The name itself has an old-world charm. Known as the famous boi-para, it is a large open air series of stall-like shops selling all kind of books on either side of the footpath bordering College Street, near the oldest part of the colonial city. The entire stretch houses some of the world's oldest educational institutes like Calcutta University, Presidency College etc. The Indian Coffee House, a cafe that has attracted the city's intelligentsia for decades is also located here. Magnificent in architecture, boi para is the world's second largest market of second hand books; all sorts of them - from classics, textbooks, and manuscripts to comics and so on - are sold at unbelievably low prices. However a modern and new age book mall is coming up here.
College Street epitomizes the quintessential culture-scape of a stereotypical Bengali gentleman, raised on a constant diet of books and Adda. Most of the Bengali book publishers have their offices in College Street. College square or Vidyasagar Tank is one of the most popular landmarks here. The tank is divided into sectors, each dedicated to a particular water-sport like swimming, diving and water polo.
Renowned indologist and educator David Hare's (1775-1842) grave is located to the south of this tank. Hare, along with Raja Rammohan Roy reasoned with the British Empire and became instrumental in founding Hindu College in 1817. In 1855, the school was split up in Hindu School and Presidency College. The rise of modern Bengal is deeply rooted in the history of this institution. Academy Award winner film-maker Satyajit ray and Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen studied in this college.
Some of the biggest names of the Indian Freedom Struggle, including five presidents of the Congress (Surendranath Banerjea, Romesh Chundra Dutt, Bhupendra Nath Bose, Satyendra Prasanno Sinha and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose) attended the college and so did Dr Rajendra Prasad, the first President of Independent India.
The list of alumni also includes eminent scientists and scholars like Sir JC Bose, Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee, Sir Jadunath Sarkar, PC Mahalanobis and litterateurs like Bankim Vhandra Chatterjee, Michael Madhusudan Dutt, Sukumar Ray and Jibanananda Das. It was upgraded to the status of a Deemed University by the Presidency University Act of 2010.
In 1820 Arupuli Pathsala came up directly across Presidency College. It was later called Colootola Bramch School and in 1867, was renamed as Hare School. It continues to be the one of the best schools in the city.
Facing Presidency College is the Indian Coffee House, operating since 1942. Over the years, Coffee House became the haven for artists and intellectuals alike. Old-timers recount how Satyajit Ray would sit in a corner and sketch scenes for his forthcoming films and Manna Dey would break out into impromptu songs.
Sanskrit College is located nearby, a few paces from Coffee House. Established in 1824, the college initially was open only to the Brahmin Students and this practice was abolished by Pundit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, the second principal.
University of Calcutta main campus is located at the junction of College Street and Surya Sen Street. Known as Heritage Shiksha Prangan, this group of heritage architecture house the office of vice-chancellor and registrar of the university. Founded on 24 January, 1857, it the first modern university of the Indian Subcontinent. Ronal Ross, CV Raman, Rabindranath Tagore and Amartya Sen, the four Nobel Laureates are associated with this university.
Kolkata Medical College and Hospital is located adjacent to the university. Established on 28 January, 1835, it is the oldest college of Occidental medicine in Asia.
Located just behind Kolkata Medical College, the School of Tropical Medicine on Chittaranjan Avenue was set up in 1921.
A wealthy zamindar Shankar Ghosh built Thanthania Kalibari in 1703 which is just half a kilometre north of College Square and another tourist attraction. This much revered temple enshrines Devi Siddheswari, a manifestation of Goddess Kali.