Literature and trams—the two things Kolkata prides itself on—have now come together. The city just got its first library on wheels, and it cuts through College Street, rolling from Esplanade to Shyambazar, one of the oldest tram routes in Kolkata.
Aboard the 32-seater library, bibliophiles will have access to an array of books, magazines and material to prepare for competitive examinations such as the GMAT, GRE and WBCS. The tram is air-conditioned and also features WiFi for those who wish to read e-books. The library could also be the venue for book launches and book reading sessions in the near future. A literature festival is in the works for November.
The tram passes by nearly 30 educational institutes along the way, including the University of Calcutta, Bethune College, Presidency University, Scottish Church Collegiate School, Calcutta Medical College and Hospital, and Adi Mahakali Pathshala. The aim is to get students to hop on and explore the city’s rich heritage and literature at the same time. There will 25 stops along the 5km route, with five of them on College Street.
The Esplanade to Shyambazar track was one of the six tram routes that was damaged when Cyclone Amphan hit Kolkata in May. The services, which ply on the city’s heritage routes, have been shut since then. They resumed on 24 September, which is also when the library was launched by the West Bengal Transport Corporation.
Trams have been a part of Kolkata’s streets since 1902. The service is not just the oldest in Asia, but also the last surviving one in India.