Cruise down the Hooghly river offers a peek into Kolkata’s history

From October 1, the West Bengal Transport Department (WBTD) commences a 90-minute Heritage River Cruise that starts from the Millennium Park Jetty.   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

It is along the bends of the river Hooghly that the city of Kolkata grew from three villages to a bustling metropolis. Now a cruise on the Hooghly will take people past the different ghats of the river, providing a peek into the history of the metropolis.

From October 1, the West Bengal Transport Department (WBTD) commences a 90-minute Heritage River Cruise that starts from the Millennium Park Jetty.

Sailing upstream and downstream, the vessel will pass beneath the majestic Howrah Bridge, and go past ghats such as the Armenian ghat, Nimtala ghat and Mayer ghat. Each ghat on the bank of the river has a bit of history attached to it.

For instance, the Armenian ghat was built back in 1734 by Manvel Hazaar Maliyan, a trader of Armenian origin. The ferry ghat stands testimony to Kolkata’s cosmopolitan culture in the colonial times, and the Armenian community’s contribution to the city.

There is also the Mayer ghat (the mother’s ghat), which draws its name from Maa Sarada Devi, wife of Ramakrishna Paramhamsa. She would visit the ghat daily, and stayed near it from May 1909 to July 1920.

Similarly, the Nimtala ghat is a historical landmark where the cremation of Rabindranath Tagore and other important cultural icons was performed. The famous Bhootnath temple is located here.

The cruise’s itinerary also includes Chandpal ghat, located just on the northern side of Babughat, the very place where Lord Cornwallis, the first Governor General of India, landed on September 12, 1786. Guides on board the cruise will tell people about the ghats, and visitors will also be provided with complimentary cruise heritage navigation brochures.

Officials of the Transport Department said that tickets have been kept affordable at ₹39 for the entire cruise to attract more people. “The idea is to make the heritage river cruise experience affordable, and popular among the youth,” said the Managing Director of WBTD Rajanvir Singh Kapur.

Following physical distancing norms, as of now, not more than 150 people will be allowed on each trip.

Attempts have been made in the past to boost waterfront tourism in the city by State governments and different agencies. About 17 km of the Hooghly river’s waterfront lies within the metropolitan corporation’s boundaries, of which about a 10 km length of riverfront, from Taktaghat in south Kashipur and Pramanik ghat in the north, represent the most active and vibrant portion of Kolkata’s diverse engagements with the river. There are dozens of ghats on both banks of the river that not only provide a rich slice of history but are associated with the way of life of the city’s people.

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Printable version | Nov 28, 2020 2:59:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/cruise-down-the-hooghly-river-offers-a-peek-into-kolkatas-history/article32744253.ece

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