The Great Houses of Calcutta: Their Antecedents, Precedents, Splendour and Portents
Number Of Pages: 326
Publisher: Niyogi Books
Author: Joanne Taylor & Jon Lang
Details: The Great Houses standing in North Kolkata today and described in this book were built by the cream of the indigenous elite during the city’s colonial era. Some exceptions apart, these mansions are now largely forlorn reminders of the ways of life, aspirations and aesthetic values of the wealthy Indian landowners, bankers and traders who flourished during the heyday of the city’s colonial era of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The houses are an important part of the urban and architectural history of Kolkata and are past representatives of the ongoing debate over what it means to be modern while representing a living culture in built form.
Taking off from Joanne Taylor’s widely acclaimed award-winning book The Forgotten Palaces of Calcutta and drawing from her thesis The Great Houses of Kolkata, 1750-2006, this book is a more comprehensive endeavour bringing in Joanne Taylor’s first-hand experiences and research in Kolkata and Jon Lang’s knowledge of the broader context of architectural history and the attempts to display contemporary design attitudes in built form, not only in today’s changing world but also during India’s colonial and post-colonial eras. With the help of meticulously researched and informative text and fascinating photographs, the book showcases the ‘Great Houses’ both during the city’s golden era when Kolkata was described as ‘The City of Palaces’ and the present. It raises current issues in architecture, not just in India but around the world.
The book is a fresh view of India’s first capital and a fascinating insight into the lives of Kolkata’s great families, the bhadralok, during the British Raj. It is an essential work for architects, students of architecture and readers who are interested in British and Indian history.