Friday, December 30, 2011

Kolkata Kaleidoscope : Portuguese Church

Since this is Christmas time, I decided to share with you the experience of my visit to one of the old churches of Kolkata. The Portuguese Church located at the Portuguese Church Street near Dalhousie Square was set up as early as 1747. The best way to reach the church is to walk a few paces northwards along Brabourne Road behind St. Ardrew's Church (which is just on the right side of Writers' Building).

However, I came across the place from an altogether different side. Actually, I along with my friend Saibal went to visit the Armenian Church but could not locate it although we spent quite some time roaming around the Armenian Street. No body seemed to have any knowledge of the church, though I was sure it was somewhere in the vicinity. One shopkeeper showed me a narrow street to follow and while he gave us direction I was confident with his conviction that the street would lead us to the church. But alas it was an altogether different church that we landed up at. Having said that we were not disappointed with this church, formally known as the Cathedral of the Holy Rosary but commonly referred to as the Portuguese Church.

When we entered the premises we found a good many car parked in the compound which was something odd given the abandoned status of most of the churches in Kolkata. We were thinking of whether it was any special day but given the fact that it was a Saturday, it would not have been possibly the day of the weekly mass. Soon however we realized that the church compound was being used as a parking space and even there were a couple of hawkers. A homeless person was sound asleep at the main door of the church building and the door was closed to our dismay.

Thankfully one of the doors on the side was ajar and we could sneak into the church. There was no one inside and we had a brief tour of the church of our own. The striking feature of the church is its colourfulness. Most of the other churches that I have visited before are painted in dull white but not this one. The chapel at the centre hosts a wooden statue of Virgin Mary and on either side of it, round stained glass windows adorned the walls. There were many more colourful wooden statues all over the church and wooden panels depicting the various stages of the passion of the Christ decorate the walls. 

All in all it was a good experience. We were very much impressed with the church. Just hope it becomes more approachable to the public in general, not only the devout but also people who like to visit the place as a historical monument and pay a tribute to its elegance.