Rudyard Kipling used a Rolls Royce for six years before he sold it to Kumar Ganga Dhar Bagla in London in 1927. He transported it to his Kolkata, the then known as Calcutta, estates. Henceforth it stayed in there as the trusty car for the family idol of ‘Lord Satyanarayan’. It is known as ‘debottor sampatti’ meaning the property of The God.
This debottor estate was formed by Raja Raibahadur Shew Bux Bagla in 1884. This estate consists of a number of Satyanarayan Temples across India in the states of Bengal, Gujrat and Rajesthan.
The chassis and the engine are kept intact. The original body, manufactured by Hooper, is later transformed into a chariot with a throne for the Lord. The family takes Lord Satyanarayan, another form of Lord Sree Krishna, for a ride before the festival of Holi also known as the Dol Yatra. The car is owned by Lalit Bagla. Mr Bagla informed us that the car is about to be 100 years of age.
Srivardhan Kanoria, vintage car collector and founder of Eastern Motoring Group said that this car is one of its kind bearing the legacy of England and holy India.
Every year, as spring comes to India, the city of Kolkata waits for this historic event to be repeated just a couple of days before the actual Holi. Decorated with flowers and other fine jewellery, with Lord Krishna and Radha on the throne, the Rolls Royce, after crossing the historic Howrah Bridge, rolls through the narrow lanes and by lanes of Burra Bazar. People flock to the area with a fist full of gulal and throw it to God. People rejoice in the festival of colours by smearing gulals among themselves and throwing them in the air.
The atmosphere gets festive with the sound of drums and chants. The light all through becomes colourful and the black tarmac of the road becomes a colourful pathway. Everyone from young to old, men and women try to get a glimpse of the deity and collect the holy colours thrown from the chariot. Offerings of prasad are distributed from the chariot. Volunteers try to control the crowd to keep people away from the car. They really have a trying time for the same.
Although started by the Bagla’s the Rolls Royce Chariot of Gods has become a traditional part of Kolkata.