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HERITAGE GHATS OF CALCUTTA – Babu Ghat

Babu Ghat Kolkata Present Day

Babu Ghat (Baje Kadamtala Ghat) is one of the many Ghats built during the British Raj, along the bank of River Hooghly on Strand Road at Kolkata side. In Colonel Mark Wood’s Map of 1784, Babu Ghat was the Southern boundary of Dihi (village) Calcutta. Dihi Govindpore started from that point and extended as far as the Adi Ganga, known as the Tolly Nullah. The Ghat was built in 1830 by Rani Rashmoni, the then Zaminder of Jan Bazar, in memory of her husband Late Babu Raj Chandra Das. However, it was also popularly known as “Rani Rashmoni Ghat”. Babu Ghat is the second oldest Ghat of Kolkata.

Rani Rashmoni
Rani Rashmoni

There is a plaque above the main entrance of the Ghat, which states that the Ghat, constructed in 1830 at the expense of ‘Babu Rajchunder Doss’, shall be known hereinafter  by his name.

However, there is another marble tablet beneath the pediment which indicates that some of the credit for the erection of the Ghat must go to Lord William Bentinck as he encouraged such spending with a view to improve public amenities.

Babu Ghat Plaque
Babu Ghat Plaque

Rashmoni, a naive and beautiful girl, was married to Babu Raj Chandra Das when she was only 11 years old. But she was intelligent enough to gather sufficient practical  experience and with time and came to be popularly known as Rani Rashmoni. She became famous for her incredible wealth, her great contribution to charitable causes and her famous courage to confront the British authorities and fight for the cause of the commoners. She is most remembered for building the Kali Temple at Dakshineswar.

Babu Ghat with the steam engine
Babu Ghat with the steam engine
Babu Ghat Old Picture
Babu Ghat Old Picture

Babu Ghat has a tall colonial structure, which leads to the flight of stairs down the water body. It is a fine Doric-Greek style pavilion with huge pillars. In the earlier days there was a Steam Engine installed near the right corner of the Ghat, which used to pump water from the river to clean the city streets. That system no longer exists today. Sadly enough, today there is no room for the bathers to change before and after taking the dip or to take a short rest in the pavilion. The place is completely dogged by the pandas, while the unauthorised vendors have encroached the road in front the pavilion. The old colonial structure and stairs leading to the river are in various stages of deterioration and dilapidation. A section of the Ghat originally meant for bathing of ladies has turned to a garbage point. Yet, even today the Ghat is bustling with crowd from morning till late evening with people who use it for bathing, Pujas, religious ceremonies, massage and leisure. To complete the picture of chaos, there is a bus terminus just outside the Ghat.

Babu Ghat on the day of Mahalaya
Babu Ghat on the day of Mahalaya

Recently the façade of the building was repaired and given a fresh coat of paint. A stretch of about 2.4 km from Babu Ghat to Prinsep Ghat has been beautified by Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority and named it Millennium Park to the delight of the public.

Babu Ghat portion of the stretch
Babu Ghat portion of the stretch
Babu Ghat on the Steps
Babu Ghat on the Steps
Babu Ghat River front
Babu Ghat River front
Babu Ghat Bus Terminus
Babu Ghat Bus Terminus
Dibyendu Banerjee
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.

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