9 ‘Firsts’ In India You Didn’t Know About

9 ‘Firsts’ In India You Didn’t Know About
Do you know about India’s oldest bookstore in Chennai?, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Let’s go back in time…

Roop Sawhney
November 20 , 2019
08 Min Read

We bet you don’t know which India’s first museum is. Or the country’s first bookstore? Or in the recent past, its first mall. Well, we are here to tell you! Read all about these ‘firsts’ in the country and time travel!

The Indian Museum is the second largest museum in the country


First museum
Established in 1814 in Calcutta (now Kolkata), the Indian Museum is not just the oldest in India but is also the ninth-oldest museum in the world and the second-largest museum in the country. Boasting of over 35 galleries and exhibits in an even bigger variety of categories, the museum houses Indian and trans-Indian specimens, as well a rare collection of antiques, fossils, skeletons, mummies, and Mughal miniatures.

First hotel
Spence’s Hotel is not just considered to be the first hotel in India, but also the first hotel in Asia. Established by John Spence, the hotel was open to public use in 1830. Set up mainly due to reasons of trade and business which Calcutta (now Kolkata) was the centre of at the time, the original building was unfortunately demolished after the hotel moved to Wellesley Place.  

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Higginbothams, Chennai. Since 1844. Share your photographs of our store and tag us for a feature. 📷 @polaroidsouvenir . . . . . #higginbothams #indiasoldestbookstore #india #chennai #chennaidiaries #authorsigning #bookworm #book #bookstagram #booklife #books #booksarelife #reading #goodreads #authorsigning #author #reader #reader #whatimreading #booklover #igreads #instabooks #libri #readersofinstagram #igbooks #bookclub #potd

A post shared by Higginbothams Book Store (@higginbothamsbookstore) on Sep 2, 2019 at 5:33am PDT

First bookstore
Who knew that after arriving in India as a British stowaway, Abel Joshua Higginbotham would create a legacy of bookstores in southern India? After working as a librarian in India for a few years, Higginbotham established his own bookstore in 1844 at Mount Road in Madras (Chennai today). After 175 years of beckoning booklovers, Higginbotham’s bookstore has established over 20 branches in southern India. 

Read About Higginbothams, The Heritage Bookshop

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A post shared by Nawas Spartan 📷 (@nawas_) on Nov 19, 2019 at 11:48pm PST

First mall
Built in 1865 and housing India’s first departmental store called Spence & Co., today the space is called Spencer Plaza and houses India’s first and oldest mall in Mount Road in Chennai. The mall opened in 1985 and at that time, it was the biggest in South Asia! While today there are malls here, there and everything, the old-world charm of Spencer Plaza still draws customers searching for traditional handicrafts.

First cinema hall
Over a century ago, Jamshedji Framji Madan established the Elphinstone Picture Palace in Calcutta (Kolkata today), the first of its kind in India in 1907. The small theatre encapsulated all the glitz and glamour of the film industry and created magic with a single screen and a projector. Although the condition of the cinema worsened over the decades, it never lost its charm. The cinema hall was eventually named Minerva Cinema and later re-christened Chaplin Cinema. Unfortunately the building was demolished by the Calcutta Municipal Corporation 2013 after being non-functional for several years.

First international flight
71 years ago, India made its first international flight journey in Air India’s ‘Malabar Princess’, from Mumbai to London. On June 8, 1948, the aircraft made a historic 24-hour journey across 5,000 miles. An international flight from Mumbai to London will take about 9-odd hours today. The aircraft which was a 40-seater Lockheed L-749 Constellation and piloted by Captain KR Guzdar, had to make two stops at Cairo and Geneva to refuel en route.

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#21 #TVAllyFacts Did you know #India hosted its first ever #MusicFestival in the year 1971. The festival was called as #SnehaYatra which was held at Malavli in Maharashtra for three days. As many as 4000 people attended the festival. This festival featured #RockBands, #ClassicalMusicians like #AmjadAliKhan and others. The idea was inspired from #Woodstock a famous music festival in the US. This was seen as a welcome change by the people who were obsessed with #BollywoodMusic. #IndieInIndia #IndieOnTVAlly #ThrowbackThursday

A post shared by TVAlly.in (@tvally) on May 30, 2018 at 11:07pm PDT

First music festival
The Indian music festival scene has evolved over the past five decades but the country’s first-ever music festival was held in 1971. Called Sneha Yatra, it was held in the small town of Malavli in Maharashtra. It was milestone and set the stage for all music festivals to be held after. The festival featured rock bands, poetry discussions and other acts and was largely inspired by the rising music counter culture that was in existence around the globe.

Palace on wheels is now one of the many luxury trains that exist in India

First luxury train
Launched on January 26, 1982, Palace on Wheels was the first luxury train in the country and has since developed into an absolute dream for travellers who love a luxurious rail journey. Complete with spas, restaurants and bars, the Palace on Wheels promises to take you on fairy tale journey.  Starting from the capital of the country, the train takes its passengers on a cultural trip around parts of Rajasthan and Agra. The prices might be steep, but they are so, with good reason.

First amusement park
The Appu Ghar was the first-ever amusement park in India. Named after the Asian Games mascot, the Appu Ghar was established in 1984 in Delhi and spread its roots to different branches all across the country. Although the rides might have been a little dated, it would’ve taken you on a nostalgic rollercoaster nonetheless. The original Appu Ghar unfortunately shut in 2008. 

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