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Kolkata Soundscapes
 

Audios

Here are audio recordings of different places of Kolkata at different times. A short note is added with audio clip(s) wherever necessary.

 

Bidhannagar Road Station

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Bidhannagar Road station is located at the north fringe of Kolkata, an important entry point to Salt Lake, Kolkata’s one of the posh areas and a hub of Eastern India’s cyber businesses. This station, located on the Sealdah subarban line is nondescript with narrow platforms occupied by vendors and make shift stalls selling quick food and other cheap stuffs.

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The platforms overflows with passengers particularly during office hours. For being closest to the terminal station Sealdah, many trains simply whistle past this station alarming the crowded platforms to clear off from their vicinity. The entire area is a buzz with hawkers’calls, whistles of passing trains, and shouts of auto rickshaw drivers.

Ultadanga Fish Market 

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Fondness for fish is a well-known cultural identity of the Bengalis. Almost every locality of Kolkata has its fish market. Ultadanga fish market is located at the north Kolkata which opens at very early hours of the day, a time which is reserved for wholesale buying in auction system. After that retail selling of fish starts and common people come to buy their everyday fish.

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In working days of the week, the buyers are usually in hurry as most of them would have to attend offices. The market place is very wet and alive with fish smells. The price is never fixed and any buy is open for bargain. The sellers, on the other hand shout the ‘attractive’ prices for their stuffs.

Rush Hour at Dalhousie (“Office Time”)

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“Office time” in Kolkata means 8:30 to 11 a.m. when office-goers flock on the streets, bus stops and stations to catch some public transport. It is the time for jostling to get a foothold in buses, trains and trams.

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This is also the time when vehicles impatiently honk, the bus conductors and auto rickshaw drivers shout the names of the places they would ply. Kolkata becomes noisiest in its “office time”. 

Hawking in Central Kolkata

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Hawking in Kolkata is probably an easy option for a huge section of unemployed people hailing from Kolkata, different places of West Bengal, and even from other states to participate in urban economy.

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Hawkers existed even in the early years of Calcutta when hawkers sold their wares door to door with high-pitched calls in some typical melody. Such descriptions are abundant in contemporary literatures (see Jorasankor Dhare). That tradition is still continuing albeit in different forms. For more, see Hawker’s Call.

North Calcutta (Hand-Drawn Rickshaws)

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Man-drawn rickshaws popularly known as ‘tana-rickshaw’ or pulled rickshaws are generally used to travel short distances preferably through jammed narrow lanes and by-lanes. During rainy seasons when most streets in Kolkata are waterlogged, the demand for tana rickshaw soars.

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They are also used to carry goods. In congested lanes the rickshaw puller makes jingling sounds with a bunch of bells he carries for making ways to take his rickshaw through. When even such sound fails he yells.

Sealdah – Band Party

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Band Parties or wedding bands are commonly seen in the city during the festive or wedding seasons. Several of these bands have a larger colonial history in that they trace their origins to early British military bands in the region. The party usually consists of around five to ten members, but on occasion, may exceed twenty.

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The Mehboob Band for instance, has one of the largest contingents, and can be seen leading the march through lanes and by-lanes of the city during wedding ceremonies. Using Pipes, Drums, other wind and string instruments at times, these bands have come to define one of the unique characteristics of social occasions in Calcutta.    

Rabindra Sarani

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Rabindra Sarani was traditionally the longest connecting link between North and Central Calcutta. Pilgrims in the nineteenth century used to travel by this route to areas north of the colonial administrative centre near Maidan. The area, properly known as Chitpur was renamed after its most famous resident, Rabindranath Tagore.

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It became a centre for bazaars and dharamshalas for pilgrims and housed several shops dealing with local crafts. Today, it houses larger markets involving clothing, marble and craft shops and eateries.

Jadavpur Bazaar

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 A southern locality in the city, Jadavpur houses several bazaars such as the Jadavpur Market and Pal Bazaar, both within five minutes of each other. The market area is usually referred to as the ‘8B’ area, after the 8B bus-stand located opposite Jadavpur University in Raja S.C. Mullick Road.

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The Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science and KPC Medical Hospital are located close by. The area is host to suburban populations and reflects unique sound profiles. The early evening following the closure of university for the day leads to a high pitched bustle of traffic and market vendors. 

Garia Bazaar

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 Garia is a neighbourhood in south Kolkata. It includes the localities of Kanungo Park, Srirampur, New Garia,Chak Garia, Garia Park, Baghajatin, Baishnabghata-PatuliTechno CityPanchpotaModel Town, Ganguly Bagan, Tentulberia, East Tentulberia, Ramgarh, Briji, Kamalgazi, Mahamayatala, Boral, Sreenagar, Nayabad, Panchasayar, Balia and certain parts of New Ajaynagar.

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It is bounded by Jadavpur to the north, Bansdroni/Tollygunge to the north-west, Santoshpur to the north-east,Narendrapur/Sonarpur to the south and Mukundapur to the east. The southern part of the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass runs through the heart of the region. It is also represented by an important, ever-busy, and ever-crowded traffic junction from where a variety of public transports ply in different directions, making it a principal spot of south Kolkata. The Garia Bazaar (market) is located near Garia Station.

New Empire Cinema Hall

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 New Empire Cinema is a single screen cinema hall located in Humayun Place in New Market, (opposite Shreeram Arcade), Kolkata,West Bengal, India. 

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This theatre is next to Lighthouse Cinema. The area in which it is located, houses one of the oldest markets in the city, New Market. The area overflows during afternoons and evenings with roadside vendors and shopkeepers.  

Tram Ride from Dharmatala (Lenin Sarani) to Sealdah

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 The tram system in Kolkata is run by the Calcutta Tramways Company (CTC). It is currently the only operating tram network in India, and the oldest operating electric tram in Asia, running since 1902. The CTC owns 257 trams, of which 125 trams are running on the streets of Kolkata on a daily basis.

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The cars are single-deck articulated cars and can carry 200 passengers (60 seated). The early horse-drawn cars were imported from England, as were the steel tram cars manufactured before 1952. Until then, most Kolkata tram cars were bought from the English Electric Company and Dick, Kerr & Co. After 1952, the cars were built in India.

Acropolis Mall

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 New corporate addresses are cropping up everyday against the Kolkata skyline. Malls like South City, Forum and Quest dominate the consumer market. Acropolis Mall is a new five floor shopping address located in the eastern part of the city opposite Ruby Hospital. It boasts of a cinema, retail stores and fine dining resaurants in a newly developing area.

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Residential complexes are also surrounding the mall, as citizens find it easier to organise daily requirements when they are connected to a single destination for everyday needs. 

Gariahat Crossing

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 Gariahat falls under the Ballygunge area and is a retail market for saris (not only from typical Bengal but from all across India), electronics, and good restaurants. It is the hub and shopping capital of South Kolkata. The Gariahat Crossing is one of the main roads of South Kolkata that starts from Ballygunge Phari-Hazra Road crossing and from there travels southward towards the Gariahat market. The Ballygunge AC market and the Dakshinapan shopping center are two of the main attractions on Gariahat Road.

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A newly built mall named Mukti World, came up near Ballygunge Phari, joining the bandwagon of malls in Kolkata. Many handicraft and textiles emporium of the government can also be seen here. A huge number of jewellery shops are also located in the area. Gariahat is also famous for its fish market. It connects to / intersects some of the most important roads of the city namely Ballygunge Circular RoadGurusaday Dutta RoadHazra RoadRashbehari AvenueSouthern Avenue and Prince Anwar Shah Road. Smaller roads like Garcha Road, Dover Lane, Hindustan Road, Ekdalia Road, South End Park, etc. all originate from Gariahat Road.

Park Street (Evening)

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 Park Street (officially Mother Teresa Sarani and earlier Burial Ground Road), is a famous thoroughfare in the city of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), India. The street runs through what was a deer park of Sir Elijah Impey, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in Calcutta from 1773 to 1789, hence the earlier name. Its current official name was given by Kolkata Municipal Corporation in honour of Mother Teresa. In the 1970s and 1980s much of Kolkata’s night life took place at Park Street.

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Many noted musicians had played at popular night spots such as Trinca’s, Blue Fox, Mocambo and Moulin Rouge. Even before that, in the 1940s, 50s and 60s Kolkata’s prolific night life was centred on Park Street. The Park Hotel chain started with the opening of its first hotel, the 150 room, The Park on the fashionable Park Street on November 1, 1967. Park Street remains Kolkata’s foremost dining district, with many restaurants and pubs. It is often known as “Food Street” and “The Street that Never Sleeps”.

Bagha Jatin and Sulekha

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 The Bagha Jatin area is named after Jatindranath Mukherjee, a revolutionary Bengali philosopher who was active during British Rule. It is located in the southern part of the city and is surrounded by Ballygunge and Jadavpur in the north, Hiland Park in the east, Garia in the south and Kalabagan in the west.

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The locality is referred to as the middle-class and currently growing very well-off, upper-middle-class people’s locality in South Kolkata. Though it is surrounded by its rich and famous areas, over the it still remains primarily a nice upper-middle-class neighborhood. Apart from its critical location in south Calcutta, it is also a place inhabited by prominent people with strong social and cultural background. The two most important landmarks that signify this locality are the Baghajatin railway station, its bus terminal and the E.M. Bypass which are the lifeline of this locality and its USP. 

Chandni Chowk

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The Chandni Chowk area in North Kolkata houses one of the most famous electronic items market in the city. The Chandni Chowk metro station provides wider connectivity with the rest of the city.

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E-Mall, an electronics only mall has become a favourite destination for younger members of the population. The area also includes the Chandni Market, famous eateries like Sabirs and Zaika, and roadside electronic item shops. Near the Chandni Chowk area are located office buildings and the Statesman House, and CESC building in Victoria House. 

Chitpur

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 Chitpur has existed for at least 400 years. It received its name from the goddess Chiteswari, who had a splendid temple here erected byGobindram Mitter, where human sacrifices used to be offered. The lofty dome of the temple, which was known as Nabarutna or the shrine of nine jewels, fell during the earthquake of 1737, and it is now in ruins.

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According to another source, the area was earlier named Chitrapur. It is referred to in Bipradas Pipilai‘s poem Manasamangal in 1495, but it could be a later interpolation. According to it, Chitpur was home to Chakrapani, Commander-in-Chief of the Nawab of Bengal‘s army, and had a flourishing colony of artists. It refers to one Gobinda Ghosh as founder of the Chiteswari temple in 1610. The most notorious bandit of the region was Chitey Dakat, who offered human sacrifices at the temple. The area could also have acquired its name from him. A part of Lower Chitpur Road rivalled the Chandni Chowk of Delhi before construction of Nakhoda Mosque in 1926. The last vestiges of Nawabi style were found along Chitpur Road. It was on this road that Raja Rammohun Roy built his Brahmo Sabha, which later became Adi Brahmo Samaj. The road was renamed Rabindra Sarani, after its most famous resident, Rabindranath Tagore. It is Kolkata’s museum with communities and social groups from various parts of country and beyond finding a place in nooks along the road. Jorasanko Thakur Bari, the home of the Tagore family now houses Rabindra Bharati University. Chitpur is home to Kolkata railway station, the fourth and latest railway passenger terminal for the city. The first two stations, Howrah and Sealdah, were built more than a century ago and now both of them have reached the saturation point in capacity. The third one, Shalimar, which is under jurisdiction of South Eastern Railway, is located in Howrah district, far from the city centre. The new terminal has been named “Kolkata”. The decision to build a passenger terminal at Chitpur came after a lot of deliberations. Chitpur was finally approved by the Railway Ministry in 2003-04. Certain inherent advantages helped in the selection of this place. Other than being located in the heart of Kolkata, Chitpur has already functioned as an important rail yard for around a century.

Subway (Metro) Stations

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 The Kolkata Metro is a rapid transit system serving the city of Kolkata and the districts of South 24 Parganas and North 24 Parganas in the Indian state of West Bengal.

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The network currently consists of one operational line of 27.22 km from Noapara to Kavi Subhash with five other lines in various phases of construction.

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The Kolkata Metro was the first Metro Railway in India, opening for commercial services from 1984. This fact is proudly taken and the Kolkata Metro is called India’s First, Kolkata’s Pride. On 29 December 2010, Metro Railway, Kolkata became the 17th zone of the Indian Railways, operated by the Ministry of Railways. There are 300 metro services daily carrying over 650,000 passengers making it the second busiest metro system in India.

Puja Bells

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 The city is replete with sounds of various types of bells being sounded during pujas or aratis. This is a common occurrence in both Bengali and Marwari households among other communities.

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Each type of bell has a specific connection to a ritual, prayer or ceremony. Usually made of brass, these bells are played along with chants, and during aratis, are played together in order to create an an atmosphere of peace. Most of the bells have a resonating high-pitched tune. During bigger festivals like the Durga Puja, they are accompanied by the low pitched drums or dhaak in private residences. 

Marble Palace

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 Marble Palace is a palatial nineteenth-century mansion in North Kolkata. It is located at 46, Muktaram Babu Street, Kolkata 700007. It is one of the best-preserved and most elegant houses of nineteenth-century Calcutta. The mansion is famous for its marble walls and floors, from which its name derives. 

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The house is basically Neoclassical in style, while the plan with its open courtyards is largely traditional Bengali. Adjacent to the courtyard, there is a thakur-dalan, or place of worship for members of the family. The three-storey building has tall fluted Corinthian pillars and ornamented verandas with fretwork and sloping roofs, built in the style of a Chinese pavilion.The premises also include a garden with lawns, a rock garden, a lake and a small zoo.

Rabindra Sarobar to Jadavpur University (Auto Ride)

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 The auto-rickshaw is a motorised development of the hand pulled rickshaw and is now commonplace in several Indian cities. It serves as a communication lifeline for those who wish to travel faster than traditional buses or taxis for short distances. It has a unique place in the daily travelling routine of ordinary citizens.  

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