Cuttack’s Purighat Police Station Has An Amazing History Attached To It!
The present day Purighat Police Station, on the Ring Road, has a chequered history. Today it is one of the most picturesque Police Station of Cuttack, on the banks of the River Kathjori, neatly kept and well maintained with flowering shrubs and a small garden.
The structure was built sometime in the 1870 CE, right opposite the Purighat, which was a busy crossing point for the pilgrims going to Puri. For seven months of the year, a fair weather road was used, but from June till October, the only way to cross the Kathjori was by boats. The structure was built on the ruins of another old structure which had existed since the Maratha period. The small structure has been called by different names over the last century. It used to be described variously as Ghataghar, Abkari Godam, Salt Inspector’s Office and Puri Ghat Phandi. The old timers still refer it as the Purighat Phandi.
The river Kathjori was not as wide as it is today, it could be easily forded by using just two logs of wood (hence the name Kathjori). The Marathas had made a grant of 200 bighas of land for the maintenance of a regular ferry across the river. The building was primarily made as a rest house for the pilgrims, but over the years it has been used as an opium godown, excise post, police outpost, and the first Regional Transport office of Cuttack before being designated as a full-fledged Police Station which it is today.
The Old Jagannath Sadak, after winding its way inside the city, dead ended at the Ghat. Of the seven ghats at Cuttack, the Purighat was the busiest. The other ghats were the Panch Konia Ghat, Raj Ghat, Lumba Ghat, Bidanasi Ghat, Sahara Ghat and Ganesh Ghat. Most of the people using this Ghat were making their way to Puri; hence it was called the Puri Ghat.
The building has been solidly built; it is a typical flat roofed structure. The six arched verandah in front of the building gives it a colonial look. The originally building was a long hall which was later on divided into rooms. It was on the embankment, with a wide view of the river and the far side. After the embankment height was raised, the building is now at a much lower level. All of the original structure remains. The roof cornices are still intact. The outhouses in the rear have been redone. Some of the wall niches for the oil lamps have been filled in. The old punkahs studs and holes too have been covered up. There used to be a big square well inside the compound, but it has been filled up. Very few of the original louvered doors and windows remain; most of them have been replaced. The original wooden roof beams are still in place, however the roof leaks during the monsoons.
The Puri Ghat Police Station is another important vestige of the old City which has seen transformation with changing times. The police station is slated for demolition to make way for a newer building. It should be preserved as another heritage structure of the old City. Proper conservation work will ensure that the building lasts for another Century.