Sampurna Majumder takes us through India’s only existing Chinatown!
Though Capitalism continues to dominate the Indian economy, the country has had its tryst with Socialism in the past and continues to experience the same in certain pockets despite a thinning percentage.
My motive behind penning the above paragraph is to focus on the fragment of Chinese Culture that is still trying to preserve its identity in a country.
India shares an elongated history with her neighbour China. Both the countries have close cultural and historical contact since the 1st Century AD, since Buddhism forayed into China. Simultaneously, trade relation via the Silk Road was responsible for maintaining economic relations. Later Chinese scholars, like Hiuen Tsang and Fa Hien not only explored the country, but also spent some time studying Sanskrit at Nalanda University.
During the late eighteenth century, a Chinese buisnessman named Tong Achi arrived in Kolkata (then Calcutta) to start a sugar mill. Gradually, their number began to increase with a huge influx during the First World War.
As their population began to increase, it witnessed the establishment of Chinese ghettos in Kolkata as well as Mumbai. With the passage of time, these ghettos came to be known as Chinatown.
Mumbai’s Chinatown has long been lost and today, Kolkata is the only Indian city to have a Chinatown. The locality is tucked away in the eastern fringes of the city and is also known as Tangra. As you enter the neighbourhood, a distinct culture awaits to welcome.
All east Asian faces and some of them conversing in the local language! (Bengali). Apart from serving a prominent locality for the Chinese immigrants, Tangra happens to be the cultural hub for the community. One can spot Buddhist monasteries and temples and age-old Chinese pastry shops.
Scrupulously preserved by Chinese families for generations together, the authentic Chinese food available in the area will never fail you. You can savour the best Chinese cuisine in the town without burning a hole in your pocket.
You can also have a multicultural experience if you plan a visit during the month of February when the Chinese New Year is celebrated. The community has also been loyal to their adopted deity, the Goddess Kali. Do not forget to pay visit to the temple of Chinese Goddess Kali and seek her blessings.
For the rest, the sumptuous Chinese platters are there that leave you wanting for more. So next time you are visiting the City of Joy, do not forget to experience ‘ChinaTown’.
- The Tea-house project: Kolkata’s Chinatown set for revival (Feature) (vancouverdesi.com)
- Chinese Pastries! (peninsulabakery.wordpress.com)