Colonial rule in India began in the 15th century when European countries came to India. Among these European countries were countries like France, Dutch, Portugal. The people of these countries came to India intending to do business. After that, the British came to India from other European countries during the 18th century. The British had emerged as a force to suppress the sovereignty of India at that time. The colonial rule of the British over India continued till the middle of the 20th century. Colonial rule in India came to an end when the British returned in 1947 with the help of Our Revolutionaries’ Soldiers. But during that time, the British left behind many buildings which we know today as heritage. This colonial heritage is located in many states of India. Today we will tell you about the colonial heritage in West Bengal.
By the way, there are many buildings in India which represent the colonial heritage. But today, we will talk about the colonial heritage in West Bengal. Some prominent regions represent the colonial heritage in West Bengal. Chandannagar, Chinsurah, Bandal, and Serampore are mentioned in these major areas of the heritage sites in West Bengal. Let us look one by one at these major areas under the heritage sites in West Bengal.
Colonial heritage in West Bengal
Bandel is called mast in Portuguese. A mast is a stable, tall pole, especially in boats, on which the sail is fixed. It was the Portuguese who first came to settle in Bengal. In this way, the Portuguese have the distinction of building the first Christian church in Bengal. This church was built in 1599, but sadly the British demolished it in 1632. After that, this church was rebuilt several times. Thus this church is today popularly known as Bandel Church is one of the heritage sites in West Bengal. It was named Bandel because there is a mast on the premises of this church. It was gifted by a Portuguese captain when the ship’s chest suffered in the storm of Hooghly.
Details from old Dutch records and historical maps indicate that the VOC built Gustavus Fort during the 17th century, at which time Chinsurah was a very prosperous town. The Dutch ruled this place from 1825. The Chinsurah building near Hooghly was built in 1829 with materials from the demolished Dutch fort of Gustava. A marble bar and some Dutch cannons still testify to the colonial heritage in West Bengal. Chinsurah is also known as Chuchura. A short distance from here is the Hooghly Madrasa, which used to be a barrack for Dutch soldiers, which was later used by the British for themselves. Adjacent to this madrasa is a very beautiful colonial garden house.
Serampore is the oldest running university in India to date. It was founded in 1818 by English missionaries known as Serampore. The Danish ruled it till 1845. After that, the Danish government sold it to the East India Company. This university, with its elegant beauty, reminds us of the glory days of Danish. There are two such graveyards in Serampore which have been built by the Danish government. The Kerry Library at Serampore has 16,000 rare volumes and is used by scholars across the world.
Chandan Nagar: Major colonial heritage in West Bengal
Chandan Nagar Strand is considered to be The Most Beautiful Place of Hooghly even today. The French ruled this place. It is one of the oldest heritage sites in West Bengal. Unlike Bandel Church, Chinsurah, and Serampore, Chandan Nagar still promotes French. Even today, French is taught as a third language in many schools in Chandan Nagar.
Chandan Nagar was a French colony till 1950, and many French Havelis can be seen there. Just opposite the Chandan Nagar Strand is the Sacred Heart Church, one of the major attractions of Chandan Nagar. The Durga Charan Rakshit Ghat located here is a fine example of Indo-French architecture. There is a duplex palace built in the 1740s as the residential palace of Joseph Francois Duplex, the former governor of Chandan Nagar. A French museum is also present in the museum here.