Calcutta rare photos – A collection from British era

September 21, 2006 at 3:57 am 45 comments

recognize these photos? This collection is from a military photographer, Mr Claude Waddel, who was posted at calcutta during 1945-46. a rare collection, indeed. you can see the entire collection here

the old chowringhee

Chowringhee Street—Calcutta’s main throughfare, an amazing parade of fascinating sights and sounds. Every soldier who has trod its length retains memories of one of the most colorful and interesting streets in the world.

from top

this is not a google earth photo! Aerial view of Calcutta downtown. In upeer left background is Hindusthan building, U.S. Army HQ. The oldest part of the city starts at the esplanade and extends upwards. The city was founded in the early 1700’s.

kalighat temple

A strong contrast to the splendor of the Jain temple is the Kalighat temple, built in the 1600’s, worship place of Hindus. It is famous for the practice of sacrificing goats, as many as 1500 having been slaughtered in one day. On the bank of a canal cut from the original Ganges bed, it is the temple of the Goddess kali.

the tram

Indians are the bravest commuters in the world. They hang from every handhold. The two shown here, however, are bent on clinching a seat before the car fills. Ancient double-decker buses sway and chug under the strain of double overloads and trams make packed neew York subways seem comofortable by comparison.

office para?

The noon snack is taken by many at a fruit vendor such as this one. Verboten to troops by Millitary order, sanitation isn’t even considered and peels litter the streets. Greatest menace of this dealer is the threat of Cholera, carried by flies from open garbage bins to sliced fruit.


Highlight of the out-of-bounds visit is of course, a look-in on the lassies. These dusky ladies of the night ask from Rs 100.00 to xx for the dubious pleasure they offer. The GI seems to find making choice hard.

howrah station

Indians seem to be great travelers. Wartime transportation priorities have forced many wary travelers to remain in stations waiting for long periods. Because of no other means, many must set up house- keeping during the long vigil, cooking their food on the spot and sleeping on the bare floor.

ganga river

the river ganjes – The Hooghly river is lined with bathing ghats likke the one shown here. The troop transports in the back- ground seem out of place in the old-world atmosphere created by the temple at left and the sampans at anchor.

howrah bridge

howrah bridge – Calcutta boasts the third largest cantielver bridge in the world. Its real importance, however, lies in the fact that it serves as Calcutta’s gateway to the wese, being the city’s only bridge spanning the Hooghly. Taking 7 years to build, it cost $10,000,000. It towers 310 feet as the city’s highes structure, is 2,150 feet long with a center span of 1,500 feet. It was completed in 1942, opened in February, 1943.

nimtola burning ghat

nimtolla burning ghat – where people burn the bodies of their dead and commit the remains to the Hooghly river. Several funeral pyres still burn while abandoned baby in foregroud awaits burning.


Chowringhee Square. The Mohammddan mosque, Juma Masjid, is shown at left. This is actually one of thequiet moments when GI trucks, taxis, bicycles and other modes of transport can move with comparative freedom.

howrah bridge

Howrah Bridge: View looking east across the Howrah Bridge towards Calcutta, from Howrah. The 1,530 foot bridge was built on floating pontoons (clearly seen here) in order to obviate possible silting which permanent piers might have caused. It was designed by Sir Bradford Leslie and erected in 1874. It was replaced by a cantilever bridge in 1943. The photograph is contained in: Massey, Montague (1918), Recollections of Calcutta for over half a century. Calcutta: Thacker, Spink and Company. The photograph was taken circa 1918. [source: here]

More photos | (at


Entry filed under: cities, india. Tags: , , .

Goodbye Steve – a final farewell Talking films: Renoir’s River and Malle’s Phantom India

45 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Hiren  |  September 21, 2006 at 9:21 pm

    I have been to calcutta only twice in my life. This seems to be a lot different. If only similar photos were available for all cities.

  • 2. surfryder  |  September 21, 2006 at 10:55 pm

    @ Hiren: yesss, it’s so different! sometimes, even hard to recognize some places. there are some old libraries that has gems like this. a hard digging may sometimes unearth treasure like this.

  • 3. Anant Pathak  |  December 3, 2006 at 12:36 pm

    Hi Pal, it was really a treat to see such well maintained snaps of the old capital city. still I crave to see some more rare photos which can be termed as the Oldest ever for a city like Calcutta. Keep it up.

  • 4. Hemant  |  March 19, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    Amazing photos, Its a real treat to see them

  • 5. ritankar sarkar  |  April 25, 2007 at 3:48 am

    this surely make me love my motherland more dearly.. i have been born and brought up in calcutta… came searching for a picture of howrah bridge… but surely got a better gift than just a photo of howrah bridge

  • 6. ari  |  April 30, 2007 at 12:53 pm

    Its so nice to see old pics, and that too of Calcutta, where we have lived all these years. Intensely feel like living those days, don’t we? Kaash!

  • 7. surfryder  |  April 30, 2007 at 6:49 pm

    yes, it feels so intense and lost everytime i see those pics.

  • 8. GYAN ROSHAN  |  July 10, 2007 at 3:33 am

    I hope those were the best days in kolkata.

  • 9. kangkana  |  October 16, 2007 at 4:18 pm


  • 10. anup  |  October 16, 2007 at 4:18 pm


  • 11. Shubhayu Dutta  |  October 22, 2007 at 9:26 pm

    the pics are great……….words fall short to praise it…..

  • 12. tiktiki  |  November 17, 2007 at 5:56 am

    thanks for these photos. just amazing!

  • 13. sukanya  |  December 4, 2007 at 6:52 pm

    hi. I wanted to know who holds the rights to these images – and where i could find the actual proveace and dates for them?

    would be grateful if you could help.


  • 14. surfryder  |  December 8, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    @ sukanya: i believe these photos are now out of copyright holding period. u can check out site, where it has some details about the photos. hope this helps. are you doing a research on this?

  • 15. shubh Mukherjee  |  February 27, 2008 at 12:54 am

    REally worth a watch…great to catch the vintage calcutta

  • 16. Sonali Sengupta  |  April 18, 2008 at 1:00 pm

    Thanks for sharing these nice images of my birth-place. Some old images of Kolkata can also be seen at

    • 17. C. N. Mullick  |  October 28, 2010 at 11:03 pm

      If you are present on social networking site Orkut, then you may join NOSTALGIA KOLKATA community to see a collection of over 550 chronologically arranged images of Old Calcutta for the period 1690 to 1947. The url for the community is –

  • 18. AMIT  |  June 30, 2008 at 4:44 am


  • 19. Owen Clement  |  July 13, 2008 at 8:24 am

    I am a 79 old retiree and have written my memoir. I would love to use a couple photo of Calcutta before the war as I remembere it in my memoir.

  • 20. debashish mukherjee  |  August 7, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    I just love old pictures of Kolkata, Takes you back to those days.
    Though I am bangali, I have never lived there, It is the place my father was born and passed away. I dont know some how or some where I might be searching for my father in these photographs.

    thanks to whoever has put these photos together


    • 21. junaid ahmad  |  October 18, 2009 at 6:29 pm

      Mr Debashish,
      Dont you remember any place in Calcutta your father used to talk? Tell me . I will find for you

  • 22. Piyal Kundu  |  December 13, 2008 at 12:59 am

    I have started a new blog about old indian photography. I am posting some old good images of Calcutta and other areas of India.

  • 23. saswati  |  October 15, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    Simply Amazing !! Nothing can be more appealing . Hats off !

  • 24. junaid ahmad  |  October 18, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    I am sixty and remember the clean,quite calm city of calcutta . Now seldom seen good people and good place to sooth your eyes.Eh

  • 25. Madhu Nair  |  November 1, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    Being a die hard Calcuttan, this set of photographs is an absolute delight.The pontoon bridge photo is a real masterpiece..can u ever imagine the hooghly without today’s howrah bridge??!!

  • 26. Palash  |  March 30, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    Can any one help me to find more about old Kolkata?

  • 27. RIANKA LENKA  |  August 16, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    where r the photos ?

  • 28. sumon hazra  |  September 13, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    this is very rare photo… me–9038779275

  • 29. samir kumar basu  |  September 30, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    interested in photography

  • 30. samir kumar basu  |  September 30, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    want to view photograph of old calcutta

  • 31. samir kumar basu  |  October 1, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    I love Photography

  • 32. samir kumar basu  |  October 1, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    Those photographs are valuable Please show me

    • 33. C. N. Mullick  |  November 2, 2010 at 6:59 pm

      If you are present on social networking site ORKUT, then you may join NOSTALGIA KOLKATA community to see the collection of over 550 rare images of Calcutta for the period 1690 to 1947 which are arranged chronologically. The url of the community is –

  • 34. Prasanta Banerjee  |  November 24, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    Sir— It is really beutiful. In my stock I have an old picture of “Duff Collage”, Calcutta. If you want I cant send you

  • 35. simson s tudu  |  January 4, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    i want to know more about old calcutta through old photoes!!!

  • 36. doriane abramo  |  February 13, 2011 at 3:13 am

    I’m french and calcutta fascinates me. i’ll go back there in few weeks, looking for old pictures, old postcards…any idea where to find some? thanks a lot.

    • 37. C. N. Mullick  |  February 18, 2011 at 11:43 am

      If you are present on social networking site ORKUT, then you may join NOSTALGIA KOLKATA community to see the collection of over 550 rare images of Calcutta for the period 1690 to 1947 which are arranged chronologically. The url of the community is –

  • 38. Piyal  |  February 22, 2011 at 1:54 am

    Hi, I have posted many vintage calcutta related photograph in my blog Old Indian Photos ( ). You can view near about 300 vintage rare photographs.

  • 39. parth das  |  March 6, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    i just love to watch these calcutta photographs

  • 40. DN  |  April 17, 2011 at 11:49 am

    Hi to everyone ! I am Calcutta born man, now living in Rajasthan. I am writing a book on CALCUTTA (CALCUTTA PAST AND KOLKATA PRESENT) and I am using my own collection of Calcutta’s old photographs (from 1860 onwards) prints from 1780 onwards and post cards from 1900 AD. I do not have anything on PARK STREET, AJC Bose Rd., This is an appeal to all if you have photographs (OLD only) prints or post cards, please forward me a copy or I am willing to buy also. Thanks a lot ! DN.

  • 41. C. N. Mullick  |  June 20, 2011 at 12:22 am

    To see a series of over 550 rare images of old Calcutta chronologically arranged for the period of 1690 to 1947 visit –

  • 42. Timothy ayoung  |  March 14, 2012 at 2:25 am

    I was born in Calcutta 1947, grew up and went to school in St Thomas’s boys school and St James’s saw Sister Teresa Dakota en going to School. So I decided to visit Calcutta this autumn. Can you believe thy made me get a visa. An old Bengali babu like me.

  • 43. Parvesh Sharma  |  May 24, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Kolkata is the best ever place where I wants to spend my whole life. I am not Bengali. But I loves bengali culture. I loves the rain of Kolkata / Howrah. Bad luck! My job is in Delhi. I LOVE KOLKATA.

  • 44.  |  June 27, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    im very pleased to see such pictures and comments, i love kolkata a lot but i request the government or who ever is responsible,please bring kolkata to what it was please prove that it was the capital of British India.I feel shame when i see Kolkata a city od dirts,bad roads,Unmaintained Buildings,Kolkata is again a dying city even the new town rajarhat which is called the singapore of India is Going to garbage with Illigal shops etc.

  • 45. Gaurav  |  May 16, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    Calcutta(kolkata) is the best city i have ever visited in India … Everything is just amazing Howrah bridge, Victoria , and it can not be described it is just amazing to be in kolkata – the city of joy ,,,, the feeling i get when i visit there is just awesome …..


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed



Recent Posts

Most Clicked Links...

  • None

Blog Stats

  • 156,567 hits


My Favs

My calendar

September 2006
« Aug   Oct »

Readers at the moment

website stats

%d bloggers like this: