|Ram Chandra Goenka Zenana Bathing Ghat as seen from Howrah Bridge|
The flower market at Mallik Ghat, near the Howrah Bridge is certainly not for the faint hearted, or the claustrophobic. Hundreds of stalls and thousands of people jostle for space, bargain and make purchases in an area designed to hold a fraction of that number. But for photographers, it is a paradise. Teeming with life and a riot of colours, it is full of opportunities for those willing to brave the crowds.
|Rai Bahadur Bissessur Lall Hurgobind Sradh Ghat|
We ventured into the melee on a Sunday morning in winter. Our objective was to locate and photograph the ornate ghats behind the market. A walk across the Howrah Bridge early in the morning in winter is highly recommended, especially if you get there before sunrise. Watching the sun rise over the Ganges, known here as the Hooghly, and watching the first rays of morning light bathe the Howrah station is an experience to remember. The station complex looks rather like a fort when seen from the middle of the bridge. At the Calcutta end of the bridge, get off on the right, or southern side of the bridge and you can descend into the heart of this flowery chaos using a set of worn out and slippery stairs. Passing through the maze that is the market, as you try and get closer to the river, the first ghat you find, right next to the bridge, is the Rai Bahadur Bissessur Lall Hurgobind Sradh Ghat. All that is known about the gentleman after whom the ghat is named is that he was a rich Marwari businessman, and his “sradh” ceremony was conducted on that spot. The ghat that was erected in 1916 was probably meant as a sort of marker and memorial. Infront of the ghat maybe found a raised area with parallel bars. This spot was in use as a wrestling ring by local “pehelwans”. It may still be used for the purpose, but that seems unlikely considering the garbage that is found piled around the corners. Infront of the ghat was also a park, and it’s railings may still be seen, but the park itself has vanished, encroached upon for decades by slum settlements. Nearby are also five banyan trees, each containing a small shrine at its base.