Home > Bengal History, General, Weekend Tour from Kolkata (Calcutta) > Achipur Barood Ghar, A Gunpowder Magazine en route Kolkata Port

Achipur Barood Ghar, A Gunpowder Magazine en route Kolkata Port

Achipur Barood Ghar

A Gunpowder Magazine en route Kolkata Port

Today Achipur is a quiet little village on the banks of the Hooghly River near Budge Budge about 33 km south of Kolkata. The place has an interesting history and is named after Tong Achew, the first official Chinese settler in the country.

Bawali Farmhouse 38

Warehouses of Achipur Barood Ghar with a dead tree, Achipur, Budge Budge

According to historical records in the late 18th century a Chinese tea trader by the name of Tong Achew landed on the banks of Hooghly, somewhere near present day Budge – Budge, never to return again.

Bawali Farmhouse 30

A cow grazes beside the two warehouses of Achipur Barood Ghar

The then Governor General Warren Hasting granted land to Achew to set up a sugar cane plantation and sugar factory.  According to records to British East India Company “Achew was granted 650 bighas of land about 6 miles south of Budge – Budge for an annual rent of Rs 45.”

Bawali Farmhouse 33a

Largest Warehouse of Achipur Barood Ghar

After acquiring the land Achew set up a sugar – cane plantation along with a sugar mill. He brought in a band of Chinese workers to work in his plantation and factory and thus forming the first Chinese settlement in India.

Barood Ghar Map

Achipur Barood Ghar Google Map

But Achew died soon after and his sugar factory was abandoned. His workers left for the city of Calcutta, where their descendants still continue to live.

The place came to be known as Achipur after Tong Achew. Sadly today apart from a Chinese Temple and Achew’s horse – shoe – shaped grave Achipur has no Chinese connection.

Bawali Farmhouse 36

Guard House (walls are missing) Achipur Barood Ghar

But once every year, on the Sunday after Chinese New Year, the sleepy hamlet of Achipur comes alive with the beating of Chinese drums.

Possible every Chinese of Calcutta make a pilgrimage to Achipur to pay tribute to the man, who started the first Chinese settlement in India more than 230 years ago (Also see: Achipur, the first Chinese Settlement of India).

Although known as the the first official Chinese settlement of India, Achipur also shares an interesting history connected to the Kolkata Port. The Achipur Barood Ghar or Barood Khana, officially known as the Achipur Powder Magazine.

Ships navigating towards Kolkata from Bay of Bengal carrying gunpowder had to deposit their stock in these storehouses or Barood Ghar located beside River Hooghly. During British rule (and probably even after independence), ships were only allowed to carry 100 lbs of gunpowder with them for emergency calls and signalling. During their return journey, the ships would collect their deposits from this Barood Ghar.

Bawali Farmhouse 37

The third ware house, Achipur Barood Ghar

According to the Bengal District Gazetteers: 24-Parganas by Lewis Sydney Steward O’Malley says that “Several penalties were prescribed for the breach of these regulations, which were laid down on the ground that “the explosions of large quantities of gunpowder on board of ships lying of the town might be attended with the most destructive consequences to the town, to the inhabitants thereof and to the shipping in the port.”

Old Kolkata Port Trust records mention this as a Mayapur or Moyapur Magazine. Presently a property of Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) the remains of the Barood Ghar stills remains overlooking the Hoooghly River and reminds one of the flourishing days of the Kolkata Port.

Bawali Farmhouse 34

A door of one of the warehouse, Achipur Barood Ghar

Located on the banks of the river it is situated about a kilometer south of Achew’s Grave. Google Map mention it as the Birlapur River side Picnic Spot. Spread over a large area the Achipur Barood Ghar or Barood Khana is approached by a dirt trail descending from the high mud embankment.

In spite of years of neglect the structure are pretty intact. Just next to the embankment are two warehouses with vaulted ceilings.

The smaller one has two doors, one each on opposite sides. The larger one has six doors three each on opposite sides. Both these warehouses were once surrounded by walls with circular guard houses at four corners. Only traces of the walls remains but one guard house remains more or less intact.

Bawali Farmhouse 31

A two storied house in the Achipur Barood Ghar Complex

Across some open space is the third warehouse, with similar vaulted ceiling but apart from doors it has a few windows too. Next to the third ware house is two storied building. It probably served as the Achipur Powder Magazine office along with the residence of officer. Next to this is a small structure, which probably served as a residence of the caretaker.

The entire area with several dead trees and their leafless branches creates a striking contrast with the ruined structures of Achipur Barood Ghar, no wonder the place is a favourite for picnickers.

Note:

My trip to the Achipur Barood Ghar was part of a family trip to Bawali and Achipur

Special Thanks:

  • A special thanks to Shuvadip Paul Majumder, who first mention me about Achipur Barood Ghar through a comment in my Achipir blog post
  • A special thanks to Goutam Chakrabarti of Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) for providing valuable information

 

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  1. February 22, 2018 at 9:30 AM

    Efforts should be taken to restore and preserve these places. However, They lie neglected..

    • March 7, 2018 at 4:48 PM

      i will request everyone to lobby for this historical place to get a heritage tag.

      • March 24, 2018 at 6:40 PM

        I second your request Shuvadip Paul

    • March 7, 2018 at 4:50 PM

      i first visited the place in 2016 and found its walls being used for political graphitis…
      then i informed rangan da about the same

    • March 24, 2018 at 10:12 AM

      Thanks Balaka for the comment. The property belongs to the Kolkata Port Trust and they do have plans to convert it into a tourist spot.

      • March 24, 2018 at 6:39 PM

        Good to hear that.

      • Sankhadip Das
        March 26, 2018 at 10:39 AM

        It’s not a place of Achipur, Mayapur small village of Budge Budge, birlapur area

    • March 24, 2018 at 10:18 AM

      The credit of discovering the Achipur Barood Ghar goes to Shuvadip. Presently the Kolkata Port Trust is planning a cruise from Kolkata to Achipur covering the history of the Hooghly River. Achipur will definitely be a part of the tour.

      • March 24, 2018 at 6:40 PM

        That is a great news..hope it happen soon

    • June 4, 2018 at 2:40 PM

      Dear Shankhadip Das you are right the place is technically in Birlapur area but old maps refer it as Achipur or Moyapur, hence the name.

  2. February 22, 2018 at 8:49 PM

    Very interesting !

  3. February 24, 2018 at 11:39 AM

    This is really interesting. Thanks for sharing.

  4. February 28, 2018 at 4:50 PM

    really interesting and amazing blog post

  5. Anagha Yatin
    March 27, 2018 at 11:31 AM

    Amazing piece of history…wish Government could pay more attention to such historical buildings.

    • June 4, 2018 at 2:38 PM

      There are been some initiative by the government in the recent past. The Kolkata Port Trust is planning a cruise to Achipur from Kolkata.

  6. April 23, 2018 at 12:15 PM

    Really nice bog post.It’s amazing to think that there are so many places near my own home which I didnt know about!

    • June 4, 2018 at 3:00 PM

      Its very true, try exploring your neighborhood.

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