Monday, November 06, 2006

Churches of Dhaka

Gate of Church, old and new church (below)

Holy Rosary Church Dhaka: In the heart of Dhaka, on a vast area of land in Tejgaon that was allowed by the the then Mughal Subahder, stands the old building of the Holy Rosary Church, a parish cultivated by the Holy Cross Fathers and Sisters. It is believed to be the oldest church in the Indian sub-continent once known as 'The mother of Churches.' The inscription on the pinnacle of the old Church shows a date numerals 1677, built by the Portuguese Augustinian missionaries but many believe it was built in the 16th century. (In 1628, they established a church, called the ‘Church of the Assumption’, in Narinda, southern part of the Dhaka city. But the church doesn't exist this days). So this church is popularly known to be the oldest church of the city. In 1610, when Dhaka became the Mughal capital of Bengal, European and central Asian settlers came in numbers and built factories in Tejgaon area and later in old Dhaka and Farashganj. Traveler Sebastian Manrique and Travernier visiting Dhaka in the 17th century mentioned the church in their journals. The church measured 210' x 32' x 25' high built with brick and lime-surki on 12 massive columns depicting 12 disciples of Jesus. It had congregation capacity of 800-900.

In the early years of 17th century the Nestorian Christians built the western part as a chapel. The walls are 48 inch thick in this part. The eastern part is 83 feet and 6 inch long and 32 feet and 3 inch wide,the walls are 15 inch wide. There are 12 Tuscan columns holding the central nave from both side. The diameter of the columns is 3 feet. The church contains all the signs of a Basilican church . It has a main long rectangular hall consisting central nave and aisles in both side. It features Hindu, Muslim, Christian and regional architecture style. The church has 5 entries main entry is on east facade and the north and south facade has 2 entries each. The south and northern entries lack any porch. The north and south facade have 9 windows each.

The new church built recently is a large one covers 17,000 sft area and 50' high (91' dome height). It accommodate 1500 plus 500 in veranda. The architecture depicts sea shell in beach (baptism) and 3 slant roof (trinity) following local style.

The Holy Rosary Church premises houses one of the two Catholic cemeteries in Dhaka. More and more Catholics in the new part of Dhaka are buried here. Two schools belonged to this parish, Holy Cross College for the girls and Notrè Dame College for the boys.

Archbishop's House, Kakrail Dhaka: established in 1886 at 1 Kakrail Road, P.O. Box-3, Dhaka 1000, Bangladesh.
Baptist Church Sangha, Sadarghat

Hostel, Liaqat Av. Sadarghat
St. Thomas Church, Dhaka: The official name of this Anglican Church, better known as the St. Thomas Church, is the 'Church of Bangladesh'. Built in 1819, and consecrated two years later by Bishop Reginald Heber of Kolkata (Calcutta), the church premise was in an area of lush greeneries with the famous Bahadur Shah park in a stones throw distance on the south. The north-south axial Nawabpur/Johnson Road, the most important commercial street connecting the old part of the city with the new, was on the west and separated the area from the court, Bank, DC's office and Jagannath College buildings across it. In fact the church overlooking the greens was a major focal of the city centre in the nineteenth century.

It is said that the convicts from Dhaka Jail gave their labour to build this church as well. The attraction of this building, built after the style of the prevalent contemporary Indian Churches, is a clock tower. The rectangular flat-roof steeple rises above the roof in two stages. The arches over the doorway and windows are of Gothic style, while those of the main tower are pointed. The roof used wooden battens on iron joists; the floor have tiles. The delicate stone and brick works of this white plastered building are still as immaculate as it has been for nearly two centuries.

St. Gregory's Church, Laxmibazaar: Located opposite to the old Municipality Office at Laxmibazaar, this church was built in different stages. The original church of the order of the Holy Cross was erected in 1897 probably by a Belgian Father Gregory the Great. It was in French-Gothic style. But the original building collapsed in an earthquake that ravaged Bengal. Afterwards, it was rebuilt, converting the large back verandah into the main prayer hall. The church building, adjacent to the missionary school by the same name, has seven entrances on the west, each one crowned by Gothic arches and coloured glass skylights. The porch on the north-west corner carries a square belfry originally fitted with a clock.

The Armenian Church, Dhaka: The Armenian Church is a historically significant architectural monument situated in the Armanitola area of old Dhaka, Bangladesh. It was established by the Armenian community, to whose former existence the church bears testimony. It is one of the oldest constructions in this city and was built in 1781. The Armenians were rich influential business community. Armenian traders came to the Indian subcontinent in 12th century. After their ample success in trade, Mughal Emperor Akbar permitted them to preach. The area where they lived became known as Armanitola. The Armenian Church in old Dhaka was one of the meeting places for the orthodox Armenian Christians, who observe Christmas on January 7. In the mid-19th century, they numbered no more than about 40 families. Because of their close business ties with the British East India Company, many Armenians became rich 'zamindars' with palatial houses. The church in Armanitola, in the heart of the crowded old city is known an oasis of tranquility. Twice a year the Armenian Archbishop from Australia comes here to hold ceremonies. Mother Teresa during her visit to Dhaka in 1996, stayed in this compound. The Church has a chapel with a balcony and the original wooden seat for 100 people. The ground cover nearly a hectare and is paved with 350 old graves stones, some quite ornately carved. Judging by the ages of those buried here, it seems that the local climate suit the Armenians.

Note: (Christian Cemetery at Narinda, Dhaka)


Unknown said...

Thanks a lot for the post....i was very much hesitated to come to dhakka i have decided to take the assignment...

Anonymous said...

Thank u so much Uncle for this wonderful helpful thing.
May GOD bless u n give u eternal life.

Unknown said...

Armenian Church comment: I lived in Dhaka in the early part of the 1960s, my father was on a USAID project and my mother who had very strong artistic interests, used to take me to the Armenian Church and we would do 'rubbings' of the old tomb stones. I stayed several times in the house in the compound which I thought was a bit eerie, sleeping next to a big graveyard. My mother was also born from an Armenian father who escaped to America from the start of the genocide in Turkey in the 1890s.

Anonymous said...

Hi Grant, You will be sorry with the present condition (locked under key) of the church. The lone living custodian (Armenian) gone few years ago there is none to look after.

Unknown said...

would anyone know if there is any archive or listing of who was buried in the cemetery?

Anonymous said...

I am hoping to go to Dhaka and would like to look round the cemetery and look up the birth, death and marriage registers. Will this be possible and to whom would I have to get in touch.

ehsanul.pianist said...

you first need to meet Mr. Martin who lives in the compound & is the sole caretaker. he mostly stays out throughout the day & u may need to wait several hours for his arrival. the main reason for the Church being under lock & key is the fear of destruction by the major religious community of the country. basically, for ANYTHING in fact, permission needs to be taken from Mr. Martin. things are easy if you're a foreigner in Bangladesh. i was very lucky to have photographed some very old gravestones there. the Church really needs some attention & love, which it will never get from the people of Dhaka.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Shamir An for your help. Is there any way that I can contact Mr Martin, maybe send a letter or a note mentioning that I would be in the area.
I saw some photos of grave stones in the cemetary that is why I want to visit as my ancestors graves are there. Thank you for the photos of my ancestors

liz chater said...

Hi, I realise these postings were some time ago but I noticed that one post by Grant asked if there were any archives or listings of the graves at the Armenian Church in Dhaka.

I thought you all might be interested to know that my website contains many photographs and transcriptions of Armenian graves in India, including Dhaka. In fact, a couple of years ago, I commissioned a local photographer in Dhaka, gained permission from Mr. Martin, and arranged for the whole cemetery to be photographed. I now have the photos and completed the transcriptions of the graves, all of which are on my website. To go directly to the Dhaka page the link is

I do hope this work helps someone.

Best wishes
Liz Chater

liz chater said...

Hi, sorry forgot to mention that you don't actually need to go to the church to look up the birth marriages and deaths registers.

Find your local LDS (Latter Day Saints) Family History Centre - website The centres are all over the world. Then you can order the BMD Film of the Armenian Church Dhaka registers. The film number you need is 1356948 item 3.

This film contains
Births: 1831-1978
Marriages: 1836-1979
Deaths: 1833-1981

There will be a small charge for the film and you can only view it at a Family HIstory Centre. As I said in my previous message, most of the deaths/burials are on my website.

Best wishes

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Hi...just to inform you alla that GOD TV a 24x7 christian televison is now avalible in all hte cable TV networks of DHAKA, If anyone watching / getting this channel on there cable TV please email to, thanks...Blessings.........

RST said...

Thanks a lot for your post. It helps me a lot for remembering beautiful memories. and also think that many christian who lives in Dhaka also didn't see all the churches.

Angela Robinson said...

Mr Martin is happy to show tourists round and for the Church of Bangladesh to have services in the church and these used to take place at Epiphany and Easter but I am organising more. The church and its grounds are beautifully cared for by Mr Martin who has a great sense of calling to look after it, despite the activities of those who claim to own the land (ie landgrabbers!) and the constant activities of thieves, who have taken various items including the beautiful Bible in Armenian which had a silver-decorated cover. If you are interested in knowing when services are there, then please find the Church of Bangladesh website for the chaplain to the English speakers - ie me at the moment - Rev Mrs Angela Robinson. June 2012

Anonymous said...

Dear Rev. Robinson it is very good to know that you actively hold services at the Armenian Church in Dhaka and that it continues to be well cared for. I have published a book with photographs of all the graves in the compound, listing the English translations as well as many family trees connected to those buried. I sent a complimentary copy to Mr. Martin last year.
The link is

Please pass on my best wishes to him.

Anonymous said...

I would like to know if this place is open for public for visiting, esp non-christians. Need we get any permission prior to our visit?
And it's sad that we couldn't take due care of an historic place as such.

Ershad Ahmed said...

For non-Christians it would be wise to contact the caretaker of churches for permission of visit. The more active churches are in Kakrail, Eskaton, Gulshan-2 and Tejgaon.

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Anonymous said...

Goodmorning Does anyone know if there are Catholic Masses in English in Dhaka ON SUNDAY MORNING?
Please if you know leave a post here with mass time and name of teh church Many thanks!

Ershad Ahmed said...

Reference your above. The catholic church at Banani (plot 9, Road 27), Dhaka east of Banani Muslim graveyard holds mass in English on the following days and hours:

Sunday: 18.00 hrs
Saturday: 18.30 hrs
Monday and Friday: 06:30 hrs.

May contact Rev. Emmanuel of the church, (phone: 01711419021).

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ahmed what about Masses in the morning? even if they are in bangla I would like to attend anyway. Any catholic Masses around 12 ?
I know there is one at Banani at 10.
I would relaly appriciate if you could let me know.( For example do you know time schedule at Holy Rosary Church?
Many thanks in advance for your kind assistance

Ershad Ahmed said...

Dear Anonymous,

‘Mass Time’ Schedule of some Catholic Churches in Dhaka:

1. Holy Rosary Church, Tejgaon, Dhaka

Daily Mass (Mon-Fri): 6:15 AM (in Bengali)

Weekend Mass:
Saturday: 6:15 AM, 5:15 PM,( in Bengali), 6:45 PM (in English)

Sunday: 6:15 AM, 7:15 AM, 8:15 AM, 9:15 AM, 4:30 PM, 6:00 PM (all Bengali)

2.Holy Cross Church, Laxmibazar, Dhaka
Daily Mass (Mon-Fri): 6:00 AM (in Bengali)

Weekend Mass:
Saturday: 8: 00 AM, 6:30 PM (in Bengali)
Sunday: 5:00 PM(in Bengali), 6:30 PM (in English)

3. Archdiocese of Dhaka, Bandel Road, Patharghata, Dhaka

Daily Mass (Mon to Fri): 6:30 AM (all Bengali)

Weekend Mass:
Saturday: 4:30 PM
Sunday: 7:30 AM, 9:00 AM, 10:30 AM, 12 PM

Confession: 3:30 PM-4:15 PM

Anonymous said...

Dear Ershad Thank you very much indeed. It 's 3. Archdiocese of Dhaka, Bandel Road, Patharghata, Dhaka far from the center of Dhaka (downtown?)
pleaase let me know. Thanks a lot
Best Regards

Ershad Ahmed said...

Sorry, couldn’t locate the address mentioned in the website. But St. Mary’s Cathedral known as Ramna Cathedral is located in the same compound of Archbishop’s Residence at 1, Kakrail Road, Dhaka-1000. It is right in the heart of Ramna. (Phone : +88029358247. Mobile : 8801715327029,01716051449).
Masses are held:
Mon-Fri: 6:00 AM (in Bengali)
Sat: 6:00 PM (in English)
Sun: 6:00 AM, 9:00 AM & 5:00 PM (in Bengali)

Unknown said...

Mr. Ahmed,

I will be arriving in Dhaka in the early afternoon coming from Thailand. Will there be a Priest available to hear confessions before the 6:45 PM Mass this Saturday on 16 August?

Thanks, Tim

Ershad Ahmed said...

Hi Tim,
Please contact Kakrail, Tejgaon, Banani and Laxmibazar catholic churches noted above for info:

Holy Cross Church (1897)
82, Municipal Office Street
Luxmibazar, Dhaka-1100
Phone : (00-88-02) 711 1281
Rev. Edmond Cruze : Pastor
Mobile : 01715-071932
E-mail :
Rev. Amol Augustine Rozario : Assistant Pastor
Mobile : 1719-3109035
E-mail :
Rev. James T. Banas
Mobile : 01715-778633
E-mail :
Rev. Lawrence N. Das Residence
Mobile : 01715-223036
E-mail :

Anonymous said...

please include Dhaka Seventh Day Adventist church
Facebook Link:

Anonymous said...

Please contact me 01718445166

Unknown said...

Hello. Thanks for the article. I am a Bangladeshi, who lives in a beautiful Portuguese island called Madeira. I am a civil engineer, responsible for amplification and remodeling of several Christian Church in Madeira.
I know that the Portuguese foundation called "Fundação Gulbenkian" did recuperation of the old Church that was built by the Portuguese Augustinian missionaries, some few years ago.
I am going to visit Bangladesh with my two sons and there mother, who is a Portuguese, on march 2016. I will visit this Church with them.
I would like to know if there are any more sign of Portuguese presence in Bangladesh, that we can visit. Can some one help?

Anonymous said...

Yes, the Holy Cross Church in Farm Gate and then the Church in Nagori - from Tongi towards Kaliganj.

Very Rev. Fr. Zaven Yazichyan, M.A. Coun. Psy. said...

On 22nd January 2016, being invited by Mr. Armen Arslanian, Warden of the Armenian Church of the Holy Resurrection of Dhaka, Very Rev. Fr. Zaven Yazichyan, Pastor of Armenians in India and Manager of Armenian College and Philanthropic Academy (ACPA), Kolkata accompanied by the staff & students of ACPA viz., Deacon Varazdat Kocharyan, Mrs. Aznive Joakim, administrator cum secretary, Mr. Sevil Arakelyan, Choir Master, Ms. Rafat Ekram, legal advisor cum advocate; and David Gevorgyan and Artur Baghdasaryan, visited the Armenian Church of the Holy Resurrection of Dhaka, Bangladesh.
The Divine Liturgy was celebrated by His Eminence Bishop Haigazoun Najarian, the Primate of the Armenian Diocese in Australia and New Zealand with the assistance of Very Rev. Fr. Zaven Yazichyan.
At the conclusion of Divine Liturgy Bishop Haigazoun Najarian and Father Zaven Yazichyan performed the ceremony of the Blessing of the Water. The Godfather of the Holy Cross was Mr. Armen Arslanian.
Father Zaven Yazichyan congratulated the Godfather on the occasion and presented mementos to treasure this day.
There were almost one hundred attendees including Armenians who are currently in Dhaka for business as well as from all over the world who came specially to participate in this historical event. The great benefactor of the Armenian Church, Hayk Didizian and his son Hagop Didizian, Henri Arslanian, Khajak, Sandra Kwee Basmadjian, Ashot Tunian and other dignities from various parts of the world attended the church service.
Later that day, the Honorable Minister of Cultural Affairs of Bangladesh, Mr. Asaduzzaman Noor, paid a courtesy visit to meet the Armenian community in Bangladesh and to personally see the present condition of the church.
Mother Teresa stayed in the church compound during a 1996 visit to Dhaka.
It is a happy coincidence that the very same day Bangladesh Ambassador presented his credentials to the Armenian President. At the meeting they stressed the importance of strengthening the Armenian-Bangladeshi cooperation in the framework of international structures.
The Armenian Church of Dhaka was built in 1781 in Armanitola, then a thriving business district. Although the Armenian presence in South Asia is now insignificant, their presence in Dhaka dates back to the 17th century. Armenian merchants came to Dhaka for business and traded in jute and leather. Subsequently the profitability in these businesses convinced some to settle down in Bangladesh permanently. The area where they lived came to be known as Armanitola.

With love and prayers
Very Rev. Fr. Zaven Yazichyan, M.A. Coun. Psy.
Pastor of Indian-Armenian Spiritual Pastorate
Manager of Armenian College and Philanthropic Academy and
Davidian Girls’ School of Kolkata
Ph: (+9133)40109051
Fax: (+9133) 22275869
E mail: