Home > Calcutta (Kolkata), Calcutta Heritage, General > Carmelite Convent, Outrum Street

Carmelite Convent, Outrum Street

Carmelite Convent

Outram Street

For the last 80 years the colonial styled bungalow at 4, Outram Street have served as the residence of the Carmelite Nuns, who barely step out to show themselves to the world.

Carmelite Convent , $ Outrum Street, Kolkata (Calcutta)

Carmelite Convent , 4 Outram Street, Kolkata (Calcutta)

Its hard to believe that the colonial styled 200 years old bungalow, which once belonged to a Muslim raja, houses a nunnery.

Winged Angel, Carmelite Convent, Kolkata

Winged Angel, Carmelite Convent, Kolkata

Strangely the structure has remained the same for the last 200 years except for the grotto and the statue of a winged angle in the compound, which were added very recently.

The Order of the Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel or Carmelites or Carmel is a Roman Catholic order probably founded in 12th century on Mount Carmel, in present day Israel.

The history of the Carmelite Convent on Outram Street, near Park Street, dates back 1929, when the Archbishop of Calcutta, Monsignor Perier, invited the Carmel Sisters, from Belgium, to set up a Carmelite Convent in Calcutta.

Grotto at the entrance of Carmelite Convent, Kolkata

Grotto at the entrance of Carmelite Convent, Kolkata

Four Carmelite sisters – Theresa Marie, Elizabeth, Anne Marie and Jeanne de la Corix sailed on board the ship Victoria and finally arrived in Calcutta on Nov 12, 1935.

They settled in the Archbishop’s House, next to St. Xavier’s College, in Park Street and started searching for a suitable building to start their operations.

Soon it was learnt that a Muslim raja’s house in the nearby Outrum Street was for sale.

Although the colonial styled house, with big rooms, were not meant for a monastery but the nuns agreed to settle there probably because of the proximity of Archbishop’s house and the St. Xavier’s School and College.

Logo of Carmelite Order, Carmelite Convent, Kolkata

Logo of Carmelite Order, Carmelite Convent

Relief of Jesus Christ, Carmelite Convent, Kolkata

Relief of Jesus Christ, Carmelite Convent, Kolkata

The Carmelite Convent started in 1935 and for the last 80 years the nuns have lived inside the high walled complex.

They have rarely come out to show themselves to the outside world.

Today the Carmelite Convent is a oasis of peace on the Outram Street in the Park Street area.

Only a small portion of the convent is open to public. A statue of a winged angle greats visitors at the entrance. One can walk past the small grotto, lit up with coloured candles and into the small chapel.

Carmelite Convent Chapel. Outram Stret, Kolkata

Carmelite Convent Chapel. Outram Street, Kolkata

The chapel is small but elegant and sunlight filter through the coloured glasses of the skylight creaing a mystic environment.

The two confession windows under the portico are the only means of communication with the nuns, although they will remain behind the veil, their voices could be heard.

Once the thriving Carmel Convent housed 24 sister but today the number is below ten, but it still remains am oasis and is open to people of all faiths and religion.

  1. April 24, 2015 at 1:41 PM

    Very beautiful, sir!

  2. April 24, 2015 at 2:54 PM

    It’s good to see that they allow photography inside which I was denied at St Pauls’ Cathedral. Loved the photos.

    • July 9, 2015 at 10:41 PM

      Moon Carmelite Convent does alloy photography sadly St. Paul’s don’t. You can try out the St. John’s Church in Kolkata, they allow photography.

      • July 11, 2015 at 2:18 PM

        Thank you for the information.

  3. April 24, 2015 at 9:33 PM

    Grand interiors. Thanks for showing.

  4. April 25, 2015 at 2:50 AM

    Nice interior…. 🙂 great clicks…

    • July 9, 2015 at 10:42 PM

      The interior of Carmelite convent is great and so is the ambiance.

  5. Max Galstaun
    July 17, 2016 at 11:52 AM

    Your photography is good, your research is not good.
    The Carmelite sisters rarely come out to show themselves ?
    Correction : Once the sisters enter they cut themselves off from the world. They are never seen again. Their close relatives may visit them but cannot see them. And so on….

    • July 17, 2016 at 1:40 PM

      Thanks Max for sharing the info. Yes, I was not aware of this restriction and apologies for putting the wrong info. Always feels great to have an esteemed and knowledgeable reader like you.

  6. Francis Mendez
    August 2, 2016 at 7:39 AM

    Rangan, I used to visit Carmelite Chapel to pray, when I was boy in Calcutta. Today I live in NYC but thanks to you, I can still visit in the spirit.
    You are indeed a wise soul, when you show your willingness to learn something new. The Carmelite sisters are a cloistered order, meaning, as a congregation of religious sisters they have devoted their lives to God through prayer while they exist away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Their only desire is to find God and devote their lives to Him.

    • August 2, 2016 at 1:29 PM

      Thank you Mr Mendez for sharing your experience at the Carmelite Chapel. Comment like these are a huge source of inspiration.

  7. Mary Guckian
    December 21, 2016 at 2:19 PM

    I would like to visit Sr. Therese Marie from Ireland. Michael Brown asked me to meet you. I am in Kolkata as a volunteer with HOPE Foundation and I leave Monday for Bangalore. Love and Blessings,
    Mary Guckian

    • November 13, 2017 at 8:34 PM

      Dear Mary. sorry for the late reply of your comment. I don’t know Michael Brown, I think there is some miss communication.

  8. Patricia Barlow Clark
    June 22, 2017 at 11:05 AM

    Thank you Rangan, what an interesting blog on Carmelite Chapel. I grew up in Kolkata, and visited the Chapel often, however, I had no idea of its history until today. Thank you once again, the photography is beautiful. Patricia Barlow.

  9. June 25, 2017 at 7:41 PM

    Nice one Rangan. Spent many a quiet moment in this little oasis of tranquility on Outram Road. But never realised that it was once a Muslim Rajah’s home! That token occurrence of a Christian acquisition of an Islamic dwelling in 1935, seems to be in slow reverse in today’s socioreligious climate – churches are being converted to mosques. Guess it’s another facet of the numbers game.

    With regard to your commendable bit of photo-journalism of the Carmelite Convent and other travelogues featured on your website, as a fellow-photographer I have to remark that you have certainly supplemented the narratives with some choice images. Well done! There are some pretty good travel photographers out there which could inspire you to go further. Here’s one of note: http://www.galenfrysinger.com/.


    • November 13, 2017 at 8:52 PM

      Dear Rae, went through your website, amazing!!! Really jealous of the amount of travel you have done.

      Regarding the Muslim Rajah’s home being converted into a convent. I think it was only a residence but not a place of worship, so it probably doesn’t count in the today’s socioreligious number game.

  10. August 27, 2017 at 1:44 AM

    You took me on a nostalgic lane Ranjan . Thats the place I used to frequent as a little boy with my parents , whenever we used to make a trip to Outram Road , Theatre Road or the neighbouring areas. I distinctly remember my mother offering a prayer petition to the cloistered nuns on one occassion . My dad got laid off and was having trouble finding another job for many months . Yes those were the turbulent ’80s in Calcutta , as leading corporates were closing shop driven by labor unrest and making an exodus to other states) . The sisters interceeded for our prayers , and a week later my dad got another job . The answered prayers have built my faith, strengthened my walk with God, I’ll remain ever grateful to the sisters , who have devoted their lives praying for others . I later moved to Bangalore and am now in Washgton DC for the last 6 years, but will never forget this convent . Thanks so much for rekindling my memories !!

    • November 13, 2017 at 8:58 PM

      Dear Sunny a big thanks for sharing your personal experience with the Carmalite convent.

      Next time if you are in Calcutta do drop me a mail at rangan@rangan-datta.info we can together visit the convent and know more about your experience.

    November 1, 2017 at 11:33 PM

    It was very inspiring to read about the Carmelite cloisters in Calcutta and their heritage convent. Especially in these worldly times when these sisters live such dedicated lives detatched from the world it certainly requires great dedication , discipline and most of all great faith in God. We hope their prayers will be heard and may some more be inspired to continue the selfless work they have started.

    • November 13, 2017 at 8:59 PM

      Its true Anthony the Sisters at Carmalite Convent do have a very disciplined and dedicated life.

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