Job Charnock’s Church Exploration
People call it Job Charnock’s Church. Though the actual name is St. John’s Church. There are numerous churches in this city, Kolkata, a number of them called St. John’s Church. So it is quite difficult to find out its location in one one shot. At some distance from Eden garden stadium and Akashbani bhaban, behind the governor house this old mausoleum situated. It was a hot day of October, me with a friend planed to visit the church. We lost our way in the alleys of BBD Bag, but finally succeeded to reach there. Job Charnock was the founder of city Kolkata. Though people hardly recognize the church with mausoleum of Charnock, if you ask them the direction of St John’s Church. When after explaining one old peddler recalled, “Oh you want to go to Charnock’s Church?!” Though the tomb of Job Charnok is at the old Park Street cemetery, ages old St John’s Church contains Job Charnock’s mausoleum. The old caretaker said, “This church used to be just a few kilometer away from the river Bhagirathi. Over the years river go away from its side.” Myth says, when he was passing through river Bhagirathi, he saw some farmers were cutting some plants. He asked about the name of that place. Though farmers misunderstood him and informed that the plants are ripped off just yesterday, that is “Kal Kata” in bengali. Hence the name of the city came Calcutta, which later changed into Kolkata.
The ground and the adjoining land on which the church has erected – was presented in 1783 by Maharaja Nabo Kishen Bahadur, who was the founder of Sobhabajar Raj family, to the governor of bengal that time, Warren Hastings and the church committee. The first ston of the building was first raised on, 6th April, 1784. It was the 13th year of Hasting’s government. However in the year 1958 this monument was been declared to be of national importance under ancient monuments and archaeological sites act, 1958. Charnock died on 10 January 1692. His elder daughter, Mary was married to the first president of Bengal, Sir Charles Eyre. Charnock’s son- in- law, Eyre erected a mausoleum over Charnock’s simple grave in 1695. It can still be seen in the graveyard of St. John’s Church, the second oldest Protestant church in Calcutta after John Zacharias Kiernander’s Old Mission Church. Charnock’s tomb is made from a kind of rock named after him as Charnockite. It is inscribed with,
“In the hands of God Almighty, Job Charnock, English knight and recently the most worthy agent of the English in this Kingdom of Bengal, left his mortal remains under this marble so that he might sleep in the hope of a blessed resurrection at the coming of Christ the Judge”
This church is undertaken by Archaeological Survey of India. It charges tourists, a ticket of 10 rupees to visit this place. It is situated at the heart of the city and surrounded by packed up office locality. St John’s Church can always attract the heritage enthusiasts for taking some time off from the chaos of city. And wander in between greenery, silence and peace. I reached the church with a friend on a hottest noon of Kolkata. Hardly any tourist was there at the church. But a moist breeze, tree shaded lane welcomed us to St John’s church. The church is enriched with a painting of famouse Last Supper and a number of beautiful sculptures. This church is also adorned by the monument of Lady Canning. In a funny myth it says, Lady Canning used to love a particular sweet of Bengal. She was so crazy about this sweet that, they named it as Ladycany – after the name of Lady Canning, the wife of that time’s Governor- general of India, Lord Charles Canning. This famouse Ladycany is still one of the most popular mouth-watering sweet of Bengal and known as ‘Gulab Jamoon’ in the other provinces of India.
Job Charnock’s Church is not a popular tourist spot of Kolkata. Hardly any visitor bother to search out this place. Though Indian government is taking care of this monument, it can be considered as an ignorant heritage of India. This church is maintained by Dioceses church of East and North-eastern India. Church ground has become almost a parking lot now. The grave yard ground which was once used to be the holy cemetery for elite British officials, is now ignored and its glory is lost in oblivion in the flow of time.
YouTube link for the video reference:
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