KOLKATA

Business Traveller (India) - - HOSPITALITY -

ere is a dis­tinct clam­our to Kolkata. Trams still run in some ar­eas of the city and are some­thing of an at­trac­tion to vis­i­tors. Where the roads seem to al­most al­ways be crowded, the foot­paths are no less con­gested. e lo­cal di­alect loudly fol­lows you around, as is un­com­mon in most In­dian me­trop­o­lises where cul­tural di­ver­sity is more ap­par­ent. Most tourists don’t mind the sound be­cause for many, Ben­gali sounds sweet to the ears with its rounded syl­la­bles. Its peo­ple pride them­selves on be­ing the in­tel­lec­tual pop­u­la­tion of In­dia, adept in lit­er­a­ture, poetry and the arts. Food is o en pre­pared in mus­tard oil, and the se­lec­tion of sweets is seem­ingly end­less.

At Novo­tel Kolkata Ho­tel & Res­i­dences, lo­cal avours are in­tro­duced to guests right from ar­rival. One is wel­comed with a vir­gin mo­jito pre­pared with Gond­ho­raj Lebu that is lemon typ­i­cal to West Ben­gal. In the room, Ben­gali sweets such as nolen gurer, shon­desh, kachch golla and kheer kodom wel­come guests. At the break­fast, lunch and din­ner bu ets there are typ­i­cal Ben­gali del­i­ca­cies such as fried bread and pota­toes, va­ri­eties of lo­cal sh in mus­tard and other prepa­ra­tions, and types of dal, to list a few.

Kolkata, the erst­while cap­i­tal of Bri­tish In­dia is also known for its colo­nial ar­chi­tec­ture. ese stand in clear con­trast to the mod­ern struc­tures next to them. For ex­am­ple, in Cen­tral Kolkata new com­mer­cial build­ings sur­round the Vic­to­rian-style High Court, Gen­eral Post O ce and the Writer’s Build­ing.

is is also the ad­dress of the her­itage prop­erty — e LaLiT Great Eastern Kolkata — a prom­i­nent part of Kolkata’s story. In 1840, an English baker opened it as Wil­son’s Ho­tel, named a er him­self, un­til 1865 when it came to be known as the Great Eastern Ho­tel. e lux­ury ho­tel, the rst in Asia was the trendi­est place to be seen at. It was the favourite of the likes of Ma­hatma Gandhi, ueen El­iz­a­beth II, Rud­yard Ki­pling and Mark Twain. In 2005, e LaLiT Suri Hospi­tal­ity Group bought it from the West Ben­gal gov­ern­ment and closed it for a seven-year long ren­o­va­tion.

To­day, this lux­u­ri­ous prop­erty in West Ben­gal’s cap­i­tal is a show­case of three styles — Vic­to­rian, Ed­war­dian and

con­tem­po­rary, re ected in Her­itage Block 1, Her­itage Block 2 and the New Block re­spec­tively. e rst block is still un­der restora­tion. It has the old favourite haunt — Maxim’s bar and restau­rant — that will re­open shortly, hope­fully emu­lat­ing a sim­i­lar charm. e Bak­ery in Block 2 is a restora­tion of its ear­lier form. ough its oven isn’t func­tional any­more, it re­mains the fo­cal point of the restau­rant. e dough-knead­ing con­tain­ers are planters, an­cient bread cans are ta­ble dec­o­ra­tions and one of the orig­i­nal walls re­mains as a trib­ute to the orig­i­nal bak­ery. e New Block has the lobby with the cen­tury-old pi­ano re­stored to its for­mer glory. A stroll through the prop­erty is an in­ter­est­ing rec­ol­lec­tion of how the celebri­ties of Kolkata used to en­joy their time here.

The LaLiT Great Eastern Kolkata ho­tel is a prom­i­nent part of Kolkata's his­tory

CLOCK­WISE FROM LEFT: The lobby of The LaLiT Great Eastern Kolkata; Vidyasagar Setu; and Kolkata is known for sweet treats like Shon­desh and Ras­gulla

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