Ho Chi Minh memorial adds glory to his Kolkata host

Almost 70 years later, a plaque has been installed at the hotel to commemorate the leader’s stay here for two days and a night.

Updated - March 29, 2016 06:08 pm IST

Published - August 30, 2015 03:35 am IST - Kolkata:

On his way to Paris in June, 1946, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnamese leader and a cult figure in Communist circles, stopped at Kolkata and stayed at the Great Eastern Hotel, one of the oldest hotels in the country.

Almost 70 years later, a plaque has been installed at the hotel to commemorate the leader’s stay here for two days and a night.

“Through the memorial plaque put up at the hotel, people will remember that Ho Chi Minh stayed here… Kolkata was the first place where he stopped over during his visit to France in 1946 and he stayed one night at Great Eastern Hotel,” said Bhutan Ton Sinh Thanh, Ambassador of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to India, Nepal and Bhutan.

The plaque has been installed at the hotel’s heritage block — the Edwardian Block, said Dilip Mishra, resident manager of the hotel, now called The Lalit Great Eastern Kolkata.

Mr. Mishra said it was during a heritage walk at the hotel six months ago that the Vietnam Ambassador was told about Ho Chi Minh’s stay here. The hotel was described in its heyday as the “Jewel of the East’ by Mark Twain, who was among the guests hosted by the 175- year-old institution. It has also hosted many world leaders, including Queen Elizabeth II and Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev.

This year will also see the setting up of a ‘Vietnam Corner’ in the National Library here. Speaking of the link between Kolkata and his country, the Ambassador said that during the war in the 1960s, Vietnam was a household name in the city. “The Vietnam corner is the first such corner to be set up by a foreign country in the National Library,” Arun Kumar Chakraborty, director of the oldest public library in India said. The corner will come up in a 50 sq.m. area at the administrative building of the National Library and will house books and digital materials on Vietnam.

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