Baranagar was once a major trading hub for the Dutch and it is these ghats that Siraj ud-Daulah’s barges, British ships and Ramprasad Sen’s boat hit.
Kolkata: On the banks of the Hooghly river lies Baranagar, a place that carefully nestles in its labyrinth of lanes and bylanes history, memories and tradition of over 300 years. And most of the stories of the yesteryears are silently told by the ghats that dot the area.
Baranagar was once a major trading hub for the Dutch and it is these ghats that Siraj ud-Daulah’s barges, British ships and Ramprasad Sen’s boat hit. It is in one of these ghats where an idol of Devi Chitteshwari is slightly turned towards the river, as if she is listening to Sen’s songs. Here’s a few of the ghats of Baranagar that are witness to some of the major events in history but their importance forgotten by an equal amount of apathy.
Ratan Babur Ghat
This ghat is named after Ram Ratan Roy, the zamindar of the Narail kuthibari. The architectural style of the ghat is very attractive. The ghat on one side houses a crematorium. It is this crematorium where the last rites of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Swami Abhedananda, Khagendranath Chattopadhyay, Mahendra Gupta and others were carried out. Ratan Babur Ghat had the first steamer jetty too. After a long period of closure, a few years back launch services have been restarted at the ghat.
Housed adjacent to the Pramanik Kali temple, this ghat got its name from the temple. It is this temple that Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa visited often and addressed the idol as his maashi (aunt). Narendranath Dutta or Swami Vivekananda used to come to this ghat to take a bath and so did the several sanyasis of the Baranagar Mutt while their stay at the mutt.
In the past, this ghat was used to perform sati and thus the name. It is here that the orthodox Hindu Brahmins beat drums and burnt the widows alive. The sounds of the instrument would be so loud that it would muffle the voice of the satis but bear the message of the societal evil even far away from the ghat. At present, a new ghat has been built on top of the old ghat.
Kutighat got its name from the Dutch kuthibaris. There were many kuthibaris around this ghat. The Kuthighat is the oldest ghat in Baranagar. Writer Saradindu Bandhopadhyay, Bimal Kar, Sanjeev Chattapadhyay and many other famous people often assembled at this ghat for hearty addas. Next to this ghat is a steamer jetty and the Victoria School which was built by the British. After the British captured Baranagar in 1759, they handed over the responsibility to the Dutch again in 1817. As a result, some of the Dutch offices, kuthibaris and warehouses were built around this ghat.
Jaynarayan Mitra Ghat
This ghat bears the testimony of the past and still stands in front of the Kali temple built by the famous businessman of Shobhabazar Jayanarayan Mitra. The Kali idol at this temple was also addressed as maashi (aunt) by Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa. In 1864, many ships from the Khidirpur Dock broke away from their anchors in a terrible cyclone and floated to various ghats along the Hooghly river causing a lot of damage. Jayanarayan Mitra ghat was also damaged by some of the ships. The impact was so terrible that even the nahabat khana was damaged.