|Neighbourhood in Kolkata (Calcutta)|
Shyambazar five – point crossing with statue of Netaji Subhas
|Parliamentary constituency||Kolkata Uttar|
|Elevation||36 ft (11 m)|
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
|Area code(s)||+91 33|
Shyambazar (Bengali: শ্যামবাজার) is a neighbourhood in north Kolkata, earlier known as Calcutta, in the Indian state of West Bengal. The area, under Shyampukur police station of Kolkata Police, has been, along with neighbouring Bagbazar, the citadel of the Bengali aristocracy, in a part of what was earlier known as Sutanuti.
Origin of the name
There was a big market in the area, which Holwell called Charles Bazar. The present designation was conferred upon it by Sobharam Basak, in honour of Shyam Rai (or Gobinda), the attendant of the goddess Kali. The Basaks and the Setts were amongst the first to have settled in Sutanuti, after having cleared the jungles. Sobharam Basak was one of the wealthiest native inhabitants of 18th century Kolkata.
Growth and development of the neighbourhood and surrounding localities largely followed the construction of roads that opened up the area. Sutanuti had no roads, except the pilgrim path extending across it from Halisahar to Barisha. Chitpur Road (renamed Rabindra Sarani) was developed along this path. It passed through neighbouring Bagbazar and Chitpur. Road construction picked up in the early 19th century. The Lottery Commission (1817) and its successor the Lottery Committee (1836) opened up the native parts of old Kolkata. The main axial thrusts were from south to the north, parallel to the existing Chowringhee – Chitpur alignment.
The three-mile long Maratha Ditch was excavated in 1742 as a protection against the marauding Maratha soldiers then foraging in the countryside but who never came. It was filled up in 1799 to build the Circular Road, that ran from Shyambazar, right around old Kolkata, covering the southern end of the Maidan. It was metalled in the early 19th century. Around the same time, the most important axial thoroughfare from south to north — Wood Street (portion renamed Dr. Martin Luther King Sarani), Wellesley Street (renamed Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Street), Wellington Street (renamed Nirmal Chandra Street), College Street and Cornwallis Street (renamed Bidhan Sarani) — was built by the Lottery Committee. The new road to Barrackpur (now called Barrackpur Trunk Road and partly Bidhan Sarani) and R.G.Kar Road also converged at the same point. Subsequently, the extension of Central Avenue (the Shyambazar end is now called Bhupen Bose Avenue), which was built by the Kolkata Improvement Trust formed in 1911, also converged on the same point, making Shyambazar five-point crossing one of the busiest street crossings in Kolkata.
Horse drawn tram cars were introduced up to Shyambazar in 1882 and in 1899, Calcutta Tramways Company Limited introduced electric traction. In 1902 the entire system was electrified. Subsequently, tramways were extended to Belgachia. In 1941, tram tracks were laid along Circular Road. For many years tram cars were the only form of mass transport in Kolkata. Although the first motor car appeared in Kolkata in1896, motor bus services started only in 1920. Shyambazar tram depot is on Bidhan Sarani, near the five-point crossing. Circular Road had a garbage clearance light railway up to the early fifties.
The Shyambazar metro station of Kolkata Metro is also located at Shyambazar five – point crossing. Belgachia – Shyambazar section, along with Dum Dum – Belgachia stretch, was opened on August 13, 1994 and the Shyambazar – Shovabazar – Girish Park and Chandni Chowk – Central sections were opened on February 19, 1995. Services on the entire stretch of Metro, from Dum Dum to Tollygunge were introduced from September 27, 1995 While most of the metro railway was constructed by the cut and cover process, the Shyambazar – Belgachia stretch was constructed by tunnelling.
Shyambazar is the focal point of shopping in north Kolkata. In fabrics and clothing, it can match College Street-Mahatma Gandhi Road crossing in central Kolkata or Gariahat in south Kolkata. In Jewellery, it can match Bowbazar in central Calcutta or Gariahat in south Kolkata. The once famous house of jewellers, M B Sircar of Shyambazar,Senco Gold, has given way to numerous shops of descendants using variations of the name, all across the city. In sweet meat, the old favourites of Shyambazar are Dwarik Ghosh and Sen Mahasay. Old timers will remember shops such as sweet-meat seller Jalajog or a popular restaurant like Golbari.
In traditional Bengali families, new clothes are a must for the Bengali New Year.Srineketan is one of the major shopping mall of the region. Braving the scorching afternoon heat and drizzles in the evening, people throng at roadside shops for the Chaitra sale offering attractive concessions. Shyambazar vies with New Market and Gariahat as the most crowded markets in Kolkata. The Shyambazar – Hatibagan area also caters extensively to customers on the eve of Durga Puja and for weddings, apart from daily necessities. A newspaper columnist wrote, “A formidable matron with husband and children in tow wading through the crowds at Gariahat and Shyambazar is a familiar sight on the eve of Poila Baishakh.
Shyambazar has two regular markets — Shyambazar and Hatibagan. As Shyambazar is a popular shopping area, the footpaths have virtually been taken over by hawkers, who spread out their fare all over the place. It may be recalled that Kolkata Municipal Corporation had conducted Operation Sunshine in 1996 to remove hawkers from Gariahat and Shyambazar. Following the hawker removal drive, KMC had issued a notification imposing certain restrictions on the movement of hawkers on 21 streets in the city. However, everything seems to be back to the square one. In 2002, a decision was taken by the KMC to keep one-third of the pavement vacant for passers-by.
As Shyambazar is a crowded residential and shopping locality, there are few play grounds here. However, Mohun Bagan AC, one of Kolkata’s leading sports clubs, had its first play ground at what is now Mohun Bagan Row. A plaque announces that the first play ground was in Mohun Bagan Villa from 1889-1892. Kolkata has a deep passion for football but other sports too have developed with time and have gained their share of importance and popularity as well. Tennis is one of them. Shyambazar Tennis Club operates regularly at Deshbandhu Park.
Shyambazar has traditionally been an entertainment neighbourhood. Nabin Chandra Basu staged the first Bengali production Bidyasundar at his Shyambazar home theatre in 1835. Later in the 19th century, crucial roles were played by Bagbazar Amateur Theatre and Shyambazar Natya Samaj, in highlighting the demand for public commercial theatres open to the public, as opposed to private home theatres of the rich.
With five cinema halls — Radha, Rupbani, Minar, Mitra and Darpana — in a row along Bidhan Sarani, Shyambazar was called cinema neighbourhood. The Bengali films that they screened were particularly popular with the housewives, who used to crowd the afternoon shows. Talkie Show House in Phariapikur was an outlet mostly for English films. With the advent of television both theatre and cinema has been badly hit.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Shyambazar.|
Kolkata/North Kolkata travel guide from Wikivoyage