Great Eastern Hotel (Kolkata)

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The LaLiT Great Eastern Hotel
Great Eastern Entry.jpg
The LaLiT Great Eastern Hotel, Entrance
General information
LocationKolkata, West Bengal, India
Opening1840 (closed 2005) Reopened 19 Nov 2013
OwnerThe LaLiT Hotels
Other information
Number of restaurants5
The LaLiT Great Eastern Hotel (Kolkata), Lobby
The Great Eastern Hotel Calcutta in 1865
Another image, taken between 1850 and 1870
Renovation going on after it was taken over by LaLiT

The Great Eastern Hotel (officially The LaLiT Great Eastern Kolkata) is a colonial era hotel in the Indian city of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta). The hotel was established in 1840 or 1841; at a time when Calcutta, the seat of the East India Company, was the most important city in India. Referred to as "the Jewel of the East" in its heyday, Great Eastern Hotel hosted several notable persons visiting the city. After India's independence in 1947, the hotel continued its business but went into decline during the Naxalite era of West Bengal; later the state government took over the management. In 2005 it was sold to a private company and was reopened in November 2013 after an extensive renovation.

History[edit]

The British brought modern hotels to Kolkata. The Oldest was John Spence's Hotel. Spence's, the first ever hotel in Asia was opened to the public in 1830. The Great Eastern Hotel was established in 1840 or 1841 by David Wilson as the Auckland Hotel, named after George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland, then Governor General of India.[1] Prior to opening the hotel, Wilson ran a bakery at the same site.[2] The hotel opened with 100 rooms and a department store on the ground floor (Spence's Hotel, established in 1830 but no longer in existence, is considered to be the first major hotel in Calcutta).[3] The Auckland was expanded in the 1860s and its managing company renamed from D. Wilson and Co. to Great Eastern Hotel Wine and General Purveying Co. It was also amongst the first to have an Indian on its board of directors, in 1859.[1] It became the Great Eastern Hotel in 1915.[4] In 1883 the premises of the hotel were electrified, thus probably becoming the first hotel in India, to be illuminated by electricity.[5]

During its heyday, the hotel was known variously as the "Jewel of the East"[1] and the "Savoy of the East"[4] and was prosaically described by Kipling in his short story City of Dreadful Night.[1] It was said of the hotel in 1883 that "a man could walk in at one end, buy a complete outfit, a wedding present, or seeds for the garden, have an excellent meal, a burra peg (double) and if the barmaid was agreeable, walk out at the other end engaged to be married".[6] The hotel has housed many famous personalities including Nikita Khrushchev and Nikolai Bulganin,[4] Elizabeth II,[1] Mark Twain,[4] Dave Brubeck,[7] and possibly Ho Chi Minh.[1] The decline of the hotel began during the Naxalite era in West Bengal[4] and continued into the 1970s when its management was taken over by the state government.[1] The state sold it to the private group The LaLiT Hotels, Palaces and Resorts in 2005.[4] Until its closure for restoration in 2005, the hotel was the longest continuously operating hotel in Asia.[8]

The hotel remained closed for a number of years for extensive renovations. It reopened with a soft launch as The LaLiT Great Eastern Hotel on 19 November 2013.[9] The building is registered as a heritage structure and the renovations maintained essential features of the building, such as its facade and the grand staircase.[10] The hotel has been divided into three parts - Heritage I, Heritage II and New Block.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Chattopadhyay, Suhrid Sankar (13 August 2005). "Hotel with a history". Frontline. 22 (17). Retrieved 11 April 2013.
  2. ^ Massey, Montague (1918). Recollections of Calcutta over Half a Century. p. 69.
  3. ^ Denby, Elaine (April 2004). Grand Hotels: Reality and Illusion. Reaktion. p. 197.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Mookerjee, Madhumita; Chaudhuri, Sumanta Ray (20 November 2005). "End of an era: Great Eastern changes hands". DNA. Retrieved 11 April 2013.
  5. ^ Chattopadhyay, Suhrid Shankar (13 August 2005). "Hotel with a History". 22 (17). Frontline. Retrieved 20 May 2016.
  6. ^ Dasgupta, Minakshie; Gupta, Bunny; Chaliha, Aya (March 1995). Calcutta Cookbook: A Treasury of Recipes from Pavement to Place. Penguin Books. p. 158.
  7. ^ Crist, Steven A. (Spring 2009). "Deff Brubeck and Cold War politics". Journal of Musicology. 26 (2): 133–174. doi:10.1525/jm.2009.26.2.133. JSTOR 10.1525/jm.2009.26.2.133.
  8. ^ Dutta, Indrani (20 November 2012). "Great Eastern Hotel set for re-launch". The Hindu. Retrieved 11 April 2013.
  9. ^ "Revamped, renamed, Kolkata's Great Eastern Hotel returns Nov 19". Indian Express. 25 August 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2013.
  10. ^ Pandey, Jhimli Mukherjee (17 May 2012). "Swanky new Great Eastern may be thrown open by year-end". Times of India. Retrieved 11 April 2013.
  11. ^ "Mamata's Ganesha unveils new-look Great Eastern". The Telegraph. 20 November 2013. Retrieved 20 November 2013.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 22°34′06″N 88°20′58″E / 22.5684°N 88.3495°E / 22.5684; 88.3495