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Calcutta Walks – A J C Bose Road

Calcutta Walks – A J C Bose Road

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Join us on a journey through the vibrant and culturally diverse city of Calcutta, as we start our new series of “Calcutta Walks.” Today, we’ll explore the history of A.J.C Bose Road, which was once a canal dug to protect the city from notorious robbers.

The city of Calcutta amazes me with each passing moment. As someone who has been living here since 1995, I have grown a strong attachment to this vibrant and culturally diverse city. Its rich history, intellectual community, and captivating culture have all contributed to my affection for this place. So as a tribute I start this new series of “Calcutta Walks,” I will be taking you on a journey through various parts of the city and the history behind it. Today, we will explore the mighty A.J.C Bose Road.

Lower Circular Road now known as A.J.C Bose Road, is a major thoroughfare in Calcutta that connects to Upper Circular Road (APC Road) at the intersection of Ramananda Chatterjee Street. It runs all the way to the Shyambazar 5-point crossing and is one of the busiest roads in the city. However, did you know that back in the 18th century, boats used to sail on this road? Yes, you heard it right. Let’s delve deeper into the fascinating history of A.J.C Bose Road.

Many of you may be familiar with the lullaby Khoka Ghumalo Para Juralo, Borgi Alo Deshe, Bulbulitey Dhan Khayache Kajna Debo Kishe?” which dates back to the 18th century. This lullaby provides us with a glimpse into the political and economic conditions prevalent in Bengal in 1741. During this time, notorious robbers called Borgis from Maharashtra would raid and loot the common villagers of Bengal.

The reason I bring up the topic of Borgis is the fact that the A.J.C Bose Road that we know today was originally a canal that was dug to protect the city from these Maratha Borgis. At that time, Bengal was under the rule of the Nawabs. The Borgis would launch surprise attacks and retreat into the forests and swamps, making it difficult for the authorities to catch them. As the Nawabs lost their grip on Bengal in the 18th century, the Borgis became more audacious, and their raids became more frequent and violent.

The East India Company, which had established its base in Calcutta, was also vulnerable to Borgi attacks. The Company had a large warehouse in the city where it stored valuable goods such as textiles, spices, and opium. The Borgis knew this and saw the warehouse as a lucrative target. In 1756, they attacked Calcutta and captured the warehouse.

The Nawab of Bengal, Siraj-Ud-Daula, recaptured Calcutta from the British, taking advantage of their loss from the Borgi raid. Later, a full-scale war was fought between the British and the Nawab, which the British ultimately won due to the treachery of some individuals. This marked the beginning of British colonial rule in India.

Realizing the need to protect the city from further Borgi attacks, the British authorities came up with the idea of digging a canal around the city, which would act as a moat and prevent the Borgis from entering the city. The canal was dug in the late 18th century and eventually became what we know today as AJC Bose Road. The canal not only served as a defensive structure but also provided water for irrigation and transportation, becoming a hub of economic activity.

As time passed, the canal was gradually filled in, and its banks were paved, creating the road we know today as A.J.C Bose Road. It’s now a bustling commercial center, lined with shops, restaurants, and offices, and is one of the most important roads in Kolkata, connecting the city’s north and south.

So next time you find yourself on A.J.C Bose Road, take a moment to imagine the boats that once plied its waters, providing a vital lifeline to the city and supporting its growth and development.

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