The Armenian Ghat: A Few Thoughts On The Place

The Kolkata ghats have never ceased to fascinate me – whenever I have visited them I have marveled at the romance and mystery associated with them. One such ghat that has been oft frequented by me is the Armenian Ghat.

This is a ghat which has stood the test of time – with its glorious pillars and age old grandeur, the Armenian Ghat is a place that is reminiscent of Kolkata’s colonial past and diverse culture. It was built by Manvel Hazaar Maliyan, an Armenian by origin, to facilitate shipment of goods from foreign shores. Armenians dominated has spice in gem traders in ancient Kolkata and this ghat was built especially to facilitate docking of their ships in the city.

From 1854 to1874, the Calcutta Station and Ticket Reservation Room of Eastern Railways were in this Ghat. Currently, Armenian Ghat has been transformed into a huge store-house of the Kolkata Port Trust, yet till this date the ancient structures of this ghat reminds one of its age hold heritage.

For those who want to get the real picture of colonial Kolkata and savor in its heritage, visit to the Armenian Ghat is a must. I have always preferred a short tour during morning – just like any other typical Indian riverside morning, Armenian Ghat too in the early hours of the day becomes animated with traditional gymnasts and wrestlers busy with their daily body building session, people taking bath, devotees worshipping and people conducting various rituals of birth and death.

A little away from the ghat is the flower market. The sweet fragrance of flowers is bound to mesmerize you as you head towards it. In the flower market, you will get to see hundreds of shops selling roses, gladioli, hibiscus, lotuses and various other types of flowers – a diversity and beauty that is strangely symbolic of the colorful city of which it is a part.

The population of Armenians has been dwindling in the city – very few of the families are left. Nonetheless it cannot be denied that this community has always been an integral part of Kolkata’s diverse culture. A few years back, Kolkata saw hundreds of Armenians flowing from all across the globe to be a part of the 300th anniversary of the oldest church in Kolkata – the Holy Nazareth Church on the Armenian Street. The occasion also marked the celebration of 400 years of the Armenian community in Kolkata. Today, with its dwindling population the community is slowly fading to oblivion; however  architectural wonders – Armenian Ghat and the Holy Nazareth Church stand a testimony to the fact that once upon a time the Armenian community was an integral part of this city of joy!

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