Panorama of Calcutta (1899)

November 16 2012

Film made by the Warwick Trading Company. Fascinating because of its age, but the title is wrong. These are ghats of Bernares or Varanasi, four hundred miles up the Ganges, not of Calcutta, where the Hooghly is a Ganges tributary. The mistake was presumably deliberate. The word Calcutta meant more to people at home than Bernares.

BD Garga, From Raj to Swaraj: The Non-fiction Film in India, New Delhi, Penguin/Viking, 2007, a book which, strangely enough, I have, mentions the Company, but not the film. Swaraj was Gandhi’s conception of governance in India after independence.

Ghats are steps leading down to water, often a holy river. The word can also refer to a mountain range, eg Western and Eastern Ghats. In Marathi and Gujarati it can mean a mountain pass.

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