Ghosts of Kolkata: Kolkata Tourism Archives
– Reading Time (20 Min Approx)
Kolkata – the city of passion & literature, with history sprawling around its every hooks & nooks, has its own magic with its own unique charm that can be so enchanting, that you just can’t get over it.
A city which dates back to 1686, must have witnessed so much that it can narrate so many ghostly stories if the old buildings, the narrow shady lanes, monumental structures had a voice, but of course if u have an eye for them or rather an ear to hear the silence – the silence in which they speak. As they say, silence has a language of its own. This reminds me of “the Listeners” –
“But only a host of phantom listeners
That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
To that voice from the world of men”
Kolkata (previously known as Calcutta) is also known as the cultural capital of the country, but if you delve deeper you can see the haunting secrets of the old past of Tilottoma. Now haunting, eerie spirits or the paranormal whatever you may call them, you might believe or not believe in those, but the fact is you can’t ignore them. Somewhere within, we love the goose bumps, the cold shiver across the spine.
Its first January and the chill is in the air too, isn’t it ideal to talk about the ghosts of Kolkata, the shadows from the reminiscence of the past. Some call these stories, some had experienced, some are curious. But I’m sure you can’t ignore them.
These are stories heard on and off in Kolkata about these famous and heritage spots of the city.
First in the list is the Writers building (1), which is the secretariat building of West Bengal government before Nabanna was made. It has its historical relevance from the British rule in India and became quite a landmark of the freedom movement since Binay, Badal, Dinesh killed Captain Simpson of east India Company. The 300 year old building is known for its haunted reputation, the officials refuse to work till late in the evening as some of them say suddenly wind gushes in and starts opening and closing the windows. Caretakers and security guards have also reported presence of an eeriness around, sudden loud screams are head tearing the silence of the night apart, no one knows the building had witnessed which dark past of intolerance and whose unfortunate untold stories of sufferance must be echoing around the mute walls of the building.
The National Library (2) on the Belvedere Estate in Alipore, Kolkata, is the largest library in India by volume, and India’s library of public record. It is the largest in India with a collection in excess of 2.2 million books. Before independence, it was the official residence of Governor General of India. It is considered to be one of the most haunted places of the city. Readers and library officials have complained of uncanny footsteps being heard near them; books are often dropped from the shelves, noises of turning pages are heard but while checking no one could be seen in the book galleries. It is said that the ghost of Lord Metcalfe’s wife who roams in the premises as it used to be her residence pre-independence. Not even one guard can be seen in the night as everyone is too scared of staying at this haunting place. A secret room with no doors and openings was also found sometimes back which was almost 250 years old. Many incidents of suicide also occurred in the garden of National Library. So, this place will not only quench your thirst for knowledge but also your interest in paranormal.
Next in the list is the Ghats on the Ganges (3) below Howrah bridge, The ghats below the bridge close to the flower market has a notorious reputation of spookiness, people have witnessed a raised hand of a drowning person in the river screaming for help but if at all one tries a plunge into the river to rescue, chances of being alive is less, it is said that the spirits of those who commit suicide or died accidentally drowning allures people to death. Wish Tagore had witnessed one such incidents then his “Ghater kotha” would have taken some other shape.
My grandfather used to work with Geological survey of India (4), he once told me about his experience, due to some urgent work once he had to stay back at office till late night, although the security guard warned him “saab rat ko mat rahiyega yeha bahut kuch ajeeb hota hai (sir, please don’t stay late at night here, there are many spooky thing happening here!)” my grandfather didn’t pay much heed to it, in the evening while he was working he heard heavy footsteps on the floor above which was collection item room for antiquities, he heard noises of instruments as if someone is working there. the room was supposed to be remain locked, so he went upstairs to check if there was any infringement. Adding more to his astonishment he found though the room was locked from outside lights were on and someone was working inside. From the gap below the door he could see a tall shadow as well and suddenly someone roared from inside in the British accent “who is there outside”. To this he fainted, later when he came back to his senses, the guards told him that he witnessed the spirit of a British official who used to work for geological survey of British India pre-independence, and died of a heart attack while working and he was working on a project which remained incomplete so he still comes to finish his work.
This story is a known one which you will get to hear from the taxi drivers of Kolkata, according to them at almost 4 am, a police officer hires a cab from Red Road (5) and asks for a drop at Behala, after his duty he wishes to get back home, but after sometimes to the drivers finds no one in the back seat. They say this officer had died on one such day after his duty and his spirit still haunts them.
Next in the list is the haunted house of dolls or Putulbari (6) as the name suggests, this zamindari old house at Sovabazar is adorned with dolls. The concept of dolls in an old house with cobwebs and broken pillars itself evokes a spooky feeling.Although there are some inhabitants in the house till now, but no one dares to visit the upper stories of this haunted house. The huge architecture of Roman style along with some dolls on stands just multiplies the eeriness of the place. The zamindar who inhabited the place in the old days used to sexually exploit young women here and even killed some of them. Now it is said that the spirits of the women are still haunting the place in order to seek revenge. Deep in the night, one may sense a shrill laughter or even clinking of bangles and anklets.
The South Park Street Cemetery (7) is the oldest one among all the burial grounds in Kolkata, built in 1767, and also the spookiest one. Paranormal activities like shadows moving, cameras malfunctioning or capturing eerie images and health deteriorating have been witnessed in this place. People staying nearby are so afraid of this haunted place that they keep their windows shut at all times. Some adventure loving people still visit the place to have a taste of the paranormal. But people who take photographs here have later seen shadows in those photos along with their own picture.
The Royal Calcutta Turf Club (8), Racecourse area becomes haunted on the moonlit nights, especially on Saturdays, “Shaheb er Shada Ghora” is seen galloping over the stands. The story dates back to the 1930s when there was a race maniac named George Williams. He loved his horses more than he loved his job and family and his favourite one was a pearl white horse named Pride. She was known as the Queen of the Tracks and she won many races, fame and prizes for her master. But with age, she was fading and her last race was the Annual Calcutta Derby. Pride lost the race and George Williams lost his fortune. The next morning, she was found dead on the tracks, someone shot her dead, and it is supposed that the spirit of this horse can still be seen now. Some even says that Saheb himself killed his favourite horse – the Royal Calcutta Turf Club earned an infamous reputation as a haunted place in Kolkata for that.
Ravindra Sarovar metro station (9) is another infamous place of Kolkata, but it is quite coincidental that maximum suicides in metro take place at Rabindra Sarovar Metro Station. The last train is said to be haunted and people have seen fading shadows and strange images visible then disappearing in the blink of an eye. Even some of the station attendants and train drivers have said that they have seen figures wandering around.
The Indian Museum (10) is known to be haunted by the ghost of the Egyptian mummy, which is preserved at the Museum, that room itself feels colder than any other rooms of the building even during daytimes. The guards say they have heard the mummy walking at night. Adding to the Indian Museum’s infamous reputation are tales of marching-boot sounds at night attributed to the restless spirits of Indian freedom fighters detained in the administration building by the British in the early 20th century.
The Wipro Office (11) is one of those haunted places in Kolkata whose stories you’ll hear young people narrate, rather than the older generation. It is now that Salt Lake has become the IT hub of Kolkata, but once upon a time it was a part of the Kolkata wetlands. The office of Wipro is supposed to be built on a graveyard and the local residents of that place claim that they have seen strange visions in the darkest hours during the night. People are strictly advised not to wander in the Third Floor of the Tower 3 and the floor is shut all most all the time as it is haunted by many ghosts. People working the graveyard shifts in this office have often complained of hearing and seeing things whenever they leave to use the lifts or step out of the buildings.
The Hastings’ House (12), which is presently, Women’s College of Calcutta University, this one is yet another haunted place in Kolkata which dates back to history. Warren Hastings used to stay here. There is a rumour that one could hear the footsteps of Warren Hastings, who come to the place in search of his folder. That folder contained some old papers that could have saved him from getting impeached in London. Some students claim that they have seen a man riding a horse visit the place.
The Kolkata Dockyard (13) was once owned by Nawab Wajid Ali Shah of Awadh. This is not one of the famous haunted places in Kolkata but there are some eerie stories which are lesser known. The residents of this area believe that the spirit of the Nawab wanders in a place in order to seek revenge from the British for setting up a home in his much-loved property.
Another one in the list is the Lal Bazar building (14) which is the Kolkata police headquarters. The top floor is reported to be haunted, specially the room assigned for the police sketch expert, the reason behind this room being assigned for the artist is because of the nature of his work, much concentration and isolation is required for his job. Away from the hustle bustle of the rest of the building, he works till late. The officers say that no one agrees to stay in that room after evening. The windows open and close making weird noise of its own. There is always a strange silence which haunts the place. A story revolves of a prisoner once jumping of the window and committing suicide, it might be so that his spirit haunts the place.
Now these are a few of the stories of the ghostly spots of the city of joy. It’s up to my dear readers whether they would like to quest these places at your own risk. And nowadays Ghost walks are also happening with much fanfare in the city, interested people may like to book a rendezvous with the city ghosts in one of the holinights.