This book discovers the areas of Kolkata, where heritage houses and history fill every crowded lane and secret courtyard. Languishing in another time and place, these architectural and cultural repositories lie amazingly at the end of narrow lanes and behind untidy shop-fronts. The book contains enchanting pictures-each telling a tale of the years gone by. 'To know the history of this great city, one has to understand the 'great houses' of Calcutta,' says the author. She takes the readers to the good old days of British Raj and the Rajahs who lived an aristocratic lifestyle in the wealthiest province in India and patronized art and architecture. She peeps into those buildings and meets the descendents and their family members. 'Babus had inherited wealth from their ancestors and were determined to spend it. They filled their extensive homes with chandeliers from Venice and mirrors from Belgium, crystals from France and paintings, furniture, music boxes and doll houses from England.' Joanne Taylor focuses her camera on these very objects and tells a fascinating tale woven through interesting anecdotes of incidents like pet-marriages, visits to nautch¬girls, kite-flying sessions and the like. With the abolition of privy purses these magnificent mansions may now be in ruins, yet they tell a tale of Calcutta's past opulence; of 'Great Houses' which, no doubt, have their place in the history of Bengal. The author visits these houses to exemplify the many and varied styles of architecture and lifestyles that in some cases continue even today. She talks to the families living in there and unfolds the mystery behind these ruins.
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