Location: Just Before Outram Ghat and Judges Ghat
“The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air”.
The very words of the Romantic poet become appropriate if you go to a place where you will stay free from all hazards but in this city. After a long week’s hazard your mind needs a free place where you and your mind will converse. You will become nostalgic. You will become the fiancée of solitude. You will find yourself in a place not far from the madding crowd but you get complete emancipation for sometime – this is a heritage place situated on the eastern bank of the River Hughli, a most secluded place but not a desolate one.
It is the Prinsep Ghat – a multi pillared memorial built in memory of James Prinsep, an antiquarian, British Orientalist and a versatile genius per se. He devoted most of his life to doing architectural works in Benaras. He rose to fame for the decipherment of the Brahmi script and translation of the royal edicts issued by the Mauryan sovereign, Asoka. The seventh son of John Prinsep, a wealthy merchant associated with the English East India Company and a member of the British Parliament, James Prinsep completely inscribed his life to restoring the glory that was India.
This Occidental scholar of the Orient deliberated on Indian epigraphy and numismatics. With his premature demise, his colleagues raised this structure in his memory situated underneath the Second Hugli Bridge. It was opened to the mass in 1843. From that time onwards, the Prinsep Ghat became a heritage spot. When the erstwhile eastern capital of British India underwent a massive beautification, the Prinsep Ghat became famous for the anchorage of British armada. A panoramic vista of its paramount beauty was also envisioned by the common folk of Kolkata.
Now, this Prinsep Ghat becomes not merely a place of heritage, but a place where couples solace themselves, a poet engages in a creative encounter, or an octogenarian recollects his colossal past while walking by the boulevard, not much distanced from the river. An eternal peace fills the place the year round.
This place is not rendered a cliché, fraught by the humdrum of commuters. No pollution of the city takes away the immaculate elegance of the place. Least affected by the hustles of the city, the cenotaph is flanked on one side by a senile Banyan tree right from its inception. At present the Ghat is well-decorated with plants with its beautiful garden attracting the lovers and passers-by.
The ambiance makes the lovers to romance with jhalmuri or a nearby fuchka store and a lone one makes his mind nostalgic. One will remind his pasts. And the tired wayfarer used to take rest after a long journey. It looks like a fond mother leads her little child to bed. Nature’s cradle is a pleasant comfort for every human being.
Most awesome it is, instead of finding the British armada you will now discern graceful boats awaiting you to catch a glimpse of the marvelous and magnificent Howrah Bridge and the similarly majestic Vidyasagar Setu while on ride. Such a ride of lovers in summer evenings across the river privileges them with a psychological tour to exotic lands of legendary eminence. One is also sure not to lose sight of the Hindus performing their regular as well as occasional rituals herein attributing myriad facets to the Ghat.
A painter will soon find his energy to draw the landscape beauty of this embankment.He will try hard to bring the magnificence with pencil or color. That simplicity makes so attractive that an amateur photographer catch this historical and natural beauty in twilight with a sepia look that will bring the nostalgic effect to every appreciator.
All this will actually enthrall one ‘who has long been in city pent’. By far, the Prinsep remains one of the most preferred spots for lovers, tourists, photographers, painters, elders, alike – each one of them find history and modernity wedded here in their own way.
This historical beauty is not merely a cenotaph of a great learned, but a melting point of learning and love spelling out the essence of an emotional intellect. It is not so hard to comment that this oldest recreation spot in the heart of Kolkata, a most isolated place for gossiping or merry making or to recollect past in this City of Joy.