I have a fascination for the unusual. I am no critic or voyeur, but according to me the heritage and culture of a place is reflected in its basic amenities like food and transport and what the natives wear. Kolkata is no stranger to this. I am not a big fan of the place, but there are certain unusual attributes about this place which definitely attracts my attention. Modernization has spread its tentacles into civilization, and it has slowly started taking over heritage and culture has well. We all want the Next-gen thing that can provide us with the rush of adrenaline that we all seem to be looking for in life. I am no stranger to such a norm. I can not fathom to spend my day without my phone. The dwindling of battery feels me with more fear than any other phobia that I may have.
Trams are one of the most authentic heritages of Kolkata and is known as the oldest operating electric tram in Asia. It has been over 140 years now, but the first tram service was started from February in year 1873. Horse-drawn trams were introduced in Kolkata in year 1873 and the electric locomotive trams began running from year 1882.
In recent past, they have been extensively utilized in numerous Bollywood and Tollywood movie scenes, ranging from Satyajit Ray in Mahanagar to Sujoy Ghosh’s in Kahaani. Let’s not forget Byomkesh Bakshi as part of the Tram’s historical portfolio.
It is quite difficult to actually depict the traffic when the trams from the past come in close contact with modern upstaging of vehicle. The decline in tram movement during the peak hours, combined with no fare revisions for years and resulted in decline of the city tram.
Kolkata’s trams suffered a major blow when Calcutta Tramways Company (CTC )decided to introduce buses in November 1992. Today, CTC incurs a huge operating loss of over Rs 10 crore. The bus fleet has increased from 40 to 400, but the number of trams has dropped from 530 in the early 1980s to 270, of which only 130 ply on the streets.
The Government has decided to revitalize this history from the brink of extinction by providing to fund and improve the facilities and make it more approachable and attractive to the common people. In a commendable endeavor, The CTC has launched a new AC tram restaurant as a step to restore the heritage values and rejuvenate the current tramway routes running all across the city. The AC tram is stationed at Esplanade in heart of the city and is finding several takers who wish to enjoy the history and food in a unique and well, cool way.
As of now, 25 trams have been renovated out of a total of 269 trams in Kolkata. These trams ply on heritage routes of the city covering several buildings like Government House, General Post Office, St Andrews Church, the Black Pagoda, Rabindra Bharati campus, Jain Temple, Presidency College, Calcutta University, Ashutosh Museum and Coffee House. Basically, you get a heritage tour coupled with authentic Bengali cuisine. Keeping in mind the travellers and tourists that throng the city, fares have been kept reasonable ranging from Rupees five and above depending on the nature of the ride.
Well I am salivating!!! Food and a good ride, what’s there to complain, right? Wanna take a ride?