“I went there to take a dip, into the soul of Kolkata.”
The term ‘Ghat’ is mostly used in certain parts of South Asia to refer to a series of steps leading one down to a water body, which is usually a holy river. In the context of Bengal, the term ‘ghat’ translates into a set of stairs that can lead to something as small as a pond or as large as a river. The Ghats in Kolkata are of historical significance having found itself mentioned in several books, poems and manuscripts.
“Oh Calcutta, what would evening conversations be without your Ghats… So gently embedded within my very being”
The Ghats, of ferries, boats, lazy afternoons and romantic rendezvous have forever captured the fancy of aspiring poets and tourists with its warmth and ability to comfort.
“For I remember the Ghats, not as a decaying immersion body… But as a part of the changing cityscape, oh so constant
Ah, the Ghats reeking of colonial conspiracy!”
The meandering Hooghly River, a distributary of the mighty Ganges flowing freely through the veins of the city has facilitated the budding of recreational spots called Ghats, which also serve as centres of trade. Ghats like the Outram Ghat and Princep Ghat have a strong colonial connect; the Princep Ghat was built under the beautification drive undertaken by the British East India Company during the British rule. It has been built in the memory of the famous British scholar James Prinsep. On the other hand, Outram Ghat was dedicated to Sir James Outram who was a foot soldier in the army of the British East India Company.
“Oh Ghats, that stood the test of time, fuming of poverty and smelly fish.”
Considered a heritage tourist destination, the Ghats of Kolkata boast of various activities that bring it to life. One can often see, boatmen ferrying tourists and lovers across the span of the river, which also serves as an active fishing spot.
“Abandoned idols and boats, where am I at, but the abode of the river!”
Life on the Ghats is amusing and diverse. We can see a wide-ranging group of people, coming here and enjoying each other’s company in ways more than one. Incidentally, the Ghats also bring to life the idol-making process by supplying the clay for idol making in abundance, only to absorb it back into its body once the need is over. “There is a line of abandoned Gods, the old and new along the Ghats, as proper immersions are not allowed into the water bodies anymore. The big cranes scoop the bodies as soon as they are immersed; the Government rules state so,” commented Sashi, a local food seller.