Ghost Walk of Esplanade and Dalhousie Square, Calcutta (Kolkata)
Esplanade and Dalhousie Square, Calcutta (Kolkata)
It was the sound of piano, isolated notes and then a complete string of music, then the loud dong of the St, John’s Church bell announcing 1:45 am, this was all part of the Ghost walk of Esplanade and Dalhousie area in Calcuta.
The idea of a ghost walk of Calcutta was conceived by my friend Anthony Khatchaturian, a Calcutta Armenian of the famous Galstaun lineage, along with Dr. Souvik Mukherjee of Presidency University. The route was soon chalked out and the Anthony did all the running and arranged for permissions and police escorts.
The D day (3 Oct 2015) finally arrived the participants meet at the main gate of Calcutta’s not so old New Market, half an hour before the mid night.
Registration was soon complete and participants hit the road in search of the illusive ghosts of the city.
We took the narrow lane next to the clock tower of New Market and headed northwards.
All though the market was shut but the passage was well illuminated and it was the last possible place to spot a ghost.
But New Market does have its share of ghost, with Stuart Hogg himself walking down the corridors. It also the home of two Anglo Indian lady ghosts, who walk through pelple strolling late in the night.
We moved further north and Statesman House was the next stop, where Souvik narrated the story of the ghost in the photo archive room.
The atmosphere was far from spooky as the roads were well lit. With a van load of cops from the Kolkata Police accompanying us there was nothing to be afraid.
Quiet likely the topic of discussion soon changed from ghosts to architecture and history of the surrounding buildings.
From the North Gate of Raj Bhavan, we made our way past the Red Cross Place and then to the Council House Street and past the St. John’s Church and finally made it to the Kolkata High Court.
Standing in front of the High Court Souvik narrated the story of a judge who spotted his wife, while working late into the night. But his wife was supposed to be in England at that time. Later a telegram reveled that the Judge’s wife died at that very time of her appearance.
Years, decades and even centuries have past but the lady keeps on reappearing. Sadly a crowd of 30 + ghost enthusiast accompanied by a van load of cops probably drove her away.
Next we headed for the Grastin Place with a brief stop at Hasting’s Residence on the Kiran Shankar Road.
Although there are no ghost associated with this residence of Warren Hastings, but his house in Alipore is often considered as the spookiest place in Calcutta. Souvik narrated the ghost stories of Hasting’s House Alipore.
Next we headed for the Grastin Place, which once housed the old radio station, where a musician committed suicide. But his piano can still be heard, provided the moon and the imagination is right.
We assembled at the back of the St. John’s Church with the grave of Job Charncok and Frances Johnson, visible beyond the gate. I narrated the amazing story of Frances Johnsons long life and her four marriage. Souvik told the story of Charncock sacrificing a cock over her wifes grave and the story of Dr Hamilton, who is buried in the same tomb of Charnock.
The Grastin Place area was relatively dark, as the street lights were few. Souvik soon focused on the story of the musicians ghost, but suddenly there was some sound, notes from pianos!!! was someone playing prank with the mobile.
The sound stopped but only to return after a few seconds but this time it was clear notes from pianos and soon a full string of music was played. It seemed to come from a far of place and the brave guys went out with torches to find the source.
There search was cut short by a loud sound which send shivers down the spine of all the ghost hunters!!! but this was no ghost but the clock of St. John’s Church announcing 1:45 am!! Sadly the sound of piano could no longer be heard and the ghost enthusiast came up with their own theory of the piano sound.
We were soon on the main thoroughfare and walked passed the General Post Office (GPO) and Writers’ Building. Anthony narrated his latest finding on the Calcutta Black Hole and his plan of bringing in ground penetrating radars to scan the ground for dead bodies of Calcutta Black Hole. This will determine the number of dead and solve the controversy once and for all.
Sadly the ghost hunters were still absorbed about the sound of piano and finding a logical conclusion about the sound of the piano was more important than unlocking the secrets of Calcutta Black Hole.
Finally we made our way past the Mission Church and finally back to New Market at about 3:30 am, thus ending what could be probably be described as the first ever Ghost Walk of Calcutta.