Though Old China Town is just half an hour away, it took me years to visit it. I don’t know why we see exotic far away lands, when the slice of same culture thrives in our own city. It has been thriving since early 18th Century. Thanks to Amitav Ghosh’s blog and Deepanjan Ghosh’s blog I had read about the unique cultural heritage. So it was a privilege to visit the place with Deepanjan as a guide along with earliest blogger of the Kolkata Heritage places Rangan Da. My gratitude to Sahapedia and The Cha Project for organising this walk.
Here is a glimpse through my lenses (clicked by not so trained hands):
In a gist – Tiretti Bazar is the first chinese settlement of the city. There are 6 Chinese temples called ‘churches’ (As categorised by Britishers) signifying 6 sub-communities living there. Back in Time, each sub community had a worshiping place attached with a club for socialising and a burial ground. Unfortunately not all burial grounds are traceable now. The six ‘churches’ do exist in fully glory and are functional, so are the clubs. The sub-communities are categorized as per their livelihood or vocation(just like Indian caste system). The early communities took up vocations like running laundry shops, tannery, sugar mills, shoe-making, densistry, beauty salons and of course chinese food restaurants.
- The walk started with Toong On Church right in the centre of Tiretti Bazar (see the images below). It is devoted to Chinese God of the War – Kwan Ti. Though it’s dwarfed by the Calcutta Telephone buildings and surrounded by city’s trash, it stands tall to assert the Chinese identity and historical link to the city of Kolkata. For more information click here
2. Next we walked through the Blackburn lane to another church – Choong Ye Thong Church
3. The next bit of walk further through the lane took us to Nam Soon Church and their community club. The church is highly ornate and well maintained while the club has antique furniture and wooden lockers. We saw one of the oldest Abacus still intact. The members of the community rued the fact that they have not been able to do restoration and repairs due to bureaucracy.
More about Old China Town in my next blog post…