1822 - Fanny Parks
Arrival at the City of Palaces
Calcutta has been styled the City of Palaces, and it well deserves the name. The Government House stands on the Maidan, near the river; the city, and St. Andrew's Church, lie behind it; to the left is that part called Chowringhee, filled with beautiful detached houses, surrounded by gardens; the verandahs, which generally rise from the basement to the highest story, give, with their pillars, an air of lightness and beauty to the buildings, and protecting the dwellings from the sun, render them agreeable for exercise in the rainy season.
The houses are all stuccoed on the outside, and seem as if built of stone. The rent of unfurnished houses in Chowringhee is very high; we gave 325 rupees a month for ours, the larger ones are from 4 to 500 per month.
The style of an Indian house differs altogether from that of one in England.
The floors are entirely covered with Indian matting, than which nothing can be cooler or more agreeable. For a few weeks, in the cold season, fine Persian carpets, or carpets from Mirzapore are used. The windows and doors are many; the windows are to the ground, like the French ; and, on the outside, they are also protected by Venetian Windows of the same description. The rooms are large and lofty, and to every sleeping-apartment a bathing-room is attached. All the rooms open into one another, with folding-doors, and pankhas are used during the hot weather. The most beautiful French furniture was to be bought in Calcutta of M. de Bast, at whose shop marble tables, fine mirrors, and luxurious couches were in abundance. Very excellent furniture was also to be had at the Europe shops, made by native workmen under the superintendence of European cabinet and furniture makers; and furniture of an inferior description in the native bazaars.
On arriving in Calcutta, I was charmed with the climate; the weather was delicious; and nothing could exceed the kindness we experienced from our friends. I thought India a most delightful country, and could I have gathered around me the dear ones I had left in England, my happiness would have been complete.
Wanderings of a Pilgrim in Search of the Picturesque During 24 Years in the East …
Vol. I, London 1850