An ancient Armenian church in Dhubri, India, now functions as a club, according to The Telegraph India.
With its obscure past and unique architecture, the church has been a topic of mystery among elderly locals of Dhubri.
“And how with its stature as a well-connected port Dhubri had drawn people of different origins from distant places, including Armenians,” reads the article.
The Armenians arrived in India before the British. They had a considerable presence in Kerala and Bengal. In Calcutta, the Armenians contributed to the city’s commerce as a thriving business community and helped build some of the most prominent landmarks.
Heritage Conservation Society of Assam (HeCSA), a registered society working towards the conservation and preservation of Assam’s pre-colonial structures, recently shared a photo of the Armenian Church, sparking interest among heritage connoisseurs.
“The structure throws light on an intriguing chapter in Assam’s history,” said Jayanta Sharma, secretary of HeCSA. “Till now, it was only known that Armenians had a significant presence in Bengal during pre-colonial time. (…). It is important to know what influence they had in Dhubri district.”
The key to the mystery surrounding the church and the presence of Armenians in Dhubri lies with the surviving older generation which has witnessed some of the remnants of what the Armenians left behind.
Among them is octogenarian S.K. Bose, a writer and connoisseur of the region’s socioeconomic and cultural aspects. Bose was born in Dhubri and had witnessed some of the elaborate Armenian structures, including a graveyard.
“There was a graveyard about 50 meters from the church,” said Bose. “I vividly remember around 12 to 15 Armenian graves. Among them were two of children. This signifies that the Armenians had a significant presence. They were traders who could have arrived in Dhubri during the 18th century or early 19th century. But the graveyard is no longer there. Modern construction prevailed over it. Only old records could show the exact date.”
The British transformed the Armenian church into a club which in post-Independence India came to be known as the Ladies’ Club.