Kolkata’s Tiretta Bazaar aka ‘Old Chinatown’ is now on the WMF 2022 watch list!

Putting the spotlight on Tiretta Bazaar and its Chinese community, the World Monuments Fund (WMF) has added the country’s first Chinatown in its heritage list.

Right in the heart of the sprawling metropolis of Kolkata, lies the heritage destination of Tiretta Bazaar, which has now been included in the World Monuments Fund (WMF) watchlist for 2022. Before this, Dalhousie Square became the first place in the city to be included in the prestigious list back in 2005.

Celebration of chinese new year at kolkata's tiretta bazaar. Image: shutterstock/rudra narayan mitra. | tiretta bazaar
Celebration of Chinese New Year at Kolkata’s Tiretta Bazaar. Image: Shutterstock/Rudra Narayan Mitra.

Popularly known as the Old Chinatown, the neighbourhood  began to take on a Chinese identity in the mid-eighteenth century and was once home to around 20,000 Chinese Indian nationals, including Hakka and Cantonese communities. Over the time, it took on the style and traditions of China, with shops and establishments, notably restaurants, popping up in the area.

While individual temples in the area are already recognised and protected, this recognition will further safeguard the entire neighborhood and draw attention to the need for better services, while encouraging its integration into citywide development plans.

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Nam soon temple in old chinatown. Image: courtesy world monuments fund. | tiretta bazaar
Nam Soon Temple in Old Chinatown. Image: Courtesy World Monuments Fund.

The WMF’s watch list for this year focusses on 25 heritage sites of extraordinary significance, facing pressing challenges. The inclusion is expected to bring the much-needed recognition to Tiretta Bazaar and its diverse people who made it the thriving commercial and cultural center that it is today.

Through the World Monuments Watch list, WMF collaborates with local partners to design and implement targeted conservation programs — including advocacy, planning, education, and physical interventions in the historic built environment — to improve human well-being through cultural heritage preservation

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