Armenian Church (Dhaka)

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Armenian Church
Statue located inside the Church
23°42′45.6″N 90°24′11.4″E / 23.712667°N 90.403167°E / 23.712667; 90.403167
Location Armanitola, Dhaka
Country Bangladesh
Denomination Armenian Apostolic Church
History
Founded 1781 (1781)

The Armenian Church (also known as Armenian Apostolic Church of the Holy Resurrection)[1] is a historically significant architectural monument situated in the Armanitola area of old Dhaka, Bangladesh. The church bears testimony to the existence of a significant Armenian community in the region in the 17th and 18th centuries.

History[edit]

Following the domination of their homeland by Persian powers of the time, Armenians were sent by their new rulers to the Bengal region for both political and economic reasons. Although the Armenian presence in South Asia is now insignificant, their presence in Dhaka dates back to the 17th century.[2] Armenians came to Dhaka for business. In Dhaka, Armenian merchants traded in jute and leather, and profitability in these businesses convinced some to move permanently to Bangladesh.[3] The area where they lived became known as Armanitola.[4]

In 1781 the now famous Armenian Church was built on Armenian Street in Armanitola, then a thriving business district. The site was an Armenian graveyard before the church was built, and the tombstones that have survived serve as a chronicle of Armenian life in the area.[3] Agaminus Catachik, an Armenian, gave away the land to build the church. Michel Cerkess, Okotavata Setoor Sevorg, Aga Amnius, and Merkers Poges helped build the church.[citation needed]

In the fifty years following the church's construction, a clock tower was erected on its western side. Allegedly, the clock could be heard four miles away, and people synchronised their watches with the sound of the tower's bell. The clock stopped in 1880, and an earthquake destroyed the tower in 1897.[2] The Armenian played a prominent part in the jute trade in Dhaka and are reputed to be the pioneers of that trade in the second half of the 19th century.Today, the last Armenian that takes cares of the church is Mikel Housep Martirossian (Micheal Joseph Martin).[5][6] He was also one of the Armenian who was in the jute trade.

Architecture[edit]

Armenian Church, 2008

The church is 750 feet (230 m) in length. It has 4 doors, 27 windows. The main floor is divided into three parts: a pulpit enclosed by railings, a middle section with two folding doors, and an area separated by a wooden fence for seating. There is a spiral staircase into the second floor of the church. Beside of this there was a watch house. It was built by johans paru piyete sarkis. The house broke down by an earth quake in 1897. There was a square tower in between the church. A shonkhonill special type of minar used in India to show respect minar was on the top of that. The corridor of the church is 14 feet wide. There is beautiful paintings in the church, it was done by the artist charles port. There is a room behind the pulpit used for baptism, with a 3 foot deep marble baptismal font.

Modern use[edit]

Mother Teresa stayed in the church compound during a 1996 visit to Dhaka.[7]

In the old graveyard, amongst the 350 people buried there, a statue stands at the grave of Catachik Avatik Thomas, portraying his wife. The statue was bought from Kolkata and the grave is inscribed with the words "Best of Husband."[1]

Today, the church is usually closed. It has been the subject of BBC and AFP documentaries. It has been recognized as a heritage site under the jurisdiction of the Department of Archaeology, Bangladesh.[8]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Kabir, Tasneem Tayeb (23 December 2011). "The Armenian Church: Legacy of a Bygone Era". The Independent (Dhaka). Retrieved 27 March 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Ali, Ansar; Chaudhury, Sushil; Islam, Sirajul (2012). "Armenians, The". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. 
  3. ^ a b Lawson, Alastair (10 January 2003). "The mission of Dhaka's last Armenian". BBC. Retrieved 3 May 2012. 
  4. ^ http://www.lonelyplanet.com/bangladesh/dhaka/sights/religious/armenian-church-holy-resurrection
  5. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/2645617.stm
  6. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/2645617.stm
  7. ^ Ahmed, Iftekhar (2012). "Case Studies of Informal Heritage Mangemnt in Old Dhaka". A Study of Architectural Heritage Management by the Informal Community Bodies in Traditional Neighborhoods of Old Dhaka (PDF) (PhD). National University of Singapore. p. 391. Retrieved 6 June 2015. During her visit to Dhaka in 1996, Mother Teresa also stayed in the Church compound 
  8. ^ "Govt to preserve historic religious places: Minister". The Independent (Dhaka). Retrieved 7 February 2016. 

References[edit]

  • Muntasir Mamun: When Colonel Davidson was in Dhaka; Dhaka, 1991.
  • Muntasir Mamun: Dhaka Smriti Bsmritir Nogory; Dhaka, 1993.
  • Kabir, Ihtisham (16 March 2007). "Exploring Old Dhaka by Bicycle". Star Weekend Magazine (The Daily Star). 

External links[edit]