How 2 Kolkata Residents Saved A 20th Century Building From Being Torn Down

The heritage properties face a constant onslaught as they are often de-listed and then pulled down

North Kolkata’s narrow lanes, bustling localities and decrepit buildings significantly contribute to the city’s old-world charm. These buildings, however, face a constant onslaught, as heritage properties are often de-listed and replaced with skyscrapers.

Childhood friends Iftekhar Ahsan and Chris Chen could no longer take the unbridled development that was slowly overshadowing the character of Kolkata. They bought a 1920s townhouse in North Kolkata and converted it into the city’s first heritage bed and breakfast, ‘The Calcutta Bungalow’.

“So, we found a really nice property with a strong foundation that we would not need to modify too much. We never wanted it to be very pompous or fancy. We wanted it to have the humility of the space that is exhibited by most upper-middle-class households in this part of the city. We also wanted to retain all of that and wanted people to come on board and help us realise that vision,” says Iftekhar Ahsan, owner of ‘The Calcutta Bungalow’.

The facility has garnered interest from locals and tourists in equal measure. Ahsan says, “While everything is new for a tourist, a local would appreciate the value of the restoration. We have found that quite a few locals approach us for bookings because they usually want to relive the bygone era that is kept alive through buildings such as this one.”

The heritage bed and breakfast also offers a restored ambassador car that intrepid visitors can make use of. The facility has been thrown open to visitors on May 6.