Joydip Sur
2023-03-16 07:56:08

Asutosh Mukherjee Road A Road Of Colonial Memories

Asutosh Mukherjee Road A Road Of Colonial Memories

The rain God has finally smiled upon us. Calcutta witnessed a steady amount of rainfall spreading joy in the heart of the romantic. In one such monsoon afternoon, I set out like a mini Columbus to rediscover one of south Calcutta’s oldest thoroughfares and an important north-south traffic connector.

Asutosh Mukherjee Road stretches from Chowringhee Road and Elgin Road crossing in the north to Shymaprasad Mukherjee Road and Ramesh Mitter Road crossing in the south. 

The Corporation renamed Russa Road North, from Elgin Road to Ramesh Mitter Road on December 15, 1925, as Asutosh Mukherjee Road. The notification appeared in page 333 of the Calcutta Municipal Gazette on January 9, 1926. The Calcutta Improvement Trust (C.I.T.) undertook the task of widening and straightening of Russa Road North and South (now known as Asutosh Mukherjee Road and Shymaprasad Mukherjee Road) under its scheme IV and IV A. The total length of the road is 3,750 yards, with a width varying from 100 to 150 feet. The gross cost of the scheme was Rs 86,19,084 out of which an amount of Rs 7,64,391 was recovered by sale of surplus land, thus bringing down the net cost to Rs 9,75,167. 

The entire stretch of Asutosh Mukherjee Road is reminiscent of colonial memory. Most of the houses bear a strong trait of early 20th century colonial architecture. Many eminent men and women have lived in the vicinity of this century old thoroughfare. Asutosh Mookherjee after whom the road has been named used to live at 77, Russa Road North, (now 77, Asutosh Mukherjee Road). This grand old building painted in yellow with tall pillars was once home to the renowned Mookherjee family. Now it houses an institute of communication and management known as Asutosh Mukherjee Memorial Institute.

Asutosh Mookherjee was born in the Bowbazar area and showed an early aptitude for mathematics. In 1883 he stood first in the BA examination at Calcutta University and was awarded the Premchand-Roychand scholarship to complete a postgraduate degree in mathematics. Two years later he also acquired an MA in physics, making him the first student to be awarded a dual degree from Calcutta University. However, he turned down a job offer in the Department of Public Instruction in favour of completing his Bachelor of Law degree. Nevertheless, he continued to publish scholarly papers on issues in mathematics and physics and was elected to the Senate of Calcutta University in 1889. Mookerjee dabbled in politics while practicing law, but gave it up when he was appointed as a judge of the Bengal High Court in 1904. He approached different people to raise funds for the establishment of the Calcutta University College of Science, which became the foremost institute of scientific education and research in the country. In 1906, he was appointed Vice-Chancellor of Calcutta University.

So much for the Mookerjee whose name the road bears. But unlike the suave, erudite gentleman, the road is common, mass oriented and populous.

Jagu Bazaar on Asutosh Mukherjee Road is a popular junction on this thoroughfare. The place is always buzzing with trade from dawn to dusk. In fact, both the sidewalks along the entire stretch of Asutosh Mukherjee Road are dotted with numerous stores and roadside stalls selling everything from food, grocery, and clothing to electronics, car accessories and other knick-knacks.

One of the noticeable shops along the stretch of the road is the traditional Bengali confectioneries. Known to sell authentic Bengali sweet dishes, these shops still attract those with sweet teeth in hordes. 

A walk down Asutosh Mukherjee Road is sure to take you back to the times when Kolkata was Calcutta. The colonial houses, the narrow by lanes, the old shops exude an aura of the years by gone. Set out to rediscover this century old thoroughfare and you will find time turning back faster than you can imagine. 


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