Website Category: Madagascar and Mauritius
Area: 0.2 km2
Criteria: (vi) association with belief system
Location and Values: Aapravasi Ghat comprises a collection of dockside buildings in the port area of Port Louis, the Mauritian capital. It’s a small site, with a few restored buildings that served as a reception and registration centre for indentured labourers arriving from India. As the slave trade was drawing to a close, the British chose Mauritius, in 1834, as a new centre for the establishment of a system of indentured ‘free’ labour. An estimated 500,000 Indian labourers were brought into Mauritius through Aapravasi Ghat to serve in the Island’s sugar-cane fields or be trans-shipped to other areas including Reunion Island, Australia, Africa and the Caribbean. The indentured labour system that was pioneered here became much more widely adopted, creating a worldwide diaspora.
The small collection of restored buildings that can be seen today include sheds and bathroom facilities for the newly arrived immigrants, officers quarters, a small hospital and offices. An interesting account of the history of the site provided by the Aapravasi Ghat Trust Fund can be downloaded as a pdf document here.
Slideshow of the Aapravasi Ghat: The slideshow features a series of photos provided by Corinne Forest, on behalf of the Aapravasi Ghat Trust Fund and Mauritius National Archives. It starts with an aerial view of the Ghat, showing its location in the harbour of Port Louis. There are plans showing the layout of the site and a view of the restored hospital block from the road outside. There is an old drawing of the immigration depot keeper's quarters, and photos of the restored hospital block, and the steps leading from the harbour onto the Ghat. Three photos from the indentured immigrants register show the appearance of a selection of immigrants, then the fireplace in the officers kitchen, the immigrants toilet facilities and a sketch of the immigrants kitchen with a photo of the foundations of this facility as they can now be seen. The final few photos show the site restoration work and the care that has been taken to prepare crushed lime 'argamasse' in traditional manner and replace the modern pointing between the stone work of the old buildings. The slideshow ends with another picture of the restored hospital block.
Slideshow of the Aapravasi Ghat:
Google Earth View: To view satellite imagery of this site on Google Earth, click here. This opens a new window, so when you are finished, just close the Google Earth page and you will be straight back here to continue browsing other world heritage sites around Africa. It is difficult to distinguish the historically important buildings in this view, as they are located in the heart of a busy harbour area, but the satellite view gives a good idea of the modern context of the place in the heart of Port Louis.
Other Links: Official UNESCO Site Details