|Neighbourhood in Kolkata (Calcutta)|
House of Rani Rashmoni
|Elevation||36 ft (11 m)|
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
|Area code(s)||+91 33|
Janbazar (Bengali: জানবাজার) is a neighbourhood in central Kolkata, earlier known as Calcutta, in the Indian state of West Bengal. The two century-old house of Rani Rashmoni, the central attraction in Janbazar, is still used by descendants in the family.
Janbazar was one of the thirty-one police stations in the earliest list of police stations in Kolkata, prepared in 1785. However, it vanished after a reorganisation.
After their victory in the Battle of Plassey, the English decided to build new Fort William, in 1758. The native population shifted from Gobindapur mostly to Sutanuti. The European inhabitants of Kalikata gradually forsook the narrow limits of the old palisades and moved to around the Maidan. Civilians were not allowed to live within the new fort. Gradually the areas to the south of the Great Tank and to the east along Chowringhee Road were emerging as preferred haunts for the Englishmen. Thus, while Sutanuti emerged as the Black Town, the Esplanade and Chowringhee emerged as the White Town.
Initially, the area between Jan Bazar Road (as it was then known) and Park Street attracted some 40 Europeans to build their residences there. However, the areas around Writers' building, Baitakkhana (Boubazar), Dharmatala and Janbazar went down in estimation and were gradually taken over by 'the rest', which included half-castes, Portuguese, Armenians and so on, 'to become grey areas between Black and White Towns of old Kolkata'.
Janbazar is broadly spread across Ward Nos. 52 and 46 of Kolkata Municipal Corporation.
The road from Chowringhee to Circular Road, about a mile long, was called Jan Bazar Road till the end of the 19th century. It was then renamed Corporation Street and was further renamed Surendranath Banerjee Road.
In olden days, Kolkata streets had oil lamps. Then came the gas lamp and electricity. For sometime there was a tussle between gas lamps and electricity. In 1914, high-powered Keith lamps of 1,000 candle power were fixed on Corporation Street, and Chowringhee Road. Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation bore the cost to demonstrate the advantage of electricity.
Rani Rashmoni's house
The most famous resident of Janbazar was Rani Rashmoni. Married at the age of 11 to Raj Chandra Das (Marh), the zamindar of Janbazar, she constructed Dakshineswar Kali Temple and engaged in numerous philanthropic activities.
What is now known as Rani Rashmoni's house at the crossing of Rani Rashmoni Road and Surendranath Banerjee Road, was initially 70&71 Free School Street. Rani Rashmoni's father-in-law, Pritiram Das, started constructing this house in 1805. It took some 7–8 years to complete construction of the big house.
Rani Rashmoni did not have a son, she had four daughters – Padmamani, Kumari, Karunamoyee and Jagadamba. Karunamoyee died two years after her marriage. Mathuramohan Biswas, the widower, was married to Jagadamba. The house is now divided into three parts. Jagadamba's descendants live in 13 Rani Rashmoni Road, Kumari's descendants live in 18/3 Surendranath Banerjee Road, and Padmamani's descendants live in 20 Surendranath Banerjee Road.
Rani Rashmoni was a pillar of strength in the male dominated society of mid-nineteenth century. Almost all the rooms of her house are occupied or are still in use. There is a natmandir in front of the verandah, where the famous Durga Puja is held. The family is finding it difficult to maintain the house and although Kolkata Municipal Corporation has declared it a heritage building, it has no funds needed for restoration. Parts of the house are collapsing.
The traffic along Surendranath Banerjee Road, across Janbazar, is extremely heavy. Normally, it is a scene of chaos and when a mishap takes place, it is further chaos.
Hogg Street with Futnani Chambers on the left and Corporation building on the right, declared a heritage building by KMC
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- "Pillars of strength, then and now". Kolkata Plus. The Statesman, 7 May 2003. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 10 August 2007.
- "Trapped in heritage cave-in - Water tank collapse linked to heavy showers". The Telegraph, 5 October 2006. Retrieved 10 August 2007.
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