When the black and white photos of the ‘London to Calcutta (Kolkata) bus service’ went viral on social media recently, the response of some of the netizens was “stop spreading fake news!” But, it isn’t a fake news. The late 1950s indeed offered people a lavish bus trip from London to Kolkata.
While one of the viral images shows passengers at the Victoria Coach Station, London, boarding 'Albert', the other image show the same bus travelling through a valley. In another image the bus is stationed at a tourist spot. All these photos were captured during the bus’ maiden international journey in 1957.
An image of the bus ticket is also making rounds on social media, that shows the route of the bus — London, Belgium, West Germany, Austria,Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, West Pakistan, India. The route in India followed Delhi, Agra, Allahabad, Banaras and finally Calcutta.
The ticket shows that a one side travel cost 145 pounds (13,644 Rupees at the present day) back then, and it was inclusive of all the luxury provided during the run.
The luxurious bus provided the facilities of reading, individual sleeping bunks, radio/taped music for parties and pleasure and fan heaters, among other things. The brochure reads, "Your complete home while you travel."
Some of the tour highlights included Banaras on the Ganges, The Taj Mahal, The Raj Path, The Rhine Valley and The Peacock Throne. Passengers reportedly got free shopping days in New Delhi, Tehran, Salzburg, Kabul, Istanbul and Vienna.