Who does not wish to see a ghost? Well at least everyone want to but very few are lucky rather I should say unlucky to see them. Personally till date I have not seen these creatures and don’t really require to see them actually. After all I am human being thus I do have curiosity and this curiosity sometimes kills.
While on a tour to Kumortuli I was invited to join my photo walk buddies to a casual tour of Putul Bari (Doll House) after our Kumortuli walk. The curious animal that I am could not refuse this offer to meet the famous house of ghosts in Kolkata.
Now from where did this concept of Putul Bari being a ghost house come into pace in the first place. For this we need to go back in time, I mean not centuries but to October 2013. I had read an article in The Telegraph where they had mentioned six haunted places of Kolkata and Putul Bari was one of them. From that moment on the social media circus was hot with several walks to these haunted places and Putul Bari became the hot spot for photographers desperate for a glimpse of these spirited creatures.
I personally know many of my close buddies who had visited this house or made an attempt but could not figure out the way and got lost in the maze of lanes of North Kolkata. Not knowing what this house actually is many speculated that this house must have a treasure trove of dolls from the early nineteenth century which must have been owned by the owner’s daughter. After the daughters sudden death the house became haunted and the dolls woke up at night and roamed the rooms.
Whereas some was sure that this was a place where the rich and famous came for an evening dance performance by Baiji’s. And during one such performance one of the dancer was murdered in this building and from that day on it became haunted by the spirit of this damsel, on a full moon night she still dances in the terrace.
I have even heard someone swear that this house was the scene of many slaughters by the British during the Indian freedom struggle. These dead freedom fighters instead of haunting the British generals started haunting the locals.
The stories never stopped and each came up with a new story, when asked about the reference none of them could prove anything and always referred that they had read about this somewhere on the Internet.
To be very honest even I became a victim of the social media trap and started believing that the Putul Bari is haunted. Being a blogger however I wanted an authentic story so that I can blog the real haunted story and not hearsay.
Coming back to the Putul Bari adventure we decided to visit this place after our Kumortuli Photo Walk and this place was just a ten minute walk from Kumortuli. Situated near Sovabazar Launch Ghat on Hara Chandra Mullick Lane this house surely does not look that impressive from outside. Typical that of most old North Kolkata building this was in a similar dilapidated state, not being painted for decades the red brick structure stood out against the dull September sky.
The structure from outside looked more like a warehouse than a house, the large rooms could be easily made out even from the exterior. Putul Bari lies right next to the train track or Circular Rail thus the next time you travel this line be sure to look out for a quick glimpse and you will know what I am saying. With rows of trucks standing next to the rail track this place was quite busy, there was a constant rush of men with huge loads of cartons over their head loading the waiting trucks.
From here you can clearly see the top of the Putul Bari, you can see the two concrete status at the top of the building. I am sure during its heyday this building would have looked marvellous against the backdrop of the Hoogly River.
Don’t be mistaken this is not the main entrance, for that you need to cross the rail track and follow the narrow lane to the opposite side of the building. Somehow I could see the local residence not being amused to see so many photographers at the early morning hour. It was almost a dead ignorance that stared at our face.
Walking to the other end to Hara Chandra Mullick Lane we finally came to the entrance of the famous Putul Bari. By now there was an adrenaline rush in my body, there was a sense of anticipation, perhaps a sense of déjà vu considering the fact that I was about to brush shoulder with ghosts.
The entrance to this building really looks in shambles and there it was right in front of our face, a large signboard. Reading the content made us all stunned, written in large red font were these words written in Bengali. Translated: Entrance strictly prohibited – Do not lay ears to rumours. Do not spread rumours. Do not get influenced by the wrong information on Social Media. All facts about ghosts are completely a lie. Do not enter the house to verify this fact. – Residence.
We were speechless and did not know what to do next, all the adrenaline rush was gone, ghosts no ghosts nothing was registering in my head. All the anticipation of meeting a friendly or not so friendly ghost was gone. Desperate as we were we still decided to enter the house.
It was completely dark inside only lit by a completely dim incandescent bulb at a distance. A small shadowy figures appears as a silhouette against the vast room, is that a ghost I thought to myself. Suddenly the shadowy figure spoke in Bengali “Keno tomra ghorer modhyay dhukecho” Why have you people entered the house. By now the shadowy figure could be made out to be an old lady walking around with washed laundry in her hand, clearly she was looking for a place to hang them for drying. “Ghost, we have come to see ghost” quickly came the reply. Angrily the old lady snapped, “Do I look like a ghost to you?, why do you people keep bothering us with these nonsense stories of ghost”.
By now another gentleman appears to the right and things become much clear now, this place is actually a vest knitting factory and all around were old knitting machinery. Just because the lights were dim these could not be made out clearly from outside. Both of the agitated residence confirm that the ghost stories are completely woven in air and have nothing to do with this house. Suddenly we hear heavy footsteps in the background, clearly someone was climbing up the old wood staircase. The old lady and the gentleman at once asked us to leave since it was landlord who had just stepped in.
Sensing this opportunity my friend rushed back towards the entrance to speak with the landlord. The middle aged and medium build gentleman was climbing up the stairs towards the first floor of the house. Excusing himself and the others for the intrusion we asked him as to how this rumour about ghost got spread. Little agitated the gentleman replied that some people had unnecessarily spread this rumour on the social media and on the Internet about ghost in this house whereas in reality none of these are true. This building was basically a warehouse from the very beginning and still remains the same. There are however some people who stay in this building and they are definitely not ghosts.
Regretfully he informs us that this nuisance has forced him to put the signage outside the house and stop everyone from entering. Even the people genuinely interested in restoration of heritage structures are now being prevented from entering this heritage building since they have had enough of intruders already and do not want to be disturbed anymore.
He seemed to be angrier about few individuals who had actually weaved this story initially and created this mess. He is definitely contemplating legal action in the future if this kind of disturbance continues. All of the building residents are now ready to teach the intruders a lesson or two if they try something like this in the future. They have become more agitated that the house and its residents have become a part of regular photography expedition by organised groups.
On informing that we are actually more interested about the architecture and would love to photograph the interiors he paused for a moment and informed that next time we must send an official application by means of letter first and depending on the situation he may or may not allow us inside. After this he slowly climbs up the stairs and vanishes in the darkness thus ending our first attempt of photographing the interiors of Putul Bari.
By now it was almost 9.30 AM and I had to rush back to office so we head back to the parking lot, on the way we kept discussing about the impact of a rumour and what negative harm it can do for us bloggers and photographers. We did not see any ghost but saw the reality actually, and this is the reason why I am writing this blog to tell you all that the ghost of Putul Bari are actually missing permanently perhaps were never actually present in the first place.