In today’s travel story, I am going to write about the 300-year-old construction industry of Armenians in Bangladesh. One such monument is called “Armenian Church” located at Armanitola in Old Dhaka. It was originally a Christian shrine built in 1781. Since Dhaka was once the heart of trade, Armenians came to this country to do business. They lived in a fairly large area of old Dhaka. The Armenian cemetery was where the church stands today. A man named “Aga Minas Katchik” provided the land for the church. His wife Sophia is also buried here. Later, they left this country as they could not benefit as much and left this church as a memory.
How to go to the Armenian church?
Way 1- The location of the Armenian Church is in Armanitola of Old Dhaka. You can go directly by rickshaw from any place in Old Dhaka. Most of the time the rickshaw puller doesn’t know this church, in that case, he will drop you Armanitola. You can go down to Armanitola and ask someone or take the help of Google Maps.
Way 2 – Go down Gulistan Babubazar Bridge and ask someone, they will show you the Armenian Church. You can walk for 10 minutes from the bridge or take a rickshaw. The Rickshaw fare is 20 Tk.
Armenian church visiting time-
The church is open seven days a week from 9 am to 5 pm and is open to the public.
Armenian Church Entry Ticket-
The Armenian Church is open to all and there are no tickets or fees to enter.
My Experience in Armenian Church Tour-
We had troubled a lot to find this achievement of the Armenians among so many huge buildings around. Went out to visit Old Dhaka and after seeing the Rose Garden, I was disappointed because the Rose Garden is currently closed (renovation is in progress). Later I thought I should explore the rest of the surrounding areas. The Armenian church came to mind. From the Rose Garden, I headed towards the church with the help of Google Maps. You can also go by rickshaw if you want. 70-80 Tk fare will be charged from Rose Garden. The strangest thing is that when I went to Armanitola and wanted to know where this church was, no one could tell me. Because of so large population in old Dhaka, these architectural monuments remain hidden from the eyes. However, I found the church. The entrance to the church is kept locked. A man came forward to look after us and opened the gate lock. It is mandatory to enter the name and phone number in the entry book before entering. After completing the formalities I went inside. the first thing we saw were rows of graves. This place was originally a cemetery for Armenians, later it was built as a church. Each tomb has an epitaph (write a poem/line for the dead person) soaked in the love of loved ones. This beautiful white and gold colored church has balconies on both sides and also many tombs on the balconies. The burial places have been marked. The epitaphs have been erased by human feet. Most of the graves are slightly above the footpath and each grave is inscribed with the deceased’s name, year of birth, date of death, and a small message from friends or loved ones. When I read these writings, suddenly my eyes were full of tears. Not all of the epitaphs are in a condition to be read. Most of them are faded because they are so old. There are also graves from the 16th century. I got lost for a while visiting this cemetery on foot. Leaving behind so many memories of loved ones may not have been so pleasant for Armenians.
It was sad to see the main church locked. I have never had the privilege of visiting a church without a movie before. As the caretaker who was my previous acquaintance, he agreed to my requests. N.B- It is not open now but on 25th December this church is open for all, the whole church is decorated, the father prays here and food is distributed to the poor. He asked us to come on 25th December. Anyway, when he opened the lock and I entered, I was surprised. Even after all these years, it has become sparkling, there is no dirt splash. There are seating arrangements on two sides, with a small mattress for feet. Just in front is a stage, covered with a red curtain. Draw a picture of Jesus at the top. It would be wrong to call it a picture, it looked like an oil painting to me. Currently, the statue of Jesus Christ has been removed as there is no prayer. There is also a seating area on the upper floor and the statue of Jesus is visible from there. I walked forward. On one side is the Holy Bible, wrapped in a golden velvet cloth. In front of him stands the Father reading the Bible. A few pictures of Jesus and Mother Mary hanging on the wall. There are two rooms on either side of the stage. There is not much inside except a list of all the Fathers of the Armenian Church. Those who are working here, clean the inside and outside of the church every day. On the way out, a broken staircase was seen on one side. It was used to reach the second floor and the roof but is currently broken. A donation box is on a table in front of the stairs. Many foreign tourists donate here.
Currently, there is no father here. However, the descendants of Armenians visit here often every year. Apart from Bangladesh, Armenians also dominated countries like India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal and there are also churches built by them. Apart from the temple, there are some old buildings. The buildings were renovated with deep red paint. A building built in 1909, is using to as a guest house for Armenians. There is also an administrative building. It is difficult to identify such a beautiful structure due to the construction of multi-storied buildings around the church. At one time the people of Dhaka woke up to the sound of the church bell, but later this bell was removed. It is said that this bell could be heard from many miles away. Another landmark of the church was its huge clock destroyed in the earthquake. Also, the most beautiful tomb inside has a statue with a broken arm. It is heard that this happened in lightning. I hope you will enjoy spending time in this quiet environment in the middle of this bustling Old Dhaka.
Cautions and Tips-
1) To avoid crowds you can visit the Armenian church in the morning. And also spend your time here in a very calm environment.
2) Smoking, shouting, and littering inside is completely prohibited.
3) Access to the main shrine/prayer is currently closed. But on 25th December it is open to all.
4) All employees and officials working in the church are quite innocent. Don’t misbehave with them.