In our last post, we had shared our visit to St. John’s Church, Kolkata. As mentioned, the church complex was actually a burial ground known as the old burial ground which was later donated by Raja Naba Krishna Bahadur of Sovabazar to Warren Hastings, the Governor General of Calcutta. The church complex has other monuments and memorials which speak of the colonial past of Calcutta. Here are the other structures present in the complex.
Job Charnock’s Tomb
This is perhaps one of the most important monuments of Kolkata itself. There are so many beautiful things to be seen in Kolkata that we often forget about this little piece of monument. We literally ignore to know about the founder of Calcutta, Job Charnock. On August 24, 1690, Job Charnock landed on the village of Sutanuti (currently North Kolkata). As we know, that it was Charnock who combined the three villages of Sutanuti, Govindapur and Kalikata to form the present day Kolkata. He died two years after his arrival in Sutanuti. His eldest son-in-law Charles Ayer had built the octagonal Moorish style tomb. The tomb was built by stones brought all the way from Pallavaram near Chennai. This type of stone was later come to be known as Charnokite.
Black Hole Monument
The Black Hole of Calcutta is perhaps one of the most controversial historical events of Calcutta.The monument was originally built by John Hollwell in the memory of all the British who died in the Black hole tragedy. According to British history, it is said that after the seize of Calcutta by Nawab Siraj-ud-Daula, he had taken about 146 British as prisoners. These prisoners were all confined in a small room without ventilation measuring about 14 feet by eight feet. It is said that when the door was opened the next day, only 23 survived and the rest died due to suffocation. John Hollwell was one of the survivors and he built the Black Hole Monument in memory of those died on that fateful night. But the Black Hole tragedy is itself a matter of great debate with Indian historians claiming that no such life was lost. Infact, it is believed that the British residents escaped through a secret tunnel to river Hooghly, from where they were taken to Chennai by a ship.
Rohilla War memorial
This memorial is in the form of a rotunda supported by 12 columns. It was built in 1774 in the memory of those British soldiers who fell in the Rohilla war (1772-1774).
Lady Canning Memorial
Lady Charlotte Canning, the wife of Lord Canning, the Governor General and Viceroy of India was immortalized in Calcutta by the famous confectioner Bhim Nag. It was he who had designed the sweet “ladykeni” in honour of Lady Cannings.
Unfortunately, the lady died of malaria and was buried at Barrackpore. His memorial though stands at the St. John’s Church compound.
Frances (Begum) Johnson’s grave
Frances Johnson was a very colorful character of Bengal. She lived up to a ripe age of 89 and was declared the oldest British resident of Bengal. Married for four times, she was fondly called Begum Johnson. She was widely respected, loved and revered by both the British and the Indians. Her grave is located at the end of the St. John’s Church, Kolkata.
A visit to the St. John’s Church is itself an insight into the world of old Calcutta. The morning that we spent there was equally interesting and the experience worth sharing.
Location: At Council House Street. It is a walking distance from Raj Bhavan, the residence of Governor of Bengal.
Nearest Metro Station: Esplanade Metro Station
How to reach: One can simply walk from either Esplanade Bus Terminus or Raj Bhavan. Or take a taxi.
Open: All days, 10 am – 5 pm
Sunday service: 8–9 am
Entrance Fee: Rs 10
Photography/Video Charges: Nil