“Chinese Church” also popular as Chinese temple, Why so? Seriously I don’t have any concrete idea. Some says that they were actually Temples but when Chinese started converting into Christianity than started calling as Church. I have referred books for it and even asked many but didn’t get any satisfactory answer for it. Even I have asked Chinese people but our conversation ends with complete dissatisfaction, either they couldn’t understand me or my inability to make them understand. Although, Chinese Church has no relationship with Christianity or when we refer it as a temple has nothing to do with Hinduism. Chinese Church or Chinese Temple is completely related to Chinese Traditional Religion or Chinese Folk Religion.
Like other communities, Chinese were also started migrating to India in the late 18th century, mainly in Calcutta (Now Kolkata) and Madras (Now Chennai), India.The first eminent Chinese and prominent presence of Chinese here in Calcutta was Mr. Tong Achew. The first Governor General of Bengal was Warren Hastings, 1773 to 1785 and during his rule he granted him land to set up a sugar mill. Afterward, Chinese started migrating here and become an integral part of our life. Like other community, they were also started to build Chinese Churches here for offering daily prayer. Chinese of Kolkata, majorly lived in two areas, oldest area is Old Chinatown and the comparatively new area is Tangra. In Old Chinatown (Tiretta Bazar) there are Six number of Chinese Church/Temples.
- Sea Ip Temple
- Sea Voi Yune Leong Futh Temple
- Nam Soon Temple
- Choonghee Dong Thien Haue Temple
- Toong on Temple
- Gee Hing Temple
There is another Chinese Temple in Chandnichowk area in Kolkata and it is not far from Tirettabazar.
- Choong Ye Thong Temple
Sea Ip Temple
Sea IP Temple is located on the main road of Tirettabazar and established in 1882 by the Chinese Shoe makers of Kolkata. Once there was a requirement to repair the temple and the community repaired Sea IP in 1905. This temple was renovated to its present form in 1905 and the reason people wrongly consider this year as the year of establishment. This is a two storied building and very well decorated. The Goddess worship here is Kun Yum or Kuan Yin who is the Goddess of Mercy and also the protector of children. The Goddess is installed on the 1st floor and there are set of Weapons, beautifully crafted Wall hangings and roof hangings. Same types of things can be seen in all the Chinese temples in Kolkata. On the ground floor, there is an assembly hall, which they use it for functions and for other purposes. I went there many times and noticed that on morning time they use it for reading purposes like newspapers and books. The present condition of the surrounding area of the temple is too poor, it’s surrounded by a pool of garbage and by trucks.
Address:- 22/1a Chatawalla Gulle, Kolkata.
Sea Voi Yune Leong Futh Temple
Sea Voi Yune Leong Futh Temple is little hard to locate because it is accommodated of a single room of a building and from outside it is indeed hard to locate. It is located just opposite of Sea IP Church and beginning of Blackburn Lane. This is a very small Church established in 1908 by Chinese carpenters from Sea Voi region of China and still the inhabitants of the building are mostly carpenters. Earlier days, the temple was founded on temporary basis and present structure was erected later on. This is very simple temple and two male Gods are installed, who are brothers. Gods are painted in Black and the attires are very gorgeous. Set of Weapons, wall hanging and roof hangings are also installed inside.
Address:- 17 Blackburn Lane, Kolkata.
Nam Soon Temple
Nam Soon Temple is the oldest Chinese temple of Kolkata, established in 1820 by the Chinese migrated from the Nan-Hai, Fen-U and San Tak regions. In the temple, there are three different Gods named Choi Choi, Sea Fo and Quan Tai are installed and all are painted in black. Apart form these three Gods, the idol of Buddha is also installed. I didn’t witness, Gods of Chinese Folk Religion and Buddha are installed in the same place apart form this temple. The temple is decorated with weapons and roof hanging. Just after the narrow entrance of Nam Soon, there is a huge courtyard. There is an English Medium school adjacent to the main temple and earlier it was Chinese Medium school and presently run by an elderly Chinese lady. She also looks after the temple.This church is located in the dingy lane and very hard to locate especially for the new visitors.
Address:- 13, Damzen Lane, Kolkata.
Choonghee Dong Thien Haue Temple
Choonghee Dong Thien Haue Temple is also an old Chinese temple, established in 1859. It is located at the junction of Damzen Lane and Blackburn Lane, very hard to locate. This temple is housed in the first floor of a huge building but most of the place of the temple have been occupied by the tenants. Even I have noticed newly made rooms on the roof. The God of fortune, Kwan Kun is installed here and prayer is offered on daily basis. It consist in two rooms and housed many Gods. Also decorated with weapons and roof hanging. Gods are installed in both the rooms but a portion of a one room used as a store room by some Chinese Bands, they stored Dragons, Drums etc etc. This temple is not maintained properly and need urgent attention.
Toong on Temple
Toong on Temple is the most popular Chinese Church in Kolkata because on the ground floor of this temple was housed a famous Chinese restaurant named “Nanking”, established in 1924 and this restaurant was the First Chinese Restaurant of Kolkata as well as in India. Unfortunately, it was closed down in early 80’s due to some property dispute. The Nanking Restaurant was favorite of many popular Bollywood stars like Raj Kapoor, Sunil Dutt, Dilip Kumar and also famous Bengali author Sunil Ganguly was a frequent goer. The God is installed here is Kuandee, God of Warrior, holding a big knife. A big sized lord Buddha is installed in the ground floor. One Chinese news paper still publish from Kolkata that I saw first time here. Once this temple was under threat of demolition but undying passion of Mr.Wang Liang Sen Toon and Mr.Li Hon Kaung, they saved it. Presently, they look after the temple. The temple is closed but they allowed visitors on Sunday and on any Chinese occasion like Chinese New Year. Presently the building is surrounded by pool of garbage and sometimes it is really tough to get into the church. Also, the two storied building is in poor condition and really need urgent attention.
Address:- 22, Blackburn Lane, Kolkata.
Gee Hing Temple
Unless you are a champ than it will be very difficult for someone to locate this temple. Gee Hing Temple was established in 1888 and also they have started a Club along with it in 24, Blackburn Lane. But later on, it was shifted to the present location 13, Blackburn Lane in the year of 1920. This temple is housed Chinese God Kwan Kun or Kuan Kun and he is the God of Sea. It remains closed most of the time but I have found that it opens most of the day by the club members. Because they use it on a regular basis for their own purposes. Most of the time they don’t allow visitors. Sometimes they reluctantly allow visitors.
Address:- 13, Blackburn Lane, Kolkata.
Choong Ye Thong Temple
Choong Ye Thong Temple is housed in a three storied building and it is on the second floor. There are many Chinese Gods and Goddess installed in the first room of the temple and in the next room there are two images of another Chinese Gods along with a divine Bird, painted in black. Basically, this temple is not based on a single or particular faith. It is based on many Faiths like Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism are mixed together in one place. Earlier temple was opened on daily basis for worship but now it’s open only on Sunday. Earlier ground floor and first floor housed the Chinese Medium School named Mai Kua Feng Confucian School. Years back the school was closed down because of Chinese here in Kolkata is no more interested in study in Chinese. I went there years back for the first time on an occasion of screening of a documentary film based on Chinese People of India and Film called “Border to Border“.
Address:- 2, Meredith Street (Chandnichowk Approach) Kolkata.
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