Old cities have a charm of their own, a specific charm that is timeless. The streets and the lanes, the buildings and the squares, all have their own intimate stories to tell. They are witnesses of a forgotten past and they speak of the spirit of an age old legacy.
Bow Barracks is located in the heart of the city of Calcutta, just behind the Bowbaza police station, off Central Avenue. The barrack consists of six blocks of three-storeyed buildings that border the narrow lane. The buildings look old and their brick-red paint appears a bit shabby. The big windows of the buildings, mostly painted in green, frame colourful curtains that dance gleefully every now and then, with the provocation of the breeze.
History says, during the Great War, a garrison of American Soldiers was posted in Calcutta and a barrack was built for them in Central Calcutta, along both sides of an alley, which was known as Meeru Jauney Gully in those days. However, the Americans rejected the idea of staying in such a place, which they consider as below their standards and dignity. They shifted to Fort William and the buildings were rented to the blossoming populace of the Anglo-Indian community of the city.
Since then, it is a small hub of mostly Anglo-Indian population, who has lived here for generations. The area hides behind the chaotic markets of Central Avenue inside a narrow lane, known as Bow Street on B B Ganguly Street.
Bow Barracks is a city within the city, it is a different world. The brick-red buildings on both the sides of the historic alley offer an exceptional visual treat. The place breathes an aura of the past and signifies the days of the colonial British era in the city with a different culture, ethnicity and warmth.
The place usually wears a silent look through most part of the year, but comes to life during the Christmas season. The celebration starts from December 23 and continues till the 1st of January. During the gala festive days the buildings are decorated with lights and streamers. A huge stage is erected in the middle of the road to provide a platform for the week long musical performances. Cakes and wine are made in huge quantities at each home and distributed indiscriminately. A dance competition is also organised where residents across age groups participate and enjoy themselves. This is also the home-coming season for many ex-residents and relatives of many residents of Bow Barracks, who are now living abroad.