McDonnel Monument, Calcutta (Kolkata)
Forgotten Drinking Fountain
“Only dismantling the fountain completely could have done more to hide it from view”
Desmond Doig, An Artist’s Impression
Located opposite the Calcutta (Kolkata) High Court and inside the complex of West Bengal Legislative Assembly is a spectacular drinking fountain. This small but elegant structure is actual a memorial dedicated to William Fraser McDonnell.
Toong On Church, Calcutta (Kolkata)
Rebirth of a Chinese Temple
Also see: My blog post on Calcutta (Kolkata) Chinatown
March 2008: A beautiful two storied brick red building stood in the shadows of the multi storied office of Kolkata Telephones. The entrance was not easily approachable and the door perennially locked. Above the door in beautiful Chinese calligraphy was written Toong On Church. The building once housed the Toong On Church at the first floor and the Nanking Restaurant on the ground floor. A decade long court case have kept the building under lock and key and the Toong On caligraphy was all that remained of the buildings glorious history.
Feb 10, 2011: I was out to explore the Chinese Temples of Tiretta Bazar, with fellow photographer Amitabha Gupta. We made our way past the garbage dump to the entrance of the beautiful two storied red coloured building only to find the Chinese calligraphy being replaced by a temporary banner of Nanking Restaurant.
Oct 13, 2012: It was the Calcutta edition of the Scott Kelby Photowalk 2012. I took a detour past the garbage dump and made my way to the entrance of the Nanking Restaurant. To my utter surprise I found the Nanking Restaurant banner replaced by the Toong On Church banner. Strangely the door was open and I made my way up to the first floor, straight in front was the alter housing the strange idol of the warrior God Kwan Ti. Sadly apart from the alter the room was totally empty and lacked the ambiance and glamor of the surrounding Chinese Temples.
Jan 20, 2013: It was the Footsteps Photowalk and again I made my way to the entrance of the Nanking Resturant and Toong On Church only to find that the temporary banner of Toong On Church have been replaced by a permanent beautiful bright red Chinese calligraphy.
World War I Memorials, Calcutta (Kolkata)
A Compilation of WWI Memorials in Calcutta (Kolkata)
From fallen soldiers to innocent victims of mass genocide, Calcutta (Kolkata) houses several memorials in memory of the martyrs of the Great War of 1914 – 18 (World War I). From well known towering memorials of British soldiers to hidden memorials dedicated to unknown regiments. Calcutta (Kolkata) WWI Memorials not only covers a wide range of history but also a diversified architectural style.
Burial of Christ ~ Armenian Good Friday
St. Gregory, the Illuminator, Armenian Chapel, Calcutta (Kolkata)
Also see my blog post on Armenians of Calcutta (Kolkata)
The coffin bearers slowly carried the black coffin, beautifully stacked with flowers outside the small chapel adjoining to the Lower Circular Road Cemetery in Calcutta (Kolkata). Strangely it was not a funeral and nor the black coffin contained any dead body !!!!
It was the Good Friday service of the Armenian Christian community at the St. Gregory, the Illuminator Armenian Chapel at Park Circus.
Portuguese Church (1799)
~ Catholics Cathedral of Calcutta (Kolkata) ~
Also see my compilation of Calcutta (Kolkata) Churches
Historical evidences indicate that the Portuguese arrived in Calcutta (Kolkata) much before Job Charnok, but their relationship with the English has never been friendly.
The first Portuguese place of worship in Calcutta (Kolkata) date backs to the late 17 th century, consisted of a mud hut. In 1700 it was converted into a brick structure.
In 1757 Lord Clive expelled the Portuguese from Calcutta (Kolkata) and the Catholic Portuguese Chapel was converted into an Anglican Protestant Chapel.
Four years later the ban was lifted and the Portuguese got back their chapel in 1796. They decided to convert the chapel into a Church and funds were raised. The well known Portuguese traders Baretto Brothers were leading contributors.
The new church, which exsists to this day, was opened to public on 27 Nov. 1799. Designed by James Driver it was constructed at a cost of Rs90,000.
Transfiguration of the Saviour Church
Greek Orthodox Church of Calcutta (Kolkata)
Also see my compilation of Calcutta (Kolkata) Churches
The Transfiguration of Saviour Church, belonging to the Greek Orthodox Church is located next to the Kalighat Tram Depot.
The Greek Orthodox Church, looks more like a Greek Temple than a church, with its four Doric columns in the portico supporting the giant triangular pediment. The smart whitewashed facade the Greek Orthodox Greek church stands out amidst the chaos of Kalighat.
Lascar War Memorial
~ Napier Road, Calcutta (Kolkata) ~
“He had thought that the Lascars were a tribe or nation….. he discovered now that they came from places that were far apart, and had nothing in common, except the Indian Ocean; among them were Chinese and East Africans, Arabs and Malays, Bengalis and Goans, Tamils and Arakanese.”
Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh
Sandwiched between the two buildings of the Navy House in Napier Road in Hasting region of Calcutta (Kolkata) stands a towering structure built in the honor of 896 Lascars, who died fighting for the British Navy during the Great War of 1914 – 18 (First World War).
The 100 ft memorial built in the Indo-Mughal style has prows of an ancient galley projecting from each side and is capped by four mini minarets and a large dome. Along the facade are undulating lines symbolizing waves.
North Park Street Cemetery, Calcutta (Kolkata)
~ The Lone Surviving Tomb ~
Tucked away in the South – Eastern corner of the the Assembly of God Church Tower (AG Tower) complex is a strange circular structure. Supported by six Ionic pillar and crowned with a dome. It is often used for drying clothes and even as a storage space.
The structure known as the Roberson Monument is the lone surviving grave of the demolished North Park Street Cemetery.
The Mallick Bazar entrance of the Mother Teresa Sarani (formally Park Street and even formally Burial Ground Street) once housed cemeteries on its both side.
Today the cemetery only on the southern side exists and is called the South Park Street Cemetery, but the cemeteries on the north side have been demolished decades ago to give room to the expanding city.
The North Park Street Cemetery gave room to the AG Towers while the Apeejay School was built over the French Cemetery.
Opened in 1797 the huge North Park Street Cemetery once housed the graves of several well known British citizens of Calcutta, including Richmond Thackeray, the farther of novelist William Makepeace Thackeray.
Calcutta (Kolkata) Churches
~ Compilation of Churches of Calcutta (Kolkata) ~
Kolkata (formally Calcutta) is home to several churches catering to different sects and sub – sects of Christianity. Apart from the well known Protestant and Catholic sects Calcutta (Kolkata) also houses churches belonging to the Orthodox sect including Armenian, Syrian and Greek orthodox sub – sets.
Myanmar (Burma) Buddhist Temple, Kolkata (Calcutta)
A Piece of Myanmar (Burma) in the Heart of Kolkata (Calcutta)
As I climbed the dimly lit staircase of Kolkata’s (Calcutta’s) only Mayanmarese (Burmese) Buddhist Temple a few lines of Amitav Ghosh’s best selling novel The Glass Palace flashed in my mind.
“Rajkumar’s favorite haunt was a small Buddhist temple in the centre of the city…. They would make their way across town on a bus and get off at the stop for the Eden Hospital. They’d climb up the grimy marble stairs and when they reached the top, they would step into a hall that seemed to be a world away from its surroundings: full of light, perfumed with scent of fresh flowers…. “
Rajkumar, literally meaning prince, the principle character of Amitav Ghosh’s novel The Glass Palace was by no means a prince. In the first chapter of Glass Palace Amitav Ghosh descrbes Rajkumar as “His name meant prince, but he was anything but princely in appearance.”
As my memory wondered through the pages of The Glass Palace I made my way to the top floor of the building housing the small and beautiful shrine. Straight in front of me was the statue of Lord Buddha dressed in golden attire with is gleaming white face.