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Shiuli – The Parcel Café bears testimony to the ongoing history of the General Post Office of Kolkata - GetBengal story

16 September, 2023 10:37:11
Shiuli – The Parcel Café bears testimony to the ongoing history of the General Post Office of Kolkata - GetBengal story

If you are in the vicinity of Esplanade, you cannot miss the new gem in the block --- the first-ever Postal Café in India. Lovingly named Shiuli – the postal café is a testimony to the ongoing history of GPO or General Post Office of Kolkata. The postal system was introduced in Kolkata by Warren Hastings in 1774. Construction of the majestic structure of GPO started in 1864 and was completed in 1868. GPO is the central post office of Kolkata and the prime post office of West Bengal. It takes care of the outbound and inbound mails and parcels of the city. No wonder a café tucked quietly inside will be not just another café, but a prime heritage spot where one can enjoy their evening adda.

Cafe interiors

The imposing structure of GPO was designed by Walter B. Grenville in 1864. The massive structure of GPO is highly admired for its high domed roof, which raises over 220 feet, and the towering Ionic-Corinthian pillars. The building’s white dome with a huge clock is supported by an octagonal base and 28 Corinthian pillars. A postal museum was also created to display an excellent collection of artifacts and stamps. The Philatelic Bureau is situated at the southwestern end of the building. Now the GPO becomes the first post office in the country where a café has been opened on the premises. “We had a brainstorming session last year in Delhi to boost the parcel business and this idea was put forward by us,” said J. Charukesi, chief postmaster general, West Bengal circle.

Cafe interiors

Beautifully named after a popular autumn flower of Bengal, Shiuli -- the Parcel Café remains open from 11 am to 7 pm other than public holidays/Sundays and is run by the in-house catering department, which used to run a small staff canteen at a corner of the hall. The rest of the hall served as a counter for philatelic exhibits like mugs, coasters, cushions, and brass plates, all bearing prints of appropriate stamps. These items will continue to be on sale at the cafe, which has been tastefully decorated on a postal theme by an in-house team. Brightly colored wooden furniture and sofas seat about 34 people across the 1,450sqft space, maintaining ample distancing.


Antique artefacts

Arun Kumar Choubey, who is in charge of the café spoke to our correspondent stating: “There was a postal shop set up in 2015 at GPO named Shiuli. This café is a revamped version of the same opened this month keeping in mind the people who come here daily and stand in long queues in need of some refreshment at times.” Being in the central office district, the café is also drawing post-office crowds who are meeting here to have discussions, official meets, or merely an adda. 

Display and Sale corners

Also read : Shiuli – the first Parcel Café of India in Bengali -Click Here

The cafe throws up a vintage charm and colonial hangover with its interiors. At one end is the postal shop, and at the other end is the sale counter. The best part is the beamed architecture with old chandeliers, spears used by the earliest postmen, and several photographs on the postal theme. The balcony just outside the café is huge and one gets a perfect view from within. There stands within the café priceless artifacts including a century-old weighing machine to weigh postal luggage. There are many books and newspapers that one can read while sipping a cuppa. One can buy souvenirs from the postal shop and send them by post from the GPO itself. If you wish to have light refreshments and coffee or tea in the middle of history, then Shiuli -- Parcel Café should be your next destination for sure. 



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