A bold initiative in reviving a crumbling old north Kolkata house into a heritage lodging may help save many more

Kolkata, a city in which century-old aristocratic mansions, grand colonial structures are being torn down to make way for modern high-rises buildings – a bold initiative by a few friends has helped revive a crumbling old north Kolkata house into a heritage lodging, The Calcutta Bungalow in Shyambazar.

A few years back, there was a plan to raze down a townhouse built in the 1920s by the Mazumders, when members of ‘Calcutta Walks’ stepped in. They bought the house and converted in into city’s first heritage bed and breakfast lodging.

Iftekhar Ahsan, his friends Christopher Chen and Ranvir Shah bought the house and revived the 93-year-old building into a gorgeous house mostly adhering to its original structure. “The people living there did not have the means to love and care for the building. We used our imagination on how it should’ve been in its heydays. There were very few new design elements added, it’s mostly enhanced from what was already there,” said Iftekhar Ahsan.

How it changed


Calcutta Walks didn’t want to make it pompous. The focus was to exhibit the different neighbourhoods of the city along with the elegance of north Kolkatan households.

An architect was engaged for the restoration, expert mistiris from Murshidabad district were brought in to work on ‘chun-surki’ (lime plaster and broken down bricks) in the house.


Earlier, the house had 13 bedrooms. After renovation, there are six huge bedrooms with attached toilets. An old Ambassador was also restored.

The Renovated Ambassador


The Calcutta Bungalow was opened earlier this month. “I used to be upset how the lovely buildings of Kolkata kept vanishing as we led people through our walking tours. One building was here today and gone tomorrow. Someone had to make a start. It is to save the city’s old buildings and not just in the posh areas, but in the back alleys and the bylanes to show that restoration and modern living can go hand in hand,” Ahsan said.

He adds that there’s a lot of excitement around The Calcutta Bungalow. “Calcutta is hungry for such adaptive reuse. And I think this is going to spur many more such attempts.”


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