It is one of the city’s most prominent gourmet junctions, but is, ironically, located in Kolkata’s dirty underbelly. China Town, home to a few thousand Chinese and some of the best budget noodle-and-chilli chicken restaurants, is avoided by many because of its shabby appearance and scant regard for cleanliness.
Similar is the story for another destination for some tasty Chinese breakfast: Tiretta Bazar near the Lalbazar police headquarters. But the days of neglect of these areas may be over. The state tourism department has roped in the Kolkata Chapter of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach) to create an eco-friendly heritage food hub in China Town.
“Ever since Mamata Banerjee became chief minister, she has been keen on promoting tourism in the state. China Town and Tiretta Bazar are immensely popular among foreigners, domestic tourists and even locals of Kolkata. We want to shed the shabby look of these localities and make them tourist hotspots,” Krishnendu Narayan Choudhury, tourism minister, told HT.
The tourism department has recently appointed Intach to prepare a detailed project report. “We’re preparing a detailed project report with a Singapore-based firm. Our main focus would be to make these localities neat, clean and vibrant without disturbing the heritage structures,” said GM Kapur, convener of the Kolkata Chapter of Intach.
The Chinese came to India after such scholars as Fa Hien (4th century) and Huen Tsang (7th century) wrote about the city. But it was not until the 1700s that the Chinese began settling in Kolkata and Tong Atchew, the owner of a sugar mill in Achipur, around 30km from Kolkata, is regarded as the first Chinese settler in India.
The project will also seek to revitalise trademarks arts and crafts of the Chinese such as carpentry, leather tanneries, shoemaking, hairstyling and dentistry. A Chinese heritage centre and a museum are also on the cards.