The Persians arrived in India well before the birth of Christ and settled on the western coast. With time, they started to settle in Calcutta about 200 years ago. They are Zoroastrians, worshipper of fire, and the holy flame eternally burns in the Parsi Fire Temples. These temples are out of reach of the non Persians.
It is said that, Dadabhai Behramji Banaji of Bhagvandi of Surat was the first important Parsi to be in Calcutta. One of his relatives, Rustomji Cowasjee Banaji came to Calcutta in early 19th century, and apart from being a prominent citizen, he founded a Fire Temple at 26 Ezra Street in 1839, which is now almost dilapidated and is encroached upon by the greedy business units of the locality. Ridiculously, despite the Government of West Bengal declared it as a heritage building, nothing has been done so far to evict the unauthorized encroaches and to preserve the building from being ruined.
The temple, constructed in Gothic style with huge Tuscan pillars and dentil ornamentation, is now decaying silently in the heart of a throbbing city. It remained neglected for a prolonged period and is now in a remorseful condition. Plasters are peeling off at random from each and every wall, the marbles on the floor have been stolen and vegetation growth has weakened the entire structure. Every inch of the building, including the temple basement, has been encroached upon by the unscrupulous business units. Today, even the gate of the building can scarcely be seen from the road.
The temple, built by Rustomjee Cowasjee Banajee, was inaugurated on the 16th of September 1839. A trustee was formed on 19th December 1842, with the object that the temple would be maintained from the procured fund of the rents and profits, earned from the Rustomji’s bazaar lying at Beliaghata. However, due to the dispute in the said trust and the consequent legal battle, the temple had to close its door unceremoniously sometime in the 1980s. As there was nobody to look after the building, the clever business units of the locality did not miss to grab the opportunity and encroached the building almost immediately. Today the holy shrine has become a chaotic market of electrical goods. But, as one of Calcutta's most unique heritage sites, it deserves to be restored, without further negligence.