chandra Jewellers @ Gariahat Road & Hindustan Park
- Ballygunge New Market @ Gariahat Road
- Haldirams Food City @ Ballygunge Park
- Mainland China
- Krystal Chop Stick
- Chinese Pavilion
- Red Hot Chilli Pepper
- China Whites
- Green Chilli
- Amoda spa souk
- Indus Valley
- Linus food court
- Sky Lounge
- Bluzz Lounge Bar
- Mirch Masala
- 6 Ballygunge Place
- The Grub Club
- 13 Paarbon
- Bhajahari Manna
- Baked N Fried
- Soi 19
- Casa Toscana
Cafe & Fast Food
- Domino's Pizza (Ballygunge Circular Road, Ballygunge Station Road)
- Cafe Coffee Day (Ballygunge Circular Road, Ritchie Road, Lake Road, Golpark)
- Coffee World
- Aqua Java Fast Food Center(Loudon Street,Mani Square,Elgin Road,Wood Street,New Alipore,Cross Word)
- Garden Cafe
Ice Cream Parlours
- Mamma Mia Gelato
- The Cream and Fudge Factory
- Fruity Freeze
Confectionery & Patisseries
- The Cream and Fudge Factory
- Upper Crust
- Sugar & Spice
- Ganguram & sons
- Junior Brothers
- Gupta Brothers
- The Dhaba
- Azad Hind Dhaba
- Sharma Dhaba
"Junk" - "Phuchka" stalls on the eastern boundary of Vivekananda Park and outside along with "Jhaal Muri" stalls. The best phuckas are obtainable in front of "Kola Villa" in Gol Park and "Jhal Muri on the footpath just before (South of) the DCM showroom. Junior Brothers on Rashbehari Avenue near Triangular Park has the best "Dahi Kachauris".
The area between Gariahat and Gol Park has several used-book stores lining the footpaths. At their best, they are nearly equal to the more-renowned College Street and Free School Street (Mirza Ghalib Street) booksellers. From disposable chart-topping thrillers to arcane magazines, they stock a large variety of titles. However, this market faces periodic fits of 'hawker evictions'by the police whenever elections are far away.
Sports and Culture
Further south is the Lake area, open green spaces and water bodies which act as lungs to the city. The Lake Stadium (Rabindra Sarobar Stadium) is here, and swimming and rowing institutions are dotted around the area. Of note are the Indian Life Saving Society (founded 1922 but known to one and all as Anderson Club), the Calcutta Rowing Club (established in 1858) and the Bengal Rowing Club (founded 1929 as the Marwari Rowing Club).
Ballygunge is also noted for several established [Durga Puja] pandals - Ekdalia Park (on Ekdalia Road), Singhi Park (on Dover lane), Adi Ballygunge Sarbojonin, Ballygunge Cultural, Deshapriya Park, Gol Park, Jagarani, Adi Kankulia etc. (during the Puja season in September/October).
Ballygunge is also home to the Dover Lane Music Festival, held annually, which is noted for its participants who hail from the best of Indian classical music. Noted dancer and choreographer, Uday Shankar (elder brother of Ravi Shankar) used to live in the area. His wife Amala Shankar, their son: Ananda Shankar, and their daughter: Mamata Shankar continue to reside and run teaching establishments in Ballygunge. Rabindrasangeet is taught at a number of institutions in the locality, of which, Dakshini is perhaps the most celebrated.
Ballygunge Railway Station is an important junction on the Kolkata suburban railway (Sealdah South Section) of the Eastern Railway suburban service. It is here that the lines to Lakhsmikantapur, Canning and Diamond Harbour on the one hand and Budge Budge on the other fork out. The Calcutta Tramways Company has a depot 45 no.bus in the locality on Gariahat Road; the government bus services also maintains a depot next to Ballygunj Station. The underground Metro railway skirts Ballygunge, the closest station being Jatin Das Park and Kalighat being about 2 km away from Gariahat-Rashbehari Avenue Crossing.
Ballygunge is home to some of the better educational institutions in Kolkata:
- Army Public School, Kolkata, Ballygunge maidan camp
- Ballygunge Government High School, Beltala
- Ballygunge Shiksha Sadan, Gariahat Road
- Ballygunge Science College, Ballygunge Circular Road
- Basanti Devi College, 147B Rash Behari Avenue, Kolkata-700029
- Jagadbandhu Institution, 25, Fern Road, Kolkata. PIN 700019
- Kamala Girls' High School, Lake Road (Kavi Bharati Sarani)
- Kendriya Vidyalaya Ballygunge, Kolkata, Ballygunge maidan camp
- Lake Girls' School, Lake Terrace, Kolkata
- Modern High School for Girls, Syed Amir Ali Avenue
- Patha Bhavan (Montessory, Primary, High and Higher Secondary Schools), Swinhoe Street, Ekdalia Road, Palm Avenue, Ballygunge Place and Merlin Park
- South City College, Golpark
- South Point School, Mandeville Gardens
- St. Lawrence High School, Ballygunge Circular Road
- Tirthapati Institution, Rash Behari Avenue
- University Law College, Hazra Road
- South Calcutta Law College, Swinhoe Street
Places of interest
- Gariahat Market, centred at the crossing of Rash Behari Avenue and Gariahat Road (known as Gariahat more)
- Birla Mandir, Kolkata on Ashutosh Chowdhury Avenue (near Ballygunge Phari)
- Ice Skating Rink, Syed Amir Ali Avenue (Opposite to Ballygunge Park Road)
- Birla Industrial & Technological Museum, Gurusaday Dutta Road
- Max Mueller Bhavan, Ballygunge Circular Road
- Bharat Sevashram Sangha, Rash Behari Avenue (near Ballygunge Station)
- Calcutta Cricket & Football Club (CC&FC), Ashutosh Chowdhury Avenue & Gurusaday Dutta Road crossing
- Calcutta Cosmopolitan Club, Ballygunge Circular Road
- Calcutta Punjab Club, Ballygunge Circular Road
- Rabindra Sarobar (Dhakuria Lakes, the biggest open area after Maidan in Calcutta) at Southern Avenue
- Ramakrishna Mission at Golpark, a big library and international convention centre
- Birla Academy of Art & Culture on Southern Avenue
- Lake Kalibari, Southern Avenue
- Dakshin Kalikata Samsad, Deshapriya Park
- Dalhousie Institute, Jhowtalla Road
- Punjabi Bradree, Mayfair Road
- Deshapriya Park, a large open area with an integrated club adjacent to it
- Vivekananda Park, a large open air park with cricket academy.
- Maddox Square, on Ritchie Road-having a rose garden
- Triangular Park, junction of Purnadas Road and Rash Behari Avenue
- Mahanirban Math, opposite of Triangular Park
- Lake Stadium, Southern Avenue
- Nazrul Mancha, Rabindra Sarobar
- Buddhist Temple, Lake Temple Road
- Priya Cinema, Rash behari Avenue
- Jibanananda Das,the most famous poet in the post Rabindranath period in Bengali literature, lived on Rash Behari Avenue. He was killed in a tragic tram accident near the Lansdowne - Rash Behari Avenue crossing.
- Dr Subhas Mukhopadhyay,the noted physician, who is credited with the second "test tube" birth in the world, lived at Southern Avenue. His life forms the basis for the film Ek Doctor Ki Maut.
- Satyendranath Tagore, first Indian I.C.S. Officer, and elder brother of Rabindra Nath, built a house on Store Road (now Gurusaday Dutt Road), which is now the Birla Industrial & Technological Museum (Gurusaday Dutt Road).
- Indira Devi Choudhurani, daughter of Satyendra Nath, wife of Pramatha Choudhuri, and once a muse of Rabindra Nath lived at 2 Bright Street (subsequently purchased by the Maharajahs of Nadia and today known as "Nadia House"). The house was purchased by Satyendra Nath for his only daughter and he died here.
- Swarnakumari Devi (Mrs J. N. Ghosal), elder sister of Rabindra Nath, mother of Sir Jyotsna Nath Ghosal, ICS, lived with the latter at his house: 3 Sunny Park.
- Gurusaday Dutt, ICS, authority on folk art and folk dances of Bengal and Founder of the Bratachari Movement and the Saroj Nalini Dutt Memorial Association for women's welfare, lived on Store Road which now bears his name
- Ghanshyam Das Birla, businessman and industrialist used to stay at Gurusaday Dutt Rd, where his descendants continue to live.
- Satyendra Chandra Mitra, noted Congress leader and first President of the Bengal Legislative Council (1937–42)lived at 20 Southend Park.
- Jyoti Basu, former Chief Minister of West Bengal has his ancestral house at 55B Hindustan Park and lived there till the mid eighties
- Buddhadev Bhattacharya, former Chief Minister of West Bengal, lives at 59A Palm Avenue
- Somnath Chatterjee, Speaker of the House of the People (Lok Sabha) occupies his ancestral house at P514 Raja Basanta Roy Road
- Pranab Mukherjee, Union Cabinet Minister (responsible at various times for Finance, Commerce, External Affairs and Defence Ministries)and the present president of India has a residence at 60/2/7 Lake Road
- Indrajit Gupta, once Union Home Minister, General Secretary of the Communist Party of India, elected MP for 9 sessions, lived at 1 Dover Road (ancestral house)
- Sir Bepin Behary Ghose, Law Member of the Viceroy's Executive Council lived at 11 Dover Lane.
- Justice P.B. Chakravartti, first Indian to be the permanent Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court, used to live on Southern Avenue.
- Dr. Nares Chandra Sen-Gupta, Noted Bengali novelist and legal scholar, lived at 22/26 Monoharpukur Road and Cooper Street prior to that which has since been renamed after him.
- Aroti Dutt well-known Social Worker, former President of the Associated Country Women of the World and of Saroj Nalini Dutt Memorial Association, lived on Gurusaday Dutt Rd.
- Justice Padma Khastagir, the first woman to sit on the Calcutta High Court Bench (and Acting Chief Justice) used to live in Southend Park.
- Sir Jadunath Sircar, Padma Vibhushan, noted historian, once Vice Chancellor of Calcutta University, used to live at 10 Lake Terrace.
- Prof. Meghnad Saha, noted physicist, founder of the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, used to live on what is now Southern Avenue.
- Sir Asutosh Chaudhuri, High Court Judge, close friend of Rabindra Nath Tagore, political leader lived in Old Ballygunge.
- Sarat Chandra Chatterjee noted Bengali novelist lived on Ashwini Dutt Road.
- Raja Vasanta Krishna Raya Dev A South Indian name that is synonymous with the history of South Kolkata. An educationist of fame who built one of the first houses in the wilderness of South Kolkata. Honoured with the title of Raja for the royal style in which he lived his life, the name Raja Basant Roy road is a corruption of his name. The property 'Mohini Malancha' is probably the only living example of the popular courtyard style house of the nineteenth century in all of new Kolkata.
- Satyajit Ray, film maker of worldwide fame, Academy Award Winner, used to live on Lake Temple Road.
- Suchitra Sen, famous Bengali film actress lives on Ballygunge Circular Road.
- Hemanta Mukherjee, doyen of Bengali music, (known as Hemant Kumar to the fans of his Hindi songs) used to live on Lake Avenue.
- Sachin Dev Burman lived in a house that he built in Southend Park.
- Suchitra Mitra, noted exponent of Rabindra Sangeet, used to live on Swinhoe Street.
- Buddhadeva Bose, a major Bengali writer of the twentieth century, the most multi-talented amongst those belonging to what is for convenience termed the 'post-Tagore' period, used to live at 202 Rash Behari Avenue.
- Sunil Gangopadhyay, well known novelist and poet, lived in Mandeville Gardens
- Buddhadeb Guha, well known novelist and poet, and his wife, noted exponent of Rabindra Sangeet Ritu Guha live on Ashutosh Chowdhury Avenue
- Ruma Guha Thakurta, Singer, Actress and founder of Calcutta Youth Choir, lives at 38 Ballygunge Place.
- Dhrubojyoti Sengupta the junior-most magician of the World, his date of birth is 26-12 1995. date of his debut performance was 29-01-1999 at his age of 3 years 29 days. He completed his 10 years of magical performances on 29-01-2009 and was felicitated at Rabindra Sadan, Kolkata on very date by distinguished personalities of Bengal. He received various international and national awards.He is a student of class VIII of PATHA-BHAVAN School.
- Arghya Sen and Ashoketaru Banerjee, noted exponents of Rabindrasangeet, live in Ballygunge Place and Purnadas Road, respectively.
- Rabindrasangeet singers: Sumitra Sen and her two daughters, Indrani and Srabani, live on Ballygunge Circular Road.
- Nabanita Deb Sen, Littérateur, and only daughter of the poets Naren Dev and Radharani Devi, former wife of Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, lives in the ancestral house "Bhaalobasha", 72 Hindustan Park.
- Linguist, educationist, littérateur Professor Suniti Kumar Chattopadhyay, DLitt who did pioneering work on the origin and development of the Bengali language lived on Hindustan Park
- Subrata Mukherjee, former Mayor of Kolkata, stays on Ekdalia Road.
- P. C. Sorcar, Jr., magician, stays (like his father before him) on Ballygunge Station Road.
- Mani Shankar Mukherjee (Shankar), well known Bengali writer and one of the best sellers in Bengali literature, stays at a flat on Bondel Road, Ballygunge.
- Prof. Pranab Kumar Mitra Noted Medical Practitioner, Teacher and Poet resides in Kankulia Road.
- Anup Ghoshal, eminent singer in Bengali films lives in Mandeville Gardens.
- Debabrata Biswas, Famous Rabindra Sangeet exponent had his house behind Triangular Park on Purna Das Road.
- Satrughna Kanta Acharyya, noted agriculturalist and art collector, lives at Jatin Das Road.
- Satyabrata (Raju) Mukherji, the former captain of the Bengal Cricket Team, lives at Lake Road.
- Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, University Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University in the City of New York, was born and grew up in Old Ballygunge and still lives there on her frequent visits.
- Shalini Ganguli, noted copywriter and a prominent Page 3 Personality. Famous for having met all the famous people one can think of. Right from Tenzin Wangdi to Vaibhav Bhatnagar.
- Sri Krishna Dev Srowthigal Resided in 81 Nakuleshwar Bhattacharjee Lane and was solely responsible for the spreading of Sanskrit Education throuch Shankara Hall in Kolkata. He later moved to his ancestral home 'Mohini Malancha' on Raja Basant roy road after a long standing dispute was settled between other members of the same extended family in the later years of his life.
- Pranati Tagore, a renowned Bengali elocutionist and a cultural figure and a recipient of the Bharat Nirman Award in Bengal resides in Hazra Road.
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