India // Kolkata & West Bengal //

St Paul’s Cathedral and around

A little way from the Victoria Memorial, past the Birla Planetarium, stands the Gothic edifice of St Paul’s Cathedral, erected by Major W.N. Forbes in 1847. Measuring 75m by 24m, its iron-trussed roof was then the longest span in existence. For improved ventilation, the lancet windows inside extend to plinth level, and tall fans hang from the ceiling. The most outstanding of the many well-preserved memorials and plaques to long-perished imperialists is the stained glass of the west window, designed by Sir Edward Burne-Jones in 1880 to honour Lord Mayo, assassinated in the Andaman Islands. The original steeple was destroyed in the 1897 earthquake; after a second earthquake in 1934 it was remodelled on the Bell Harry Tower at Canterbury Cathedral. South of the cathedral, the Academy of Fine Arts on Cathedral Road is a showcase for Bengali contemporary arts. As well as temporary exhibitions, it holds permanent displays of the work of artists such as Jamini Roy and Rabindranath Tagore. A café and pleasant grounds enhance the ambience. Rabindra Sadan, the large auditorium nearby, features programmes of Indian classical music and next door, Nandan, designed by Satyajit Ray, is a lively film centre.