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‘Shabeki’ café in North Kolkata where Derozio held meetings - GetBengal story

7 October, 2023 17:00:23
‘Shabeki’ café in North Kolkata where Derozio held meetings - GetBengal story

Baithak Khana café, North Kolkata

Cafes are the ideal place to relax after a long day of work, to catch up with a friend or to work in a quiet environment. Nowadays, cafes are all over the city and in almost every corner a new café can be discovered. Most have Instagrammable air-conditioned interiors and tend to be quite expensive. However, the “Chaa er dokaner adda” (chit-chat at a tea stall) is a culture deeply ingrained in the Bengali ethos and very few joints do we find these days where such Addas can be enjoyed.

Majestic interior of the cafe

The old lanes of North Kolkata nestle a hidden gem which is reviving the adda culture of the Bengalis. Baithak Khana is one such café whose walls, windows, seating give a “shabeki” (archaic) vibe. The family-owned bistro is situated on Bidhan Sarani, near College Street. The walls of the café are adorned with beautiful artwork. The café is looked after by siblings- Archita Nath Khan and Banibrata Nath Khan. The artworks on the walls of the café are done by Shraboni Nath Khan, wife of Banibrata. The house belonged to reverend Krishnamohan Bandopadhyay. His sister, Troilokyamohini Devi had a son, Nibaron Mukhopadhyay, who was a lawyer. The current owners’ father, Balaichand Nath Khan bought the house from Nibaron Bandyopadhyay. This heritage site has been transformed into a cozy place for the young as well as the old, to help all retain and understand the history of this city. Krishnamohan Bandopadhyay was a member of the Young Bengal Group, a movement of free thinkers from Presidency College (then Hindu College). What is more intriguing is that the place which has been turned into a café is where he held meetings with historic figures like Derozio.

Entering the café gives one a homely feeling. The interiors are minimalistic, decorated with fairy lights, in the ceiling, the kadi barga structure is visible which is an inherent feature of any old Bengali house. Places like Baithak Khana which turn heritage houses into cafes blend Calcutta’s colonial history with young Kolkata’s aspirational lifestyle. The buildings draw on the city’s rich history and architecture and use them as props to draw in ever more youthful crowds, many of whom savour the “experience” as much as the caffeine served in tasteful mugs and cups. The café offers a range of beverages and snacks to its patrons such as tea, coffee, sandwich, soup etc.


Most cafes have themed décor but Baithak Khana sticks to the basics- tables and chairs, bamboo stool, benches, a large bed and cushions, a rowak outside the house, all of these are familiar to the Bengalis and hence, the youths can be a tad bit more comfortable and enjoy themselves like they are at home. Heritage houses are often abandoned by nuclear families as it is not possible to portion out a whole house, hence it seems easier for them to sell the property and share the money. Restoring and maintaining such heritage buildings is a must, so that the coming generations can get the essence of the City of Joy that we cherish. Baithak Khana is one such café which is playing a key role in shaping the culture of the youths of Kolkata.

The cafe offers an array of savouries


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