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The History of Calcutta

The History of Calcutta

                                   Part 2: Pathuriaghata

One of the oldest affluent localities of old Calcutta is Pathuriaghata. A 'senior' branch of the Tagore family of Jorasanko lived in Pathuriaghata. The famous 'Marble Palace' of Mullick family of Pathuriaghata is a splendour to many. But how did the name 'Pathuriaghata' came into being? Radharaman Mitra in his 'Kalikata Darshan' writes that the ghat was made of marble, so its name. But others beg to differ. 'Pathuria' in Hindi means 'prostitute'(refer to Ahalya pashani). Therefore, Pathuriaghata means a prostitute infested locality. Sonagachhi is really not far from Pathuriaghata. 
        Thinking about the etymology it flashed that, 'Pathuria' somehow resounds to Bengali words like 'Sapuria'(Snake charmer), 'Kathuria'(wood cutter) etc. If we deconstruct the root of the word 'pathuria', 'path'(bengali) refers to the people whose profession was collecting and selling water. From the Sanskrit word 'Pathh' or 'Paths' have come the Bengali word 'Path', meaning water. Then was it so that Pathuriaghata was a ghat for the dealers of Ganges water? 'Sacred' river water was collected and sold in old Calcutta. Ganges water was highly in demand in Western and Southern India. Renowned merchants from Calcutta sent this water to various temples around India from Pathuriaghata. It is heard that Baishnabcharan Seth supplied water to temples of Somnath and Dwarka periodically. He earned his name in dealing water at that time. He was even awarded the title of 'Pathuria-ratna' for this.
        Again, in many rich families, Ganges water was used for drinking purpose. Tagore family of Jorasanko was not an exception. 'Pathurias' supplied waters to these homes and in return they were even paid in land. Later this tradition was preserved by the Odias. There were even separate tanks for collecting Ganges water in many affluent houses of Pathuriaghata.


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