Be it soccer legend Diego Maradona, tennis star Martina Hingis or
football World Cup hero Diego Forlan - they have all visited the
plain two-storey Missionaries of Charity headquarters here that
houses Mother Teresa's grave. It's a must-see for foreign tourists
visiting eastern India even 13 years after her death.
Sep 5, 1997, was the day she died. The selfless nun who migrated
from Albania to India and devoted her life to the old, the
abandoned and the ailing continues to draw foreigners by the
Tourists from Asia, Europe and North America spend quality time at
Mother House - the global headquarters of the Catholic Order
Missionaries of Charity founded by the Nobel laureate.
Apart from paying obeisance before Mother Teresa's three-foot-high
cement grave on the ground floor of the whitewashed building in
central Kolkata, the visitors pray with the sisters and are
awestruck by the details of her vast work and service to the
"Mother House contributes majorly to the tourism sector. We get a
good chunk of tourists from foreign locations who come to this
part of the country only for Mother Teresa. That brings a lot of
foreign exchange to the country," Anil Punjabi , Travel Agent
Federation of India chairman (eastern India), told IANS.
Irish woman Gobrait, in her late 20s, finds peace in Mother House.
Whenever she comes to the city, she pays a visit to the Lower
Circular Road dwelling.
"This is my third visit to the city, and the third visit to the
Mother House...it is a peaceful place...Sitting in front of
Mother's tomb stone gives a lot of peace," Gobrait said minutes
after praying at the grave.
The tomb bears St. John's Biblical saying: "Love One Another As I
Have Loved You".
Argentine soccer great Maradona, during his trip to the city in
December 2008, made it clear that visiting the Missionaries of
Charity headquarters was one of the major reasons why he agreed to
come to faraway Kolkata.
"I wanted to see what Mother Teresa has done in this city. So I
want to utilise this trip to visit Mother House," Maradona had
Mother Teresa - born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu in Skopje, Macedonia,
Aug 26, 1910, to an ethnic Albanian family - made Kolkata her home
and workplace for 68 years since 1929. She was given the Nobel
Peace Prize in 1979.
"Most of the enquiries come from France and Spain. Of late people
from other European countries have started coming to visit Mother
House. Some queries have started coming from Canada and the US
also," Punjabi said.
Most of those who visit this place are Roman Catholics. Around
800-1,000 foreigners visit every month.
"We help them with all necessary information," he said.
Fadi Najim and Tony Lattouf, both from Lebanon, are students of
theology who came to pay a visit to Mother House.
"We are here for her 100th birthday celebrations," Najim said. Her
birth centenary celebrations started Aug 26 - the day of her
West Bengal Tourism Minister Manabendra Mukherjee said Mother
Teresa occupies a central place in the state government's plans to
draw potential tourists.
"When we pitch for Kolkata tourism, we mention Mother Teresa as
one of the Nobel laureates from the state along with others,"
Mukherjee told IANS.
Missionaries of Charity has 765 houses across the world now, with
245 centres in India and 520 abroad. It is present in 137
countries. The number of serving sisters is around 5,029.
Geeta Rodrigues, a disciple of Mother Teresa, said: She and Mother
House have become a pilgrimage for many tourists. People across
the world know about her great works. And so they make it a point
to see the epicentre of her work when they visit this part of
Gupta can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)