M.V. Weybank - Chapter 3

Mandalay

M.V. Weybank - Chapter 3

From the Cape Verde Islands to Durban, the Weybank has sailed approx. 4000 sea miles.

 

Viewing the two chart illustrations joined together below we can see that we will have to sail almost as much again to reach Karachi - approx 3780 sea miles.

From the 1870's chart section above you will be able to find what today is Karachi if you look at the centre top of the chart, just below and to the left of HYDERABAD. There you will find Curachee with the annotation "Light F." (flashing beacon light).

 

Karachi is located on the coastline of Sindh province in southern Pakistan, along a natural harbour on the Arabian Sea.

The Karachi region is believed to have been known to the ancient Greeks. The region may be the site of Krokola, where Alexander the Great once camped to prepare a fleet for Babylonia, as well as Morontobara which may possibly be Karachi's Manora neighbourhood.

 

The British East India Company captured Karachi on February 3, 1839. The town was annexed to British India in 1843, with the city declared capital of the new British province. The city was recognized for its strategic importance, prompting the British to establish the Port of Karachi in 1854. Karachi rapidly became a transportation hub for British India owing to newly built port and rail infrastructure, as well as the increase in agricultural exports from the opening of productive tracts of newly irrigated land in Punjab and interior Sindh.

 

At the dawn of Pakistan's independence in 1947, Karachi was Sindh's largest city with a population of over 400,000

Karachi was selected as the first capital of The State of Pakistan and served as such until the capital was shifted to Rawalpindi in 1958

Karachi's present day population is estimated to be 23.5 million and it is now the second-largest city in the Muslim world.

 

At the end of WWII Pakistan did not exist as a nation. India was still the jewel in the British Empire crown. Because of the number of Indian troops who fought (and many died doing it) for the British Crown during the war, they were promised independance before the war's end and Ghandi had long before inspired his fellow Indians. In 1947 after more than 200 years of British rule, India became an independent nation. However, before the talks between the British govnmt. and the Indian political parties involved leading up to independence, unrest (putting it very mildly) between the major Indian religious denominations (Hindu and Moslem) caused the British to suggest a partition of India. As apparently no better solution could be thought of at the time, the Indian politicians agreed.

The Viceroy of India Lord Louis Mountbatten, the "imperator" of the British "Raj" was given a magnificent send off (reminiscent of the Raj) and by the end of 1948 the British Army and most of the British officials and civilians had also departed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thus began one of the greatest tragodies (or massacres) in the history of mankind. Two areas of India were partitioned for the settlement of Muslims, one to the west of India and one to the east. These two areas were given one title - "The State of Pakistan".

To discern between the two halves, one was called West Pakistan and the other East Pakistan.

 

Directly after partition a massive migration of Muslims flowed from India (which was now to be majority Hindu) to West and East Pakistan and a counter-migration of Hindu's and Sikh's from West and East Pakistan to India. A total of between 10 to 12 million people were thus forced whether they liked it or not to migrate and at least a million of them died on their way, most of them violently, especially in the Punjab.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1962, although India had a border treaty with China, border tensions exploded into a full-scale war.

India was fast gaining greater military assistance from Russia. In 1962, the Soviets agreed to have India co-manufacture the then advanced MiG-21 jet fighter. At the same time, China and the USSR were trading increasingly hostile barbs.

 

By the mid-1960s, the USSR was playing a prominent role in India’s economic and industrial development. Both countries signed a number of bilateral agreements.

 

In 1965 the Soviet Union served successfully as peace broker between India and Pakistan after an Indian-Pakistani border war.

 

In 1968 /69 when I was aboard the Weybank there was a continuous state of agression between India & Pakistan with skirmishes between the two breaking out almost in a regular basis. Also at that time East Pakistan had not yet broken away from Pakistan to become the nation of Bangladesh.

As far as Karachi is concerned, I from personal experience can not say much about it except that it was stamped out at the fringes of a desert (take another look at the chart above). I went ashore there briefly but was glad to get back aboard. It was not on my "Bucket List" (an English term bandied about in UK TV a lot these days meaning roughly "Things I want/intend to do if I get the chance" - what happened to "Wish List"?). I apologize to any Pakistani who may be reading this - I am aware that Karachi has become a modern "Megalopolis" but at the time I was there it still had a long way to go.

 

I was going to write that I never returned but remember now that I did once many years later, on an unscheduled pit-stop aboard a Lufthansa flight from Katmandu to Frankfurt. The on-board service aboard that flight was the worst I ever experienced (from many, many flights I made in the future). We were all dying of thirst before take-off and when the "no smoking" light went off no stewards or stewardesses appeared to help quench it. I got out of my seat and went behind the curtain where they were all hiding, smoking their heads off. Reluctantly they gave me a bottle of mineral water. The flight time from Katmandu to Karachi is relatively short and after we landed we all had to sit in the aircraft for one and a half hours (I timed it) with the doors open, air conditioning off and breathing in high-octane fuel vapour as the aircraft was being tanked-up. A Pakistani with a tank strapped to his back like a Scuba diver then boarded the aircraft and with a nozzle like that of a fire-extinguisher (I mean the tank's) marched down the centre aisle and with a sweeping arm gesture sprayed us all and any other object he could see with anti-mosquito spray. An Indian woman sitting next to me said "Thank God I'm getting off in Bombay" (our next stop after Karachi). I almost answered "Take me with you".

 

 

Above is a Karachi street scene from 1957 - just 11 years before the Weybank arrived. This photo amazes me. I wonder to myself "where have all the people gone?". Then I think - the shadows are long - it must have been taken just after the sun has risen. But why is the street so clean, not a piece of paper, not a piece of anything, pristine. It shames London, New York, Berlin.....

This is more like the Karachi I remember

Adieu Karachi, we are now bound for the port of Colombo on the island of Sri Lanka ( called Ceylon before independence from the British).

 

This island is also known as "Paradise on Earth" and not only by its inhabitants. Its abundant "Flora and Fauna " could feed its population without help from any human being. Once part of the British Raj, when India gained its independence Ceylon soon followed suit, not only from the British but from India. The northern part of Ceylon was inhabited mainly by Tamils, an ethnic southern Indian population who were at the bottom of the Indian popularity scale. Due to the short distance between the mainland of India and Ceylon and aided by the many "stepping stone" islands between them, many Tamils had escaped their inferior status by settling in northern Ceylon. Because this happened generally peacefully, nobody took much notice.

 

This was the Sri Lanka that the we aboard Weybank experienced. Years later the government of Sri Lanka suddenly woke up to the fact that the majority of the northern population of the island were not ethnic Sri Lankans and started to oppress them, fueled by Tamil exhortations of a "Free State of Tamil" or words to that effect.

The Indian government exploited this state of affairs by "going to the aid of Indians" which quickly turned into a full scale invasion and occupation of Sri Lanka. It took a long time before they went back home again (without taking any Tamils back with them).

 

Once India was back home again, the Sri Lanka govnmt. turned their eyes to the north - to the Tamils - and so began a bloody civil war

which gave birth to the "Tamil Tigers" and some of their "firsts" which if I remember correctly included the world's first suicide bomber and definitely the first female suicide bomber. Years later Iraq and Afghanistan copied the blueprint.

 

 

The 1870's chart "zoom in" above of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) clearly shows the "stepping stones" between the north of the island and India. A chain of some of these is named appropriately "Adams Bridge" although I have no clue who Adam was. Just below Colombo

you can see a village called Caltura. Many years after I had left the sea I went to Sri Lanka and worked at the police headquarters in Colombo and also at their police training academy in Kalutra (yes, Caltura became Kalutra). When in Kalutra I stayed at a big modern

tourist hotel right next to the beach which also had a swimming pool which was more like a lake in its size and form. Unfortunately the civil war was in full swing at the time and to get to Kalutra from Colombo , we (the police and a German police officer who I was working with) had to break a three day curfew and travel by night . The hotel had very few guests at the time, not surprisingly.

The day after I flew back home from Sri Lanka, I received a message informing me that a Sri Lanka police technician with whom I had worked with at Kalutra had been shot in the head in the very same room in which we had worked together.

 

Colombo harbour has a large anchorage where at any one time you could count up to ten ships or more anchored. These vessels

loaded/discharged cargo from/into boats and barges tied up alongside. Colombo also had docks but at that time they had a low capacity and in the many times when we returned to Colombo on the Weybank, we never once docked alongside a pier there.

On this our first visit, we were already gone the next day, bound for Calcutta where we would stay for a whole month!

 

You will have noticed that I did not mention the distance or time it took to sail from Karachi to Colombo as by now you will be able to figure that out by yourself with the aid of the chart's lines of latitude. In the future I will also just show the approximate course to our next destination on a chart, as shown below.

The mouths of the Ganges. The wide mouth of the Hooghly River which leads to Calcutta (Kolkata as it is now called) can be seen on the left of the map above

Calcutta

"The City Of Joy"

 

Rudyard Kipling's description of Calcutta:

 

Thus from the midday halt of

Charnock grew a city,

Chance directed, chance erected,

Laid and built, on the silt,

Palace, bier, hovel and pride

side by side.

And on this packed and

pestilential town

death looked down.

 

Above is a magnificent oil painting painted in 1846 by Auguste Borget of an Indian mosque on the banks of the Hooghly.

This painting reflects the colour and atmosphere of the Hooghly as I first saw it as we began the pilotage upriver towards Calcutta.

It was a beautiful morning with hardly a breath of wind or a cloud in the sky. In such latitudes it is the best time of the day as it is the coolest as the sun has barely risen. I could smell the sweet aroma of bougainville or frangipani and other such flora intermingled with smoke from charcoal fires as the Bengali villagers on the banks prepared their breakfasts. We sailed past lush tropical growth, reed marshes, rice fields and villages.

This scenic beauty was marred however when I saw a dead body wrapped in a shroud floating past our ship or better said we sailed

past it as the tide was running upstream but more on this theme later.

If I remember correctly , it took us six hours pilotage before we reached the mooring buoys at the bank of the Hooghly in an area called the Maidan in the heart of Calcutta.

Below is a painting by an artist who I think was Collini, painted in 1908. It shows a group of steamers moored on the Hooghly close offshore from the Maidan. To the right of the steamers you can see a prominent building with a tower at its centre which is the Calcutta High Court.

 

In the photo above to the left there is a prominent white building and a smaller white building facing it. Directly to the right of these buildings you can see a long reddish coloured building with a cream coloured tower on top which is the Calcutta High Court building. The trees running from the High Court to the centre right of the photo mark the edge of the Maidan where it meets the bank of the Hooghly. At the time of the Raj this area was the centre of power in India until, because of so much trouble in Calcutta (and the rest of West Bengal) the Brits moved the capital to Delhi. This area however still remained the seat of power for the Governor of Calcutta/West Bengal; just to the front of the High Court are two other "Raj" buildings (hidden by the trees) - the Town Hall and next to it Government House which is now named Raj Bhavan. In Calcutta, many of these resplendent looking buildings are not only still standing but also continue to function as seats of power. Other such buildings still standing are churches and cathedrals, numerous colonial residences and the Victoria Memorial which stands on the Maidan at its southern edge.

It is to the credit of the Indians that, once they gained their independence, they didn't vent "revenge" on the statues and buildings that the British (or French for that matter) had left behind them.

 

The Maidan is a large park/recreation green belt, "the lungs of Calcutta" as some Calcuttans call it, where the citizens play cricket, ride horses, run (jogging wasn't invented in 1968), have picnics etc. In 1968 it appeared to us as just being a very large grassy/tree lined area which contained some flower gardens and the occasional swimming pool or small lake. It was also a bedroom to the vast number of the homeless and destitute (as was just about any sidewalk or street in Calcutta from which they were not chased away from by the police).

 

 

The Weybank moored at the same spot as the two ships shown on the left of the photo above. Note the crowd of small lighters and barges between the inside vessel and the river bank. There were at the time, and still are, the Kidderpore docks in Calcutta but in all the times we returned to Calcutta we always moored around the same spot on the Hooghly as shown above apart from two occasions when we entered the Kidderpore docks through a lock but even then, once inside the dock we only tied-up alongside once and moored the second time.

 

Through our Indian shipping agents , our company hired a "taxi" for the duration of our stay. These "taxis" were small boats. All the ships moored had one of these so-called "Company Boats" and each had a pole vertically mounted like a mast, flying the flag of the respective shipping company. These boats generally parked at the river bank. When a seaman ashore wanted to return to his ship

he would scan the boat "masts" looking for his company's flag and then finding the boat would point to his ship and the boatman would do the rest.

If a seaman wanted to go ashore, a prearranged signal flag would be hoisted up the signal mast and the boatman seeing it would start paddling towards the ship.

The only other way to get ashore was to risk your health and mayby life by trying to hop from one lighter/barge to another and so on in the hope of reaching the river bank . Even if you fell into the river without bashing your head or breaking any other bones you definitely would not want to swallow a mouthful of Hooghly.

 

About two days after our arrival and just before noon I heard "Sparks" (Radio Officer) being called and went to investigate. I was pointed to an Indian civilian dressed in shipping agent atire of white shirt and black trousers. After having verified that I was indeed me, he told me I had a telephone call from Germany and that the subscriber was holding the line. I thought at first it must be a joke that one of my shipmate's had put him up to. It was unbelievable because at that time to make an international phone call it had to be first booked at the telephone exchange who would then call you back if they succeeded in making a connection to the number you gave them. This could take hour upon hour, half a day, a day or just never happen at all. If you were lucky enough to get a connection, you would be lucky indeed if you could understand half of what the speaker on the other end of the line was saying. Interference picked up along the line in the form of crackling, strange noises and even cross-talk from some other subscriber talking in French, Chinese or some other language were standard "Soup de Jour".

The agent said "Please follow me this way" - which I did. Down the gangway onto the first barge and then hop-scotching across the others until we reached the river bank. He apparently had done this a million times before because he navigated expertly across the

barges. He then took me up the bank to a small ramshackle office where a couple of other agents were beavering away with their paperwork. A large black Victorian looking telephone stood on the only table with the receiver off the hook lying next to it.

 

I picked it up and said "Hello?". I then heard Inge, the girl I had met in Hamburg saying "Is that you? Is that really you?" - she was so overcome with emotion that she kept repeating it and amazingly the line was interference free - clear as a bell.

If this phone call is not a miracle, it surely must be a close contender. How had she managed to make this call? How did she know that we had even arrived in Calcutta? Why did she hold the line open (or how did it stay open) so long for all the time it took for the agent to get aboard the Weybank and then back again, with me behind him?

 

I thanked the shipping agent and in a daze returned aboard but this time taking the "Company Boat" route. There wasn't time to take the leasurely scenic company boat route on the way to the telephone but without the help of "Anjin San" , the expert agent navigator, I wasn't about to hop-scotch my own way back.

 

 

A 1960's view of our mooring station from a different angle. This photo shows not only how a "Company Boat" looked like, namely the boat at the bottom left, but also a close-up of a mooring buoy just above the boat. A pack of lighters/barges can be seen between the ship and the river bank. The river bank itself is mainly mud . Ships moored here loaded/discharged cargo with the aid of their own derricks (ship's cranes) from or into the lighters.

This is a slow method of moving cargo. The Weybank usually carried general cargo meaning anything from dolls eyes from China to whisky for the Vatican. Cargo loaded wasn't simply dumped into a hold - it had to be stowed in a position relative to its intended destination port, like in an old fashioned record player where you could stack records on a spindle. The first record you wanted to listen to was dropped to the bottom of the spindle and the last to the top. On a ship however, you want the cargo intended for the next port of call to be at the top and that for the last and final port of call to be at the bottom. To get it all right, an extensive and continually evolving graphical "Cargo Plan" based on the dimensions of the ship's holds (cargo spaces) was drawn and maintained by the ship's Mate's. (On a few ship's I sailed on we even had a Cargo Manager as a crew member who's only responsibility was doing the above).

 

Calcutta can only be fathomed, if at all, with the aid of a bit of its history and geopolitics ; we will return to Calcutta repeatedly in the future; as it is now our unofficial homeport, here are a few preliminary details:

 

"Calcutta (now called Kolkata) is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. Located on the east bank of the Hooghly river, it is the principal commercial, cultural, and educational centre of East India, while the Port of Calcutta is India's oldest operating port and its sole major riverine port. The city itself has 4.5 million residents; the city and its suburbs together are home to approximately 14 million, making it the third-most populous metropolitan area in India.

 

Spread roughly north–south along the east bank of the Hooghly River, Calcutta sits within the lower Ganges Delta of eastern India; the city's elevation is 1.5–9 m (5–30 ft). Much of the city was originally a wetland that was reclaimed over the decades to accommodate a burgeoning population.

 

The word Calcutta (now Kolkata) derives from the Bengali term Kolikata, the name of one of three villages that predated the arrival of the British, in the area where the city eventually was to be established; the other two villages were Sutanuti and Govindapur.

While the city's name has always been pronounced Kolkata in Bengali, the anglicised form Calcutta was the official name until 2001, when it was changed to Kolkata in order to match Bengali pronunciation.

 

In the late 17th century, the three villages that predated Calcutta were ruled by the Nawab of Bengal under Mughal (Mogul) suzerainty. After the Nawab granted the East India Company a trading license in 1690, the area was developed by the Company into an increasingly fortified mercantile base. Nawab Siraj ud-Daulah retook Calcutta in 1756 after the Company started evading taxes and due to increasing militarisation of the fort. The East India Company retook it in the following year and in 1793 assumed full sovereignty. Under the Company rule and later under the British Raj, Calcutta served as the capital of British-held territories in India until 1911, when its perceived geographical disadvantages, combined with growing nationalism in Bengal, led to a shift of the capital to New Delhi. The city was a centre of the Indian independence movement; it remains a hotbed of contemporary state politics. "

 

The last line written above is no understatement ; in 1968 during our calls at Calcutta there were repeated and sudden demonstrations, most of them instigated by the Communist Party of India and many of them turning violent . These could flare up at any time but they occured mainly in the evenings in the slightly cooler air and at places where the general public (those who could afford it) would enjoy the "sights and sounds" of Chowringhee (at that time the Oxford Street or Unter den Linden of Calcutta) or other such venures. I can recall at least two or three times when we were suddenly caught up in the middle of such demos. In one of them, red banners held high, a phalanx of of "Red Guards" marched down the centre of the street flanked on each side by a Bengali sized flood of supporters which, as we stood there in our innocence, simply opened up (like Moses experienced in the Red Sea) and continued on flowing past either side of us.

I today am still amazed. We three Brits who obviously didn't bear any resemblance to a Bengali or any other Indian were simply ignored . After 200 or more years of British subjugation , not one of them pointed us out for "special treatment" and it was not as if there hadn't been any eye contact between us either. We stood out like a red London double-decker bus parked on an iceberg.

 

On the other such occasions which I experienced, there was no demonstrative march involved signalling anything coming but instead a sudden conflagration flared out of nowhere which involved all standing around us, only we, once again appeared to be invisible.

 

In all the times which I walked amongst the millions of Calcuttans, never once was I accosted in any way; neither threatened by gesture, by mouth or by eye (except for one time when a group of Bengalis in animated conversation with each other were walking past me and suddenly one of them turned his head from his companions and spat out a stream of betel nut juice which landed on my left forearm. Accidents will happen and I didn't shout or dance around but they all showed their concern and the perpetrator even attempted to clean the red stain off with his shirt tails which I prevented because I knew it was probably the only shirt he possessed - I was later happy to know that he didn't suffer from TB which was a common ailment in India - I never contracted it).

 

Such demonstrations could turn "nasty" at the blink of an eye and one of them involving religion is infamous, being without doubt the major reason why partitioning of India occured a year later in 1947 (the partitioning itself caused a massacre which would seem to relegate the riot which caused it to "footnote" status):

 

The Calcutta Communal Riot or Great Calcutta Killings - August 1946

Direct Action Day (16 August 1946), also known as the Great Calcutta Killing, was a day of widespread riot and manslaughter in the city of Calcutta in the Bengal province of British India.

 

The region most affected by the violence was the densely populated sector of the city bounded by Park Circus and Lower Circular Road on the south, CIT Road on the east, Vivekananda Road on the north and Strand Road on the west. Official estimate put the casualties at 4,000 dead and 100,000 injured. Other sources put the death toll at 7,000–10,000. Some authors have claimed that most of the victims were Hindus. However, others indicate appreciably more Muslims were killed than Hindus.

 

Skirmishes between the communities continued for almost a week. Finally, on 21 August, the Muslim Laegue govt was dismissed and Bengal was put under Viceroy's rule. 5 battalions of British troops, supported by 4 battalions of Indians and Gurkhas, were deployed in the city. The rioting reduced on 22 August.

 

I have seen photographs of the victims which leave nothing to the imagination.

 

 

1960's view of the Hooghly south of the Maidan .

The two ships at the top centre are both British India Steam Navigation Company (BISNC) vessels . The black hulled vessel is a BISNC cargo vessel while the white hulled vessel to the right is a BISNC cargo-passenger liner. Some British shipping companies specialised in trade to and from India and BISNC was one of them. Another was Brocklebank but the Bank Line, Andrew Weir & Co. must surely win first place in the pecking order by the sheer number of vessels they had in their fleet at the time which regularly visited Indian ports.

 

The bathers in the photo above are at the site of a Ghat.

A Ghat is basically a set of steps which lead down a river bank to the river. Some of these ghats have elaborate sets of steps leading from imposing buildings which, if viewed from the river look like steps leading up to an imposing opera house. Ghats have various purposes. Some are only for washing yourself or your clothes or just relaxing from the heat whilst others are religious ghats used for ritual bathing or ablutions. Still other Ghats called "Shmashana" are cremation ghats where bodies are cremated waterside, allowing ashes to be washed away by the river. The Ganges is for Hindus a holy river and as the Hooghly is a tributory it too is holy.

 

The Hooghly river has numerous ghats; the contemporary photo directly below shows a Hooghly ferry passing a ghat (at the extreme right of the photo).

 

Below: a black & white photograph of Mallik Ghat in Calcutta shot by the US American photographer Hensley in 1944. This photo shows the ghat in a pristine state, almost as if it had been just built. The Hooghly is a tidal river and in this photo it is at its high-tide mark, flowing into the basement of the extension at the left of the photo.

Mallik Ghat today: not only is the tide running out, the ghat itself has run down and lost its charisma.

In the middle of this chapter of the Weybank, I have to be careful not to inadvertently turn this story into a Tourist Guide or World Traveller's Blog - you can find enough of both today in the internet. I also have to be careful that I don't get carried away with the history of India. In 1968 there was no internet, no "tourist bomber" airlines; tourists in Calcutta were non-existent , tourists in India were only the very rich pining either for the remnants of the Raj, the Taj Mahal or the exotic pull of Rudyard Kipling's story telling.

 

When the Beatles got fed up singing "Love , Love Me Do" and "She Loves Me" etc., they looked to India for inspiration/enlightenment

and they got all they wished for. Chuck the Guitar out the window - "Gimme the Sitar!";

"George, you got an Embassy or Woodbine?" -

"Sorry mate but I've given them up, I smoke the local stuff now, it even grows wild on the banks of the Hooghly (and it does), a few puffs and I learnt to play the Sitar backwards with fifteen fingers"

 

This message made its way slowly back to the UK and then the rest of the world. In 1967 the airwaves were filled with "If you go to San Francisco be sure to wear a flower in your hair" and the "Mama's & Papa's" etc.

By 1968 George's message finally got through: "F... SF, git yo'r asses down ta India ASAP: free 6, free Ganji/Mary Jane, free psycho trip, free accomodation (the Maidan or just where you feel like crashing), a guy called Hari Krishna even gives you orange robes to disguise yourself so that even the locals can't tell if you're either Hindu or Budhist - he even teaches you how to have sex with anything "

 

The youth of Europe and the US were inspired by Sgt. Pepper : "India Needs You" - there was only one problem but it was a major problem - how to get there without a lot of money?

 

Thus, we in 1968 aboard the Weybank (and the Indians too all over India) were spared the arrival of the coming flood which was just in the "thumb's up" stage of transport at Dover or Heathrow (the more kiffed). It took them at least a year before they eventually staggered into India but still managing to maintain their superior intellect (with the help of the Mummie & Daddie Bank which banked upon them disappearing for iternity - no such luck!). Why the Indians allowed them to roam around unmolested instead of kicking them straight away into the Ganges, I will never comprehend (possibly because the Ganges is a holy river and they didn't want to desecrate it?).

 

Now after explaining why India in 1968 was more or less tourist- and definitely "hippie" free, I can continue with my story but to do so I need the help of some maps so that you will be able later to know what I am talking about. The map below is an excerpt from a map which was drawn in 1893. You are probably thinking "why is he going back 123 years?" but the answer is that the map below has more relevance to the Calcutta that I knew in 1968 than does a map of Calcutta today.

 

The Hugli Bridge in 1893 was a pontoon bridge which in the mid 1930's was dismantled and replaced by a cantilever steel bridge now called the Hooghly Bridge. If you look at the blue expanse of the Hugli (now Hooghly) river you will see many ghats marked which you will not see on a modern map. Another major landmark which is no more by name is the Chauringhi Road - in 1968 this road was called the Chowringee Road (not much difference) but nowadays this same road has been built over with a fly-past road with a completely different name.

 

The whole of the lime green area is commonly referred to as the Maidan. At the top of it you can see from left to right in a row the High Court, Town Hall and Government House (now called the Raj Bhavan). Below the High Court in an area of the Maidan called the Eden Gardens is where the Weybank moored. The west bank of the Maidan has a road running along it called The Strand.

 

Fort William, as its name suggests was just that - a British Army fort.

Just below Ft.William on the east bank of the Hooghly you will find Prinseps Ghat which unlike the other ghats marked you will find on a modern map.

At the lower left of the lime green Maidan you will find St.Pauls Cathedral and just below and to the left you will find the Presidency Jail

St. Pauls Cathedral still stands today but in place of the Presidency Jail and vicinity , the Victoria Memorial was built.

 

Near the bottom left of the map you can see the Kidderpore Docks (Dock No.1, Dock No.2) and to the left on the Hooghly bank "P&O Co's Jetty" and "P&O Co's Premises" - the "Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co. Ltd."

 

 

Below is a painting of the Weybank on the Hooghly passing the Esplanade Moorings (which are just a little bit north of the Prinseps Ghat and to the left of Fort William) with only 100/150 metres to go before reaching her destination moorings just south of Eden Gardens.

Note the mud bank between the river and Terra Firma!

The picture above which was painted in 1908 by Frank Clinger Scallan is of the Garden Reach bank of the Hooghly in Calcutta. Sixty years later in 1968, the scene had hardly changed. Only the ships' construction had evolved through the years. Note the "company flag" on the boat in the foreground!

 

Below: A contemporary street map of Calcutta. The Howrah Cantilever Bridge, Victoria Memorial and Kidderpore Docks are marked in violet and the approx. mooring position of the Weybank in red. The Vidyasagar Seti Bridge did not exist in 1968. The thin grey lines generally running north/south are tram lines and one of them runs through the Maidan parallel to the Khidderpur Road.

Just so that I don't lose track in all the maps above and forget to tell you what I was really looking for in India - here she is :(unfortunately I didn't find her).