alexandra

alexandra
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Sunday, 23 March 2014

A place where the time has stopped


The churches in Dhaka are truly a great attraction of the city which has been drawing loads of tourists from all corners of the world. The visitors always enjoy a great time in visiting the churches of the city. The best of the lot in the city is the Armenian Church which was built in 1781.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.
Armenians came to Dhaka for business, and have been acknowledged for displaying a passion for trade comparable to that of the Bengalis of the time. In Dhaka, Armenian merchants traded in jute and leather, and profitability in these businesses convinced some to move permanently to Bangladesh. The area where they lived became known as Armanitola.In faith, the Armenians were Christians belonging to Greek or Orthodox Church. They built churches wherever they settled. Armenian
churches and secular monuments in Chinsura, Saidabad, Murshidabad, Calcutta and Dhaka are still extant. The early Armenian settlers built a small chapel in the midst of their community graveyard. By the end of the 18th century the Armenian community had grown considerably and the chapel was found inadequate for the needs of the community.
So the chapel was replaced by the Holy Resurrection Church with major donations. Before this church had been built the Armenians were interned beside the Roman Catholic Church at Tejgaon. The church was completed in 1781 and consecrated by His Grace Bishop Ephreim.

The belfry was added in 1837
through donations of another merchant, Johannes Carapiet Sarkies. 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 sychronised their watches with the sound of the tower’s bell. The clock stopped in 1880, and an earthquake destroyed the tower in 1897. In 1910, a parsonage was added and the floor of the church was decorated with marble, and electric lights.
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 Husbands.”

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