Society

This ghost walk tour lets you enjoy spooky tales from your couch

Goosebumps An empty street in Kolkata, Writer’s Building and the South Park Street Cemetery

Goosebumps An empty street in Kolkata, Writer’s Building and the South Park Street Cemetery   | Photo Credit: Elena Odareeva

Historian Anthony Khatchaturian is all set to venture out on another ghost walk trail in Kolkata. You can join in virtually, from the comfort of your home

When historian Anthony Khatchaturian starts a narrative with “What lies beneath...” you know you’ll be biting your nails by the time that sentence is completed. Known to lead midnight ghost and history trails in Kolkata, he is now starting off with virtual ghost tours.

“I had to adapt or die,” says Anthony, adding, “The economy hasn’t been great recently so I had a bad season, then Covid came along with a eulogy for the tourism and allied industries. I was brainstorming with Prof Souvik Mukherjee, Head of English at Presidency College in Kolkata, and he suggested I go virtual.”

Anthony’s first virtual walk will take place this Saturday — way after sunset — when the rest of the city is tucked into their beds and the roads are barren and eerily quiet. That is when he will boldly step into the scene, exploring buildings and spaces whose mysterious pasts still make their presence felt. And will Anthony be all by himself? “I hope not,” he laughs.

The plan is to bring along academics and historians, both amateur and professional, who can conduct a live question and answer session at every location and share their knowledge about those locations too.

This ghost walk tour lets you enjoy spooky tales from your couch

People — no matter which city they are in — can join whichever tour they want on Anthony’s Virtual Tours page on Facebook and he will then add them to a Skype group call. “I will start the conference video call from my starting point — the camera will face me when I explain the history and it will pan towards the buildings as I talk about them and their particular features,” he explains.

He is also hoping he can hold at least 11 people on a video conference call and he is currently harassing his friends conducting trial runs to iron out the creases. If this works well, he plans to make all the tours virtual, including the Colonial Cemeteries, Dalhousie and Brabourne Road areas.

And what can viewers expect? Spooky tales and nuggets of information such as this: The busy T-junction in front of Writer’s Buildings in Kolkata is famous for traffic jams but only few know of the horrors that lie below.

This ghost walk tour lets you enjoy spooky tales from your couch

“It was in this spot that the dead from the infamous ‘Black Hole of Calcutta’ incident were brought out and buried in a makeshift mass grave in what was then the compound of St Anne’s Church, which was damaged in the Battle of Lal Dighi — the fight for Calcutta between Siraj ud Daula and the East India Company. The church was demolished, the site of the grave had a monument with the names of the deceased — which has since been moved to St John’s Church just over a kilometre down the road and Writer’s Buildings has come up, but the dead still lay six feet below a busy crossing!”

Is Anthony confident of virtual tours working out in India, given that a lot of us like to experience all aspects of a product, particularly touch and feel?

Anthony says, “We certainly are touchy/feely, but this not only gives those locked up at home due to COVID-19 a chance to do something other than watch streaming services, but I am hoping it makes tourism accessible and cheap for those sitting in different parts of the world.”

The duration of the walk is two hours and is priced at ₹500. It starts at 11.30 pm on March 21. For details, log on to Anthony’s Kolkata Heritage Tours on Facebook.

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 8:41:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/this-ghost-walk-tour-lets-you-enjoy-spooky-tales-from-your-couch/article31108883.ece

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