MNA Feature Desk: The Armenian Church (also known as Armenian Apostolic Church of the Holy Resurrection) is a historically significant architectural monument situated in the Armanitola area of old Dhaka, Bangladesh. The church bears testimony to the existence of a significant Armenian community in the region in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Following the domination of their homeland by Persian powers of the time, Armenians were sent by their new rulers to the Bengal region for both political and economic reasons. Although the Armenian presence in South Asia is now insignificant, their presence in Dhaka dates back to the 17th century. Armenians came to Dhaka for business.
In Dhaka, Armenians merchants traded in jute and leather, and profitability in these businesses convinced some to move permanently to Bangladesh. The area where they lived became known as Armanitola.
In 1781 the now famous Church was built on Armenian Street in Armanitola, then a thriving business district. The site was an Armenian graveyard before the church was built, and the tombstones that have survived serve as a chronicle of Armenian life in the area.
Agaminus Catachik, an Armenian, gave away the land to build the church. Michel Cerkess, Okotavata Setoor Sevorg, Aga Amnius, and Merkers Poges helped build the church.
In the fifty years following the church’s construction, a clock tower was erected on its western side. Allegedly, the clock could be heard four miles away, and people synchronised their watches with the sound of the tower’s bell. The clock stopped in 1880, and an earthquake destroyed the tower in 1897.
The Armenian played a prominent part in the jute trade in Dhaka and are reputed to be the pioneers of that trade in the second half of the 19th century.Today, the last Armenian that takes cares of the church is Mikel Housep Martirossian (Micheal Joseph Martin). He was also one of the Armenian who was in the jute trade.
The church is 750 feet (230 m) in length. It has 4 doors, 27 windows. The main floor is divided into three parts: a pulpit enclosed by railings, a middle section with two folding doors, and an area separated by a wooden fence for seating.
There is a spiral staircase into the second floor of the church. Beside of this there was a watch house. It was built by johans paru piyete sarkis. The house broke down by an earth quake in 1897. There was a square tower in between the church.
Today, the church is usually closed. It has been the subject of BBC and AFP documentaries. It has been recognized as a heritage site under the jurisdiction of the Department of Archaeology, Bangladesh.