Map of joy

Nidhi Dugar Kundalia unfolds Kolkata’s first tourist map, which reveals the old city like never before.

“How do I get people to fold this map properly?  Look, the Howrah Bridge is a mess. And there’s a big crease right through Dakhineshwar,” chides Iftekhar Ahsan, city walks operator, as I look down sheepishly at my wrinkled copy of The Calcutta Walks Tourist Map. This man has every right to get protective. After all, this one of a kind map he charted himself.

The last known map of Calcutta and its environs was from the 1790s by A. Upjohn, with its ‘pucca’ road, ‘cutcha’ road references. Centuries later, Iftekhar collaborated with railways junkie and cartographer Samit Roychoudhuri on a project none had taken up in the last two centuries: a Calcutta Tourist Map. “Calcutta is a storytelling place,” Iftekhar tells me, between sips of chai from his clay kullar , stressing the City of Joy’s old name. “It tells stories; great stories. And stories become more powerful with facts. Can you believe that there isn’t a halfway decent map of the city? I had no expectations from the government but even private players hadn’t done anything. Something basic would do. At least show the attractions and create some idea of the distances.”

Full report here Hindu


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