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HERITAGE GHATS OF CALCUTTA – Ramchandra Goenka Zenana Ghat

Ramchandra Goenka Zenana Bathing Ghat 1890s

The Zenana Ghat was once one of the most beautiful bathing Ghats on River Hoogly, standing with its elegant domes next to Mullick Ghat, hidden behind the Armenian Ghat. It was presumably built in the late 1880’s or early 1890’s by Ramchandra Goenka, father of Sir Badrinath Goenka. A leading businessman Ramchandra earned a reputation for the philanthropic works he did all over India. He was one of the founders of the “Calcutta Pinjrapole”, the very first social organization of the Calcutta Marwaris, and established a Bidhowa Sahayak Samiti (widows’ helper association) in 1899. Apart from the widows, the organization also used to help orphan children below the age of fifteen.

Ramchandra Zenana Bathing Ghat - Old Picture
Ramchandra Goenka Zenana Bathing Ghat – Old Picture

The Zenana Ghat, which was once exclusively used by the women, and which still stands along the River Hooghly with its imposing structure, is now abandoned. Today, no bathers frequent the Ghat, as there is no clear approach from the Strand Road. It was a different scenario altogether, when long distance steamer rides were the trend of the day. A memorial plaque on the marble indicates about the unfortunate death of a number of pilgrims around the place on May 25, 1887 when a ship carrying hundreds of pilgrims ran into a catastrophic cyclone.

The Ghat with its typically beautiful dome and four minarets at the four corners looks exactly like a mosque. The marble floor and the walls of the building ornamented with coloured tiles added its grandeur. Unfortunately, now the place has become dirty and full of filth. Since it is abandoned, it has become the dwelling and a meeting place for the beggars, vagabonds, addicts and the anti-socials. Once the popular bathing Ghat for the ladies now stands like a bleak emptiness and houses a few homeless people.

Ramchandra Goenka Zenana Bathing Ghat - Before Renovation
Ramchandra Goenka Zenana Bathing Ghat – Before Renovation
Ramchandra Goenka Zenana Bathing Ghat - after renovation
Ramchandra Goenka Zenana Bathing Ghat – after renovation
Ramchandra Goenka Zenana Bathing Ghat - Present Days
Ramchandra Goenka Zenana Bathing Ghat – Present Days
Howrah Bridge from Ramchandra Goenka Zenana Bathing Ghat
Howrah Bridge from Ramchandra Goenka Zenana Bathing Ghat
Ramchandra Goenka Zenana Bathing Ghat from Howrah Bridge
Ramchandra Goenka Zenana Bathing Ghat from Howrah Bridge
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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