Netaji & Rajendra Prasad Have Had Their Pictures Taken At This Studio-Bookstore Above Coffee House

3475 Interested |


Photography and art enthusiasts, drop by at Boi-Chitra – a spectacular art studio, museum and bookstore built in memory of Kolkata’s first professional photographer, Charu Guha.

Great For

Vintage Photos, Photo Studio, Library

Why Should I Go There?

The next time you go to the Indian Coffee House at College Street for some Manna Dey-inspired adda, walk to the top floor through the uncharted corridor until you reach the very end. On your left you’ll find a space decorated with old photographs and a huge window overlooking Presidency University. You’ll have arrived at Boi-Chitra, a bookstore, meeting space, art studio and museum housing the work of Kolkata’s legendary photographer, Charu Guha. The space served as his own studio once where he would click photos of a variety of subjects from sports teams, newly-weds, and university graduates to historical figures like Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose and President Rajendra Prasad. For the vintage photos and items, for the books collection. Boi-Chitra houses Kolkata’s first artificial photography lights used by Guha himself, which he brought on his way back from Germany. The sheer size of the bulbs left us stunned – they were almost as big as a table lamp itself! Also check out the rooms adjacent to the studio which served as dressing rooms for men and women who came to get their pictures clicked.

Boi-Chitra is also the venue for a variety of events like book launches, seminars, live music shows and so much more. The bookstore near the entrance is a treasure trove of rare finds, especially in the vernacular language {they even have hard-to-find books on photography}. Titles range from Bengali literary works like Polash Photar Din by Manoj Pal and translations of Mao Se Tung’s writings, to English books like multiple volumes of Research World, Christopher Claudwell’s The Crisis in Physics and English translations of Bengali literature. Boi-Chitra is the place you’ll find rare collectibles you might not even find anywhere in College Street! We also love the name, a pun in itself – ‘Boi-Chitra’ as a single word means ‘variety’ in Bengali. And when separated into two, it stands for ‘books and photographs’. Ingenious, eh?

Pro Tip

The gentlemen who sit at the desk are the loveliest hosts – friendly and ever-ready to strike up conversations regarding the studio, photography, and the imagery of Calcutta back in their day. If you’re lucky, you might even chance upon the grandson of Guha, Shyamal Guha, who’ll furnish you with anecdotes and insider stories to those days!