[First appearance of this post on Sunday, November 20, 2005]
In 1840, built by David Wilson, Great Eastern came into being, about the time when Kolkata was being hailed as a great business destination, east of Suez. The view before the hotel was an unbridled landscape up to river Hooghly, dotted occasionally by equally majestic buildings. Horse-drawn carriages would speed up on the roads bearing persons of importance.
The hotel itself was a place of regale. People who visited, prided for having set foot on the premises. Not without reasons. For, Great Eastern truly was a grand affair, and Englishmen from far and near loved every occasion to be part of it.
The eclipse came about in late sixties last century. Government took over the reins in 1975, but the glorious days remained lost. Great Eastern bled and continued to suffer from ignominy, till at last it could no more.
After prolonged dithering, Great Eastern is now sold to Lalit Suri, a hotelier of some fame. Suri is savvy and assures Great Eastern will shortly become a happening address in the city. May that happen, and in no time. I eagerly look forward to see more of Great Eastern with same pomp and splendor it could once boast of 100 years back.