Antiqua Print Gallery Great Eastern Hotel, Kolkata
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Great Eastern Hotel, Kolkata

The Great Eastern Hotel was born Auckland Hotel in 1841, at the crossroads of the Old Courthouse Street and British India Street, founded by confectioner David Wilson and named after the current Governor General Lord Auckland. It grew from strength to strength over the 19th and first half of the 20th century. Locally known as "Wilson's Hotel", it was also known as "Auckland Hotel and the Hall of Nations" in the 19th century, and was referred to as the "Japani Hotel" (Japanese Hotel) colloquially in the 20th century, due to the large number of Japanese tourists there. The hotel was extremely elite, referred to as the Jewel of the East and "the best hotel East of the Suez" by Mark Twain on his voyage along the Equator, and described by Rudyard Kipling in "The City of Dreadful Night". It had notable board members like the author Parry Chand Mitter and stockholders like W. C. Bonnerjee - president of the Indian National Congress. The hotel was famous for its new year parties thrown by Maharajahs (like the Maharajah of Cooch Behar) uptil the 1950s. It has been host to such notables as Queen Elizabeth II on her India visit, Nikita Khruschev's delegation in the 1950s, and visiting international cricket teams. The hotel kitchens, manned by the legendary Baruahs of Chittagong (now in Bangladesh), was the talk of Kolkata. It steadily progressed downhill since the 1970s, and was taken over by the Government of West Bengal in 1975 on grounds of insolvency. Labour union problems caused the hotel to worsen until a sensationalist news campaign by The Telegraph exposed the sorry state of the hotel in the 1990s. The hotel was privatised in November 2005 with the help of PricewaterhouseCoopers and has been re-christened The Grand Great Eastern Kolkata. It is expected to reopen after extensive renovation in 2007.

(Source Wikipedia)