P Thankappan Nair, The ‘Barefoot Historian’ Of Kolkata, Dies At 91 In Kochi, Kerala

He wrote more than 60 books on the city.

by Tooba Shaikh
P Thankappan Nair, The ‘Barefoot Historian’ Of Kolkata, Dies At 91 In Kochi, Kerala

P Thankappan Nair, the much-loved historian of Kolkata sadly passed away today. The historian fell in love with the ‘City of Joy’ in the 1950s when he first arrived there in search of work. Over the next decades, his passion for Kolkata motivated him to document, at length, the minutiae of the city. And so, the city, too, ended up falling in love with its historian. His passing was, no doubt, mourned by the city.

P Thankappan Nair, The ‘Barefoot Historian’, Dies In Kochi

According to an article which was recently published by The Indian Express or IE, Nair moved to Kolkata in the 1950s in search of a job. When he failed to find one in Manjapra, a village in Ernakulam, Kerala, where he was born, he undertook the lengthy journey from Kerala to Kolkata,

He was at the tender age of 22 at the time and found work as a typist in a private firm. He, however, quickly lost interest in his work and gained a profound interest in the city. He was impressed by its colonial, intellectual and cultural history.

He wrote more than 60 books on the city. They ranged from the police and the streets of the city to its history and more. He traversed through the city on foot, delighting in all that he encountered and immortalising them in his works. This earned him the nickname, ‘barefoot historian.’

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More About His Body Of Work And The Impact It Had

Though he worked in other cities like Guwahati in Assam and Mumbai in Maharashtra, he quickly made his way back to the city of joy in 1976. He lived there in the Kansaripara Road area for the majority of his remaining life.

That was until 2018 when he gave in to familial requests and moved to Kochi in Kerala. Though he left the city, the city never left him. His work showcases an unparalleled level of depth and detail which will preserve Kolkata as it was for posterity.

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Are you an admirer of this ‘Barefoot Historian’? Let us know in the comments section below!

Cover Image Credits: @SMitra_/X (Formerly, Twitter)

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