“What’s in a name?” – questioned Shakespeare. But when talking about Kolkata’s myriad lanes and bylanes, the history of our city lies embedded within the names of its streets and squares. They reveal our leader’s preferences, both cultural and ideological. Not very long ago many of our streets have been renamed and this gave us the perfect opportunity to look back and think why exactly do some of our streets have such though provoking names?
Read on for some light hearted humorously handpicked names
Lovelock Street Lovelock Place near Ballygunge, has a fascinating history. It was named after Arthur Samuel Lovelock (one of the partners of Lovelock & Lewis) who died in Calcutta in early 1900s. He was greatly mourned by the business community. Lovelock lived in Ballygunge and the house in which he lived still stands near the entrance of Lovelock Place.
Taltala was named after its tal (Palmyra) trees.
(Hindi: बडा बजार) is a Hindi word meaning big market. In Bengali, it is called Barobazar, (Bengali: বড় বাজার), the meaning remaining same. However, there is another theory. The neighbourhood was earlier named after ‘Buro’, the popular name of Shiva. The Hindi-speaking merchants who ousted the earlier local merchants, made it ‘Bara’
The name is supposed to have originated from Nagtala (Nag meaning Snake, a place of snakes) according to one source and from Nak meaning Swarga(Heaven).
Bow Bazar is commonly said to be a corruption of Bahu Bazar or “Bride’s Bazar”. One source says that a bazar is said to have been part of the share of a daughter-in-law of Biswanath Matilal, but some historians have failed to trace or identify that person.
Jorabagan meaning ‘a pair of gardens’ in Bengali, was so named because the road through it led to the garden houses of Gobindram Mitter and Umichand
There are some legends that this area was owned by Sanaullah Gazi. Sanaullah or Sona Gazi was a Muslim saint. His tomb still remains as Mazar there. The area also was named after him and later the name was changed to the current one.
There are two main views on the etymology of the name Hatibagan. Hati means elephant, bagan means garden. According to one view, the elephants of the Nawab Siraj ud-Daulah were posted here when he attacked Kolkata in 1756. Another view suggests someone with the surname Hati had a villa with garden in this area, leading to the name. The villa was bought by Mehtab Chand Mullick who initiated the market.
Rajabazar was initially called “Raja Ramlochan-er Bazaar” in Bengali
Dharamtala means Holy Street. It is commonly held to derive its name from a large mosque which stood at the site of Cook and Company’s livery stables. Some discern the name as a reference to dharma, one of the units of the Buddhist Trinity. There was a Buddhist temple at Janbazar, nearby. Tipu Sultan Mosque at the corner of Chowringhee Road and Dharmatala, was built in 1842, by Prince Gholam Mohammad, a son of Tipu Sultan. Bioy Ghosh feels that the name Dharmatala is because of the preeminence of Dharmathakur in olden days. Haris and Doms, who are worshippers of Dharmathakur, predominated the area even in the memorable past
Salt Lake city was built on a reclaimed salt-water lake, which gave rise to its popular name of “Salt Lake City”.