Thursday, November 3, 2016

Hazi Muhammad Mohsin's Hooghly Imambara

Hazi Muhammad Mohsins Hooghly Imambara
Surprisingly it took less than ten minutes from Bandel Church to reach my third destination of the day- Hazi Muhammad Mohsin’s Hooghly Imambara. As presumed from the nomenclature ‘Imambara’ it turned out to be another majestic Islamic architecture with an extravagant entrance and a colossal clock-tower over that. If it all sounds really grand then pardon me now for breaking your piece of traveler's fantasy. You’ll be dismayed by the sheer lack of maintenance that has pushed this architectural elegance to inevitable decay, as evident from plaster torn out mossy walls, rough floors and broken glasses. A nominal five rupees fee was charged for the entry. Seeing the lack of information board when I inquired for any available information booklet on Hooghly Imambara, the old gatekeeper cum ticket seller coughed out loudly expressing his sheer helplessness explicitly!
Hazi Muhammad Mohsins Hooghly Imambara
You’ll be dismayed by the sheer lack of maintenance that has pushed this architectural elegance to inevitable decay.
The courtyard is large with a rectangular tank in the middle filled with greenish stagnant water and non-functioning fountain system, and fortified by archaic two storied building on all the four sides. If you walk straight from the entrance you’ll reach the prayer hall and the stairway at your right will take you to the zenith of the clock tower. There were separate stairs for ladies and gents which I appreciated whole heartedly only after reaching the top (guess it my friend). There were missing pieces of colored glasses, half broken chandeliers and sleeping lanterns all throughout the building, but all of these living proofs of misery failed to conceal one fact- even Hooghly Imambara had its day!
Hazi Muhammad Mohsins Hooghly Imambara
Like every other Indian monument you’ll find engraved names of shitty love sick Romeo-Juliets!
I took the twisted stairway to the top of the three storied clock tower which is about 150 feet high and contains around 150 steps. The huge clock with two dials, working uninterrupted since it was bought in 1852 by Syed Keramat Ali with 11,721 rupees from London perhaps from the same manufacturer that had manufactured the Big Ben, is the main attraction of the Hazi Muhammad Mohsin’s Hooghly Imambara. This marvelous clock is winded once a week with a key that weighs around 20 kg! While climbing the stairs you can peep through the locked glass doors of three bell rooms and witness the background instruments and mammoth bells working flawlessly till date.
Hazi Muhammad Mohsins Hooghly Imambara
While climbing the stairs you can peep through the locked glass doors of three bell rooms.
Once you exert your maximum stamina like a puffing steam engine and reach the top you'll be slightly disappointed. You won't be able to go out further on to the open roof as the terrace door is kept locked for safety reasons. Still you can enjoy the beautiful underlying panorama comprising Hooghly River, surrounding greeneries, cityscapes, Jubilee Bridge and the aerial view of Imambara through multiple mini vents on the wall of the staircase. Like every other Indian monument you’ll find engraved names of all love sick Romeo-Juliets scattered throughout old walls and wooden structures of the Imambara. I know it’ll sound little less human, but honestly I feel like kicking their butts and make them write “I won’t ever write my shits on any monument wall” at least 10,000 times, of course on paper. The surrounding vista visible from the top of the clock tower soaked with the river breeze stabilized my ‘out of breath’ state and I felt good being there.
Hazi Muhammad Mohsins Hooghly Imambara
You can enjoy the beautiful underlying panorama comprising Hooghly River, surrounding greeneries, cityscapes and the Jubilee Bridge through multiple mini vents at the top of the Imambara.
I came down to check out other parts of the Imambara. Most of the rooms on both side of the courtyard were locked. Presently they are used for official and Islamic teaching purposes. The upper floor seemed inaccessible to tourists as it was being used by a number of residing Muslim families whose roots are somehow attached to the history of the structure. The ceiling of the prayer hall (Zaridalan) is ornamented with chandeliers, colored lanterns and its walls are inscribed with holy words from ‘Hadish’. My semi-agnostic nature seldom allows me to sit and meditate under any religious roof. I went beyond the Zaridalan and the path took me to the river bank at the back of the Imambara where few young boys were bathing.
Hazi Muhammad Mohsins Hooghly Imambara
An abandoned concrete sundial on the backyard of Hooghly Imambara.
The age-old rail bridge over Hooghly River appeared closer from there. A boat ride if available would have been bonus but there was no such facility at that moment. You’ll find an abandoned concrete sundial on the backyard. It was my time to say goodbye to the lofty institution. Later after returning home, on web-searching I came to know, that the Hooghly Imambara was constructed by Hazi Muhamad Mohsin from 1841 to 1861 with an overgenerous sum of 8.5 lacks rupees, over the debris of the older structure built by Muhammad Aga Motahar in 1717. I seriously doubt how many more days it’ll be possible to keep it erect with the meager revenue collected through entry tickets, unless it’s declared as a protected monument by UNESCO. Let me keep my hopes alive and come up with my riding tale to Hangseswari Temple at Bansberia in the subsequent post. Ciao!

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