The Messbari Project

The Messbaris, or traditional boarding houses, in Kolkata are in a state of rapid decay. In Calcutta’s cultural and economic heyday in the early and mid-20th century, the messbaris provided much-needed affordable accommodation in the city for young bachelors, many of whom would go on to become famous in the fields of literature, academics, or sciences. The vibrant “Mess-culture” became central to a number of Bengali novels and inspired Bengali movies. While many of the old boarding houses still survive, they are often at-risk structures that face demolition, which makes recording them imperative. The objective of the current project is to create just that as a first step to stir public awareness about the boarding houses and hopefully generate interest in conserving them. 


January-March 2019


This project was independently funded by Heritage Walk Calcutta

The #MessbariProject Team


Anmol Grover

MSc Sustainable Building Conservation

Cardiff University


Barshana Basu

MA History (Final Year)

Jadavpur University


Dipanwita Paul

BA English (Final Year)

Jadavpur University