The grand white structure is standing with all its élan and the mighty river flowing beside it. My journey for the day ends today here. I look at the river passing by taking with itself all the filth and dirt of the city, and so my heart is also cleansed of all the doubts and negativities. Princep Ghat or Prinsep Ghat always has this assuring effect on me. After monuments and graveyards, the third post in our Kolkata series is about this beautiful ghat in Kolkata.

Bengalis and Kolkatans are by nature romantic. They love to recite Tagore whenever got chance. According to us, Princep Ghat is one of the most romantic places in Kolkata. It is a perfect place to meet up with friends, a great hangout place where you can gossip and chat over phuchkas and bhelpuris, a good place for catching up with your old friends. Located along the banks of the beautiful Hooghly River, the memorial was built in the memory of James Prinsep. The Vidyasagar Setu above it adds to its charm all the more.

Princep Ghat and Vidyasagar Setu are two most famous tourist attractions in Kolkata

Where is Prinsep Ghat (Princep Ghat) located?

Princep Ghat is located between the Water Gate and St. George’s Gate of Fort William beside the Hooghly River. The monument is one of the finest examples of colonial architecture in Kolkata. It might seem that Princep Ghat was not a proper ghat as it is located some distance away from the river. But earlier, there were some stone steps leading to the river. With time, the river has receded and the stone stairs are perhaps buried under the earth.

Princep Ghat is was built in the memorial of James Prinsep, an Anglo Indian researcher and scholar.

Who was James Prinsep?

Princep Ghat in 1900

Princep Ghat in 1900 | Source: Wikimedia

James Prinsep was the son of John Prinsep, a rich indigo planter who later became a merchant for the East India Company. James Prinsep studied architecture under the gifted Augustus Pugin. But he had to discontinue his studies because of an eye infection. James was appointed the Assistant Assay Master in Calcutta Mint and he arrived at the city on 15th September 1819.

While writing this post, I started reading about James Prinsep. He had led a short but such an illustrious life that I was totally impressed with him and kept on researching about him. Well, I am sharing only a few facts about him in this post.  

James Prinsep was a man of science and had studied architecture and chemistry. Later in 1820, he embarked on a budgerow (a barge with cabins) known as bajraa locally towards Benaras. He took his equipment and books in a second boat.

He became the Assay Master of the Mint in Benaras. His work was to test the proportion and quality of the metals used in the coins. Apart from his regular duties at the mint, he also did considerable pro bono work.

  • He created two accurate maps of the Benaras in 1822, one in Roman script for the administration and the other in Devnagari script for the locals. He had plotted all the important buildings of Benaras on the map.
  • He was also the mind behind the building of a tunnel to drain the swamp outside the city. You can say that it was the precursor of modern-day infrastructure.
  • He also repaired the minarets of the Alamgir Mosque.

After spending a decade in Benares, he came back to Calcutta. He completed a project started by his brother in building a canal to connect the distributaries of the River Ganga near the delta in order to make them navigable. Infact, the present Inland Waterways Project is an extension of this colonial engineering.

As an assay master, James also introduced a system of uniform coinage.

However, the most important contribution of James Prinsep was decoding the rock edicts of Emperor Asoka which was in Pali Script. In Kolkata, he was the editor of the Journal of Asiatic Society. In this time, he collated all the available data that were inscribed on the rocks and pillars and in 1837 decoded what is now known as the Brahmi script. It was due to his work that the life and work of Emperor Asoka were finally recovered in his homeland.

James also deciphered the Kharoshti script that appeared in the coins from the regions now in modern Pakistan and Afganistan.

His long hours of work eventually took a toll on his health and he returned to England just before he turned 40 to recover his health. He died on 22nd April 1840 due to “softening of the brain” which perhaps mean some disorder related to the brain.

In 1843, the Princep Ghat Memorial was built in his memory. The Palladian style monument was designed by W. Fitzgerald and the money to build the monument was collected through public subscription.  

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE : Galiff Street Pet Market, Kolkata – the hobbyists’ ultimate destination

More about Prinsep Ghat, Kolkata

Princep Ghat was considered to be one of the grandest and best monuments found for access to a river. It was built to replace Chandpal Ghat as the principal point of embarkment and disembarkment for the important visitors to the city. In 1875, when Albert Edward, Prince of Wales and the eldest son of Queen Victoria visited Calcutta, he was welcomed at the Princep Ghat. Later in 1905, Prince of Wales (later King George V) and in 1911, the British royal family visited India and Princep Ghat bore the witness to all these visits.

Side view of Prinsep Ghat

The Princep Ghat bears a resemblance to Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, though on a much smaller scale. The monument is built on 6 sets of Ionian columns holding a 40 feet roof painted in white. It looks grand from a distance. The monument was neglected for a long time. But in 2001, the monument was restored by the city’s Public Works department as a part of the government’s beautification project. The spot has been maintained since then. It is now one of the most popular spots in Kolkata for locals and tourists alike. You can sit in the lawn in front of the memorial, take a stroll and even visit the riverside. You will also see a number of models and photographers here on shooting assignment. The place is quite photogenic!

Prinsep Ghat Railway Station

There is a railway station named Princep Ghat. It is a part of the Circular railway track of Kolkata. A journey through this railway track will take you through very beautiful landscapes and is highly recommended. Take a train from Princep Ghat to Bagbazar. You will travel beside the Hooghly River and below the Howrah Bridge. From Bagbazar, you can return back to Baboo ghat by return launch.

Did you know that Durga Puja in Kolkata is India’s Official nomination for UNESCO’s 2020 list of cultural institutions? Know more about the Durga Puja in Bonedi Bari (aristocratic families) of Kolkata.

As you cross the railway track, you see the serene Hooghly River welcoming you. You can sit at the ghat and enjoy some tranquil moments. Watching the sunset is an added bonus. A boat ride in the river is also a wonderful experience. With The Howrah Bridge and the Vidyasagar Setu at the backdrop, a boat ride through the Hooghly River will definitely leave you wanting for more! Boat rides can be taken from the ghat for INR 300 for half an hour. It is surely an experience that must be indulged in.

Boat ride on the Hooghly River

Second Hooghly Bridge from Princep Ghat

Entry Fees of Princep Ghat

There is no entry fee. You can enter visit the monument, sit at the lawn and take pictures at your will. However, we feel that the monument should be maintained in a better way and if required entry fees may be introduced.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE : Bow Barracks, the Anglo-Indian community in Kolkata

Leave no Footprints

We have visited Prinsep Ghat a number of times and every time we saw some graffiti on the wall. I am not speaking of the artwork here, but the work of budding lovers who write their names on the walls as their declaration of love! Stains of betel spit are also found at the corners.

Well, we highly condemn such acts and try to stop whenever we see such budding artists. There should be some guard at the place who should look after this so that this heritage structure is not destroyed in this manner. Finally, the onus is also on each of us to keep our city clean.

destroying the heritage

How to reach Princep Ghat?

Princep Ghat is one of the most iconic places of Kolkata. If coming from Howrah, you can take a ferry from Howrah to Baboo Ghat. From there, it is a walking distance to the ghat. You can also take a yellow taxi, Ola or Uber. We would, however, recommend you to take the ferry ride over the Hooghly River.

Did you know, Kolkata has a thriving Chinese community? Know how we celebrate Chinese New Year in Kolkata.

Places nearby

You can visit Victoria Memorial, St.Pauls Cathedral, Esplanade, Rabindra Sadan and Birla Planetarium which are all quite nearby.

Princep Ghat remains one of my favourite places in Kolkata. It is a splendid place to relax and reminisce. An ideal place to consider the future and renew the vows of life.

View of Princep Ghat from the garden

Prinsep Ghat is aplace to meet with friends

Boat ride at Hooghly River

2 Backpackers taking a boat ride on Hooghly River at Princep Ghat

Are you from Kolkata? Have you visited Kolkata? What is your favourite place in Kolkata? Let us know your thoughts about Kolkata in comments below. If you like the post please share it and pin it for a later read!