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Pagoda of Henry Martyn Serampore

Henry Martyn Pagoda

The Danes arrived in Serampore in 1755, with a royal firman from Ali Vardi Khan, Nawaab of Bengal. Along with the Danish East India Company, began the influx of missionaries, among them, the well-known Serampore trio of Joshua Marshman, William Carey, and William Wade.

The abandoned Radhaballav Jiu's temple had become part and parcel of the grounds of a squat little bungalow called Aldeen House. This was purchased by Brown in 1803, and three years later, there arrived in Serampore, from Cornwall, England, Henry Martyn, who had come to India to “burn out for God”. Martyn had asked Brown for a secluded place in which to live and pray, and Brown had pointed out the abandoned temple to him, which they referred to as a Pagoda.

Martyn, it is believed, managed to make the Pagoda quite habitable, moved an organ into it, and it became the favourite meeting ground for the missionaries of the area. “I prayed out aloud to God and echoes returned from the vaulted roof” Martyn writes, and he was satisfied that he had managed to convert a place of “devil worship” into “Christ’s oratory”.

But Martyn eventually set out for the cantonment town of Cawnpore (now Kanpur), and when Rev. Brown died in 1812, Aldeen House found no takers. What was now Henry Martyn’s Pagoda, was abandoned once again. In 1845, the Pagoda underwent yet another and a rather startling change. It was turned into the “Pagoda Rum Distillery”. Finally, in 1893, the entire area was taken over by the Howrah Waterworks, which allowed both Aldeen House and Henry Martyn’s Pagoda to remain standing, while digging up the grounds to create ponds.

Present Condition:

The Pagoda is in an absolutely derelict state, a Peepul tree has completely covered it’s roof, and the entire structure is tilting towards the river. Old lithographs also show terracotta ornamentation which has been destroyed. Aldeen House is also visible a short distance away, also derelict, and overgrown with vegetation.

#source  - Blog by Dipanjan Ghosh

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