Rajabazar is a locality in the city of Kolkata in West Bengal, India. It is located approximately in North-Central Kolkata, between CIT Road and AJC Bose Road. The locality has grown around Narkeldanaga Main Road, now renamed as Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Sarani, which acts as a connector between CIT Road and AJC Bose Road. Thus, Rajabazar can be said to be located between Phoolbagan, Narkeldanga and Sealdah.
Rajabazar is in a prime location, and Sealdah Railway Station is a stone's throw distance from Rajabazar crossing. There is a tram depot in Rajabazar also. All civic amenities, such as hospitals, colleges, schools, sanitation, malls, gyms, shopping complexes, cinema halls, mosques are located in and around Rajabazar. Dr. B. C. Roy Children's Hospital is located at a distance of 2–3 km from Rajabazar.
Rajabazar grew around an old market-place, or bazaar, near Sealdah, on the APC Bose Road. The market exists today, and was initially called "Raja Ramlochan-er Bazaar" in Bengali. The bazaar was established about1842 AD on land owned by Raja Ramlochun Ray, a petty zamindar, by Muslim merchants, businessmen, butchers and cattle traders from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, who had immigrated to Calcutta due to the poor economic condition of Muslims in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh following the Sepoy Mutiny. However, Rajabazar area was settled by Urdu-speaking Muslims from 1880 onwards. The market-place colony was established around the same time as the Harrison Road, now called Mahatma Gandhi Road, was being built in Calcutta, connecting Sealdah station to Howrah station. A mosque was built which still exists today known as the Rajabazar Barri Masjid and there is another larger mosque being renovated which is Jama Masjid Darur-Salaam on Narkeldanga Main Road and several residential quarters were established around that area. A police station (Narkeldanga Police Station) was established in 1915, near the canal, on Canal West road. The area is known as "Khalpul" due to the bridge over the canal that connects Rajabazar to Narkeldanga. Before the building of the bridge in 1910, there was a bamboo-stilt bridge over the canal. Boat ferries were also used to transport people and supplies across the canal. Over the decades, further population growth and immigration resulted in the growth and extension of the original settlement further, up to Narkeldanga and Phoolbagan in the east, Sealdah to the south, Mechua and Kelabagan to the west, and further north. Today, the area is densely populated and crowded, with alleys and lanes established. In the Partition of India riots in 1947, in which Muslims were targeted across Calcutta and Bihar, many Muslims from other parts, like Sealdah, Manicktalla and Beliaghata moved to Rajabazar. The anti-Muslim riots in Calcutta in 1964, further made Muslims living in areas like Manicktalla, Sealdah, Beliaghata, and throughout Calcutta, flock to Rajabazar for safety. Over time, therefore, it got transformed into a ghetto. After the 1992-93 Hindu-Muslim riots in Calcutta, further Muslims moved to Rajabazar, as a result of which, today, Rajabazar boasts of having the second largest Muslim population in Calcutta after Metiabruz.
There is a shrine (mazaar) of a Muslim Sufi saint in Rajabazar. The area spans the canal, and crosses over the bridge. There are 9 Mosques located at Rajabazar. The bazaar is famous for its jewellery (SHYAM JEWELLERS is the most prestigious Jeweller), bangles, kites, sweetmeats and mutton and beef shops. Rajabazaar is a major cattle and goat trading center in West Bengal called Bakrichar. A movie hall, "Tasveer Mahal", is also located at Rajabazar.
Majority (80 percent) of the population of Rajabazar is Sunni Muslim, mostly Urdu-speaking, descended from immigrants from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Mostly Deobandi theology is practised here, and barelwi theology population also co-exists peacefully. Many Hindus also live at Rajabazaar. Most of the population is middle-class and lower-middle class, but many rich, educated Muslims also live here in high-rises. There are a total of 11 mosques in the area, 9 managed by the Tablighi Jamaat (Deobandi), and 2 managed by the Sunni Barelwi sect.
BC Roy Memorial Hospital is located at a stone's throw distance from Rajabaar, and Calcutta Medical College and Hospital is located just 5 km away, on College Street. Narkeldanga Police Station is located right in the heart and center of Rajabazar. Sealdah Railway Station and Rajabazar Tram Depot provide ample transport opportunities. Buses on Routes 44, 12C/2, 202, 30D, 34C, 230 and 30C/1 ply by Rajabazaar, besides there is the Kidderpore-Rajabazar minibus and the Metiabruz-Rajabara minibus. The Mechua-Kadapara-Phoolbagan auto route plies through Rajabazaar.
For a long time Rajabazar was notorious as being one of the worst areas in Kolkata in terms of sanitation, cleanliness and amenities. However, from the late 1990s onwards, the pace has been slowly picked up on development, mainly through the efforts of local leaders.
Kolkata Municipal Corporation
The area of Rajabazar is composed of Wards 29, 28, 36 and 32 of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation. These wards were created in 1909. Presently, the KMC maintains health centres and free malaria check-up centres in these wards. The elected Councillor of Ward 28 is Mrs. Farzana Alam of the Trinamool Congress, who is the Deputy Mayor of Kolkata. Rajabazar is part of the Sealdah (Vidhan Sabha constituency). However, many parts of it also fall in the Beliaghata (Vidhan Sabha constituency). It is a part of the Kolkata Uttar Lok Sabha constituency. Previously it was a part of Calcutta North East Lok Sabha constituency.
Kolkata is a major hub for students, pursuing financial studies.
Momin High School, a Government-aided co-educational Urdu-medium school affiliated to the West Bengal Board of Higher Secondary Education, is located in Rajabazar. It was founded in 1945 by the Momin Education Board to improve the educational opportunities of the minority community. One of its founding members Haji Abdur Rahim has famous soap Company named Nawab Soap Company. For most of its existence it has suffered from a lack of funding, perhaps due to the role of the Muslim League Government in its founding.
A new school, Rajabazar Boys & Girls' School, another co-educational English-medium school has been founded for minority people in the heart of the Rajabazar locality. This school was founded by Md. Kamal, General Secretary of the school about 10 years back with the help of some political leaders and few intellectuals. It is aimed at providing a quality English-medium education to Muslims without having to resort to missionary-run Christian schools. In August 2008, the school itself got a nomination for "School of Minority Commission". Presently the School has more than a thousand students from all over Central Kolkata, mostly from the lower income groups.
Established in 2007, Azad National Coaching Centre (in the premises of Azad National Day & Night School) also find a good place in Raja Bazar to provide quality education to the students of secondary classes (class VIII, IX & X) who can't afford the tuition fees payable to private tutors. In January 2012, due to some internal problem with the management of Azad National Day & Night School, the coaching has been merged with Community Coaching & Counselling Center (c/o Baitulmal Girls High School and already providing coaching to the students of HS section). The coaching also provides coaching for competitive examination like WBCS, SSC etc.