Joydip Sur
2023-03-16 07:45:53

Time stops at Beadon Street

Time stops at Beadon Street

For more than a decade, I have traversed the length and breadth of Calcutta trying to unearth interesting facts about the streets that complete our cityscape. It is fascinating to discover how each and every road in the City of Joy is so varied in character, feature and mood. Each with a different tale to tell.

This month, my journey took me to Beadon Street in north Calcutta. The first sight of Beadon Street will give you a feel of any north Calcutta thoroughfare with shanties of kochuri shops and tea stalls on either sides and a load of auto-rickshaws plying with venom. But then you pause, take a deep breath and look up, above the mundane nitty-gritty of daily life.

Far from the madding crowd, Beadon Street is a charming little stretch of road where time stands still. Nestled between Rabindra Sarani in the West and Bidhan Sarani in the East, Beadon Street, is reminiscent of the bygone era.

Beadon Street was named after Sir Cecil Beadon. He was born on December 22, 1813. He was the youngest son of Richard Beadon. Sir Cecil Beadon arrived in India on December 31, 1836. He held various appointments in Calcutta from 1843 onwards. It was under his administration that the present Calcutta High Court was established by the amalgamation of the old Supreme Court as well as the Sudder Dewani and Nizamat Adalats. It was also under his supervision that the offices of the Commissioner of Police and Chairman of the Justices of Peace were united in 1863. Sir Cecil Beadon served as the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal from April 23, 1862 to 1867. He died on July 18, 1880.

In the early 1970s, the Corporation renamed a stretch of Beadon Street (from C. R. Avenue to Bidhan Sarani) as Dani Ghosh Sarani as mentioned in page 61 of the Calcutta Municipal Gazette dated April 24, 1971. The remaining stretch of Beadon Street (from Rabindra Sarani to C. R. Avenue) was renamed as Abhedananda Road.

Over a decade ago, Abhedananda Road was rechristened Utpal Dutta Sarani after the legendary Bengali actor, director and playwright. Utpal Dutta received National Film Award for Best Actor in 1970 and three Filmfare Best Comedian Awards. In 1990, he was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship for lifetime contribution to theatre. He staged many of his plays at the Minerva Theatre.

Beyond any doubt, the Minerva Theatre is the most prominent landmark on Beadon Street. Built in 1893, Minerva was erected at the site where the Great National Theatre stood before. Nagendra Bhusan Mukhopadhaya initially owned it, but in course of time, it witnessed several transfers of ownership. The maiden play held on this stage was 'Macbeth'. Sri Girish Chandra Ghosh is noted for having given the last spectacular performance of his life in this theatre. Minerva Theatre was burnt down in a fire in 1922. However, it was renovated and in 1925, it regained its old status and play-acting was resumed.

Several old houses from the days of the Raj fill the entire stretch of Beadon Street. The architectural beauty of these edifices is worth appreciating. The intricate designs engraved on iron adorn the exterior of many of these houses. Some of the details of these designs boast of Persian influences. The most stunning of all the residences on this thoroughfare is Dutta Villa on 76A, Beadon Street.

The Chitanya Library established in 1889, Anath Nath Deb Bazaar (Chhatu Babur Bazaar) established in 1881 and Ramdulal Nibas Thakurbati are popular landmarks on Beadon Street and certainly are worth stopping by.

Unaffected by the hustle and bustle, which normally grips Calcutta, Beadon Street, is a world of its own. Sit in one of the tea stalls by the road and listen to the locals discussing everything from politics to sports, enjoy a meal at the Punjab National Hindu Hotel or simply sip on a glass of cooler from Shiblok Sherbet.

Walking down Beadon Street on a sultry summer afternoon felt good. The people here are warm, the houses are architecturally beautiful and the stretch of road is filled with rich treasures and untold stories. I strongly urge you to stroll down is charming little street where time stands still.


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