Armenian Ghat, Calcutta, 1734

BathingGha-t-fromFrederickPelitiWebsite

আর্মানি ঘাট, কলকাতা, ১৭৩৪

Armenian Ghat was built in 1734 by Manvel Hazaar Maliyan, a celebrated Calcutta trader of Armenian origin. This elegant ferry ghat was just one of the many contributions made by the benevolent Armenian toward developing Calcutta’s infrastructure and sociocultural rapport. Hazaar Maliyan, better known in Calcutta society as Huzoorimal – an westernized version of the conventional form of his Armenian name. Armenians were involved in spice to jewelry trade, and this river pier was built specifically to tackle the docking of the merchants of the town.

The Armenian Ghat, locally called Armani ghat, stood on the Hooghly river bank with its gracefully designed cast iron structure. The Ghat was situated on river edge besides the Mallick Bazaar flower market adjacent to the old Howrah Bridge. As in other ghats on the holy river, people used to come here also to take bath, and devotees to worship.

EIR[booingCounter-Armanighat

A cropped image from a panoramic photograph of river ghats, by Bourne and Shepherd, c.1880’s. See

It also facilitated running of some well-liked public transport services conducted by the EIR company. From 15th August 1854, the company(EIR) ran a regular service, morning an evening, between Howrah and Hugli with stops at Bali, Serampore and Chandernagar. The fare ranged from Rs.3 by first class to 7 annas by third class. The main booking office was at Armenian Ghat, and the fare covered the ferry to the station on the opposite bank. Besids the passanger ferry services, The Cachar Sunderbund dispatch steamers are berthed at Armenian Ghat, while the Assam Sunderbund vessels work from Jagarnath Ghat.

During 1854 – 1874, the Eastern Railways had their Calcutta Station, and Ticket Reservation Room in Armenian Ghat. From this counter the passengers had to buy train tickets and then cross the Ganges on Railway owned steamers/ launches to board their train from platform at Howrah.  This arrangement continued until the construction of Howrah Pantoon Bridge was complete in 1874.

Cropped view of ‘Old Court House Street, Calcutta’, by Bourne and Shepherd, c.1880’s. See full view

Armenian Ghat turned into a demanding spot for the Calcutta commuters, and it helped them when the Tramway Company introduced in February 1873 their trial service to run a 2.4-mile (3.9 km) horse-drawn tramway service between Sealdah and Armenian Ghat Street on trial. After a short break the Company, registered as Calcutta Tramway Co. Ltd, laid anew Metre-gauge horse-drawn tram tracks from Sealdah to Armenian Ghat via Bowbazar Street, Dalhousie Square and Strand Road. The service discontinued in 1902.

The Armenian Ghat, one of the prime heritage sites of the city is now lost to oblivion and the eyeful marina is replaced by an unimaginable open-air gym.

The Photograph of the Armenian Ghat featured at the top was taken by Chevalier Federico Peliti, the famous Italian hotelier and restaurateur of Calcutta who happened to be an excellent amateur photographer. Date unknown.

Advertisements

5 comments on “Armenian Ghat, Calcutta, 1734

  1. Martyn Brown says:

    Thank you for your web pages. I find them most informative. Should you find time I would like to know if you know, the place of the Opium Markets in Burra bazar and a map of old Fort William in relation to today’s Kolkata. I downloaded the book, ‘Old Fort William In Bengal’, but cannot see the plates it mentions, which might be useful in this regard.
    I believe there might have been two opium auction houses close to Cotton Street and have asked people but they have no idea.

    Like

    • Thanks Martyn for your kind words. Here are few things that I gathered for you.
      “At the heyday of the opium trade in China, the two largest firms were British: Magniac and Co., later reformed as Jardine, Matheson & Co. Ltd. in 1832, and Dent & Co founded in 1824. A distant third was the American Russell & Co. founded in 1818.” [ http://www.jonathanlewy.com/american_opium_trade/#_%5D I don’t think any of them had base in Calcutta. Among the most probable auctioneers for your purpose might be:
      Calcutta Auction Company – British Auction House near the Strand.
      On its site the Currency Office was built ( See Bourne and Shepherd Photograph)
      Tulloh & Company
      The site where the present CTO is located was occupied by a pond in 1757. It was filled up and the plot was occupied the auction firm.
      Ballad & Sons Auctioneers (estb 1806)
      No detail found
      Mackenzie Lyall & Co.
      The earliest known auction house at the then Mission Road, was pretty well known for its opium auctions. The house that Wellesley had taken for the Fort William College on lease was subsequently occupied by Messrs. Mackenzie Lyall & Co., and became well known as The Exchange. Still later, it housed the offices of Bengal Nagpur Railway (See my puronokolkata posting on Fort William College,)
      This seems to be nearest to Cotton Street and seemingly your hunt.

      As to the Old Fort William map, you should find them in the other digital version of the book ,Old Fort William In Bengal Vol II (Indian Records Series) at
      https://archive.org/stream/indianrecordsser015096mbp#page/n337/mode/2up
      Will be very glad to know of your project when complete.
      Best wishes

      Like

      • Martyn Brown says:

        I am most grateful for your very detailed response to my questions on Fort William and the opium auction houses.
        I note on the maps that opium godowns occupied part of the site of the old fort at one time and The Salt and Opium Dept was located on Bankshall Street.
        While many references say the opium trade did not start until after 1757, one reference in Wikipedia suggests… British exports of opium to China grew from an estimated 15 long tons (15,000 kg) in 1730 to 75 long tons (76,000 kg) in 1773 shipped in over two thousand chests.(Salucci, Lapo (2007). Depths of Debt: Debt, Trade and Choices. University of Colorado)

        I do not intend to write on the subject. I have, with my business partner, been running walks in Kolkata for nearly 20 years, mainly for foreign visitors. The truth is that most visitors are not much interested in historical details preferring the here and now; however I am.
        Some quite like stories of the past but a walk in todays Kolkata is not really conducive to story telling. Dates and facts are of little interest to most. Explaining what they are seeing and absorbing the atmosphere is enough to deal with for the majority.

        Thanks again, much appreciated, Martyn

        Like

  2. Prof Sukumar Maiti, Medical College, Kolkata, Dept of Surgery. says:

    You are great. I like to hear from you about kolkata and so many things when you deliver any presentation /Lecture anywhere in Kolkata

    Like

    • Thanks Professor Maiti.
      I prefer spending time on my desk at home. It would be a pleasure to have you here for a chat. Please don’t be upset seeing a humble passion worker instead of a pundit.
      You may call me on my cell phone # 9831240820. Warm wishes

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s