Hidden Gems: On The Trail Of Nobel Laureates In Kolkata

The City of Joy is home to several Nobel Laureates, from writer, artist and poet Rabindranath Tagore to economist Abhijit Banerjee. Here's a list of places to visit in Kolkata to get a glimpse into their lives and works
A stunning view of the city at sunset
A stunning view of the city at sunsetmitra kountik/Shutterstock

Kolkata, the City of Joy has always been a cultural hub and a bibliophile's haven, with independent and specialty bookstorestraces of Soviet Russia, heritage trams, and vintage charm that is reflected in the quaint old houses which have stood the test of time. It is also home to several Nobel Laureates from writer-artist-poet Rabindranath Tagore to economist Abhijit Banerjee. Here is a list of places to visit in Kolkata in the footsteps of the Nobel Laureates, from the house where Rabindranath Tagore was born to the room where Ronald Ross worked on a cure for malaria, the club frequented by CV Raman and more.

Ronald Ross

The memorial to Sir Ronald Ross at SSKM
The memorial to Sir Ronald Ross at SSKMPinakpani/WikiCommmons

Amitav Ghosh's Calcutta Chromosome is a book that talks about the connection between Sir Ronald Ross and Kolkata. Sir Ross was a Nobel Prize-winning scientist who made a groundbreaking discovery in malaria research in 1898. He confirmed how the parasite spreads at the Presidency General Hospital (now the SSKM Hospital) in Kolkata. In 1902, he became the first Nobel Laureate from Kolkata, the United Kingdom, and the first person born outside Europe, for his work with malaria. His research paved the way for the development of methods to combat the disease. A monument was erected at the SSKM hospital to honor his achievement, which was unveiled by Ross himself in 1927. Inside the hospital is a small room from where he worked, with photos and some memorablia.

Address: S S K, M Hospital, Acharya Jagdish Chandra Bose Rd, Bhowanipore, Kolkata, West Bengal 700020

Rabindranath Tagore

The Jorasanko Thakurbari is a historic mansion located in North Kolkata, which served as the ancestral home of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. The mansion, also known as Thakur Bari, was also the residence of Gaganendranath and Abanindranath Tagore, the founders of the Bengal School of Art. Today, the mansion has been converted into a museum that showcases objects used by the Tagore family members and their works.

Jorasanko Thakurbari is home to a museum of Tagore's works
Jorasanko Thakurbari is home to a museum of Tagore's worksArnav Pratap Singh/Shutterstock

It was here that Rabindranath Tagore spent a considerable portion of his life penning many of his famous literary works, poems, songs and plays. The Rabindra Bharati Museum was established in 1961 and contains a collection of works including books, journals, paintings, photographs, and sculptures. The government of West Bengal acquired several original paintings by Tagore, and notebooks, which are on display here.

Address: Ganesh Talkies, 267, Rabindra Sarani, Singhi Bagan, Jorasanko, Kolkata, West Bengal - 700007. Timings: 10:30am-5pm. Mondays closed.

Mother Teresa

If you want to learn more about Mother Teresa's life, you can visit the Mother House. This used to be her home, where she lived and worked from 1953 until she passed away in 1997. The Mother House is now the headquarters of the International Religious Congregation of the Missionaries of Charity, and it has been home to the Missionaries of Charity Sisters since February 1953.

Mother Teresa's room at Missionaries of Charity
Mother Teresa's room at Missionaries of CharityDoctors photography/Shutterstock

Right next to Mother Teresa's tomb is a small museum that opened in 2005. It provides a glimpse into her life and work through various exhibits, including some of her personal belongings, handwritten letters, photos, books, awards, postal stamps, coins, and paintings that are called "Visions of Love".

You can also visit the room where Mother Teresa worked, rested, and which contains her desk, a table with two benches, a wooden cabinet, and the original pictures on the wall. These pictures are now encased for preservation purposes.

Timings: 8.30 am to 12 noon; 3 pm to 6 pm (closed on Thursdays). Entry is free.

Address: 54A, Acharya Jagdish Chandra Bose Rd, Taltala, Kolkata, West Bengal 700016

Amartya Sen

Coffee and adda still prevails at The  Indian Coffee House in Kolkata
Coffee and adda still prevails at The Indian Coffee House in Kolkatabalajisrinivasan/Shutterstock

The Indian Coffee House in College Street, Kolkata, has been a local legend for a long time, predating the arrival of hipster cafes. It is located near Presidency College and is a popular hangout spot for both young people and professors, who can often be seen relaxing over cups of coffee. In the past, this place was frequented by Bengal's intellectuals, freedom fighters, writers, and artists, including Rabindranath Tagore, Subhas Chandra Bose, and Satyajit Ray. Even today, you might spot Amartya Sen enjoying the atmosphere and coffee. If you visit, be sure to try the famous mutton kabiraji cutlet or a chicken sandwich.

Address: 15, Bankim Chatterjee St, College Square West, College Street, Kolkata, West Bengal 700073

CV Raman

Many people are not aware that the Nobel Laureate, CV Raman, discovered the Nobel-winning Raman Effect at a laboratory in this city. If you're interested, you can visit the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS), which was the first research institute founded in India in 1876. Professor C V Raman worked at IACS from 1907 to 1933, and it was here that he discovered the famous Effect that bears his name, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930.

Address: 2A & B Raja S C Mullick Road, Kolkata 700032

The Roastery Cafe sits in the ground floor of the club
The Roastery Cafe sits in the ground floor of the club@roasterycoffeehouseindia/Instagram

Or head to The Calcutta South India Club which was established by two Bharat Ratnas, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and CV Raman, for people who migrated to Kolkata from south India. The club was initially located in Bowbazar during Raman's time, but it was relocated to its current address around 40 years ago. As you enter the club, you will be greeted by a giant mango tree. The ground floor, which previously housed a canteen serving South Indian cuisine, has now been replaced by the trendy Roastery Cafe. The club features a library that includes a National Geographic collection dating back to 1945 and running through 2005. In addition, they have a reading room, a card room with a card table for playing bridge and rummy, and a table tennis room. The club's primary objective was to organise cultural programmes and run a free medical center. Finally, a hall on the top floor is rented out for weddings and other events.

Address: 70 B, Hindustan Park Rd, Gariahat, Kolkata, West Bengal 700019

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