Home > Day Trips from Calcutta (Kolkata), General, Travelogue > Chandannagar ~ A slice of France

Chandannagar ~ A slice of France

About 100 years after Vasco da Gama landed in the west cost of India the European traders started making inroads into Bengal. Bandel became a stronghold of the Portuguese while the Danes and the Dutch had their supremacy in Srerampur and Chuchura respectively.

Chandannagor was the French colony. Unlike the other European colonies of Bengal the French control of Chandannagar continued even after independence and it was only in 1950 Chandannagar became a part of India.

Once a beautiful town with French masons and boulevards, Chandannagar has lost most of its past glory. Today it represents a crowded unplanned town on the Howrah – Burdwan main line. A few of the French buildings have passed the test of time and can still be seen today reminding one of the French days of Chandannagar, offering a French holiday with a distinctive Bengali twist.

Left: Dupleix Palace (now museum), Right: French Fort (now court)

Left: Dupleix Palace (now museum), Right: French Fort (now court)

The largest concentration of colonial building is along the Hooghly and is known as The Strand, and is still considered as the most beautiful stretch along the entire Hooghly.

Sacred Heart Church, Chandannagar

Sacred Heart Church, Chandannagar

Just off The Strand is the Sacred Heart Church, on of the prime attraction of Chandannagar. A statue of Jesus greats the visitors to the two storied church complete with twin towers. A marble plaque says that the church was inaugurated by Father Goethals on 27 January 1884.

Interior has beautiful stained glasses and walls contain coloured reliefs of Jesus carrying the cross. Long corridors and confession boxes add a dignity to the church interior. Sadly the church is not well maintained with plasters peeling off at several places.

Stained Glass, Sacred Heart Church, Chandannagar

Stained Glass, Sacred Heart Church, Chandannagar

The Chandnnagar Strand is dominated by the Durgacharan Rakshit Ghat. Built in 1920s in honor of Durgacharan Rakshit, the recipient of the French award of Legion d’honneur. The elegant looking pavilion consists of slender columns with decorative stucco works consisting of elephant’s head and floral design.

Left: Durgacharan Rakshit Ghat, Chandannagar Right: Details of stucco work

Left: Durgacharan Rakshit Ghat, Chandannagar Right: Details of stucco work

Chandannagar Gate

Chandannagar Gate

Also along the river lies the Duplex’s Mansion, now the Chandannagar Museum & Institute, housing a rare collection of French artifacts, including personal collection of Duplex, the French Governor of Chandannagar.

Just in front of the museum is an elegant mansion called the Patal Bari (Underground House) as a portion of the house is submerged by the Hooghly River. The Patal Bari, with is beautiful wooden sunshades and decorative water outlets, has a long list of distinguished visitors including Rabindranath Tagore & Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar.

Nandadulal Temple, Chandannagar

Nandadulal Temple, Chandannagar

The northern and southern entry point to Chandannagar is marked is marked with two entry gates. The northern gate no longer exists but the southern gate, although encroached by banners and festoons can still be seen today. The gate consists of two square pillars topped with urns. Inaguarated on 14 July 1937, in memory of the fall of Bastille, which tiggered off the famous French Revolution. The gate contains the slogan of French Revolution “Liberte, Egalite & Fratarnite” which translated into English is “Liberty, Equality & Fraternity.”

Buroshivtala Terracotta Temple

Buroshivtala Terracotta Temple

Although a French Colony for 275 years (1678 – 1950). The heritage of Chandannagar is not restricted to French architecture only. The town also houses several temples, including Nandadulal Temple. Standing on a rectangular base of 52 feet by 21 feet it is the largest do – chala (double sloped roof) temple of Bengal. Sadly apart from a few lotus motifs it totally lacks terracotta work, which is the trade mark of Hooghly Temples.

Hooghly is famous for its terracotta temples, and Chandannagar is no exception so terracotta enthusiasts shouldn’t be disheartened as the Boro Shvtala area of Chandannagar houses a spectacular nine pinnacled terracotta temple.

The temple has triple arch entrance of two sides along with intricate terracotta panels. The two side entrances of the triple arched entrance on both side are false and only the central arch entrance operates. The temple also houses a giant Shiva – Linga.

Reference:

  • Hooghly Jelar Purakirti by Narendranath Bhattacharya

Links from my website:

List of my Blog entry on West Bengal

  1. bomadg
    April 25, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    nice….thanks for the correct spelling ( e.g. Chuchura )

    • April 25, 2012 at 12:27 PM

      Thanks Bomadg (sorry I don’t know your name) fro visiting my Blog and also for your comments. I always try to keep the spellings according to the local pronunciation.

  2. Claire Clark
    February 3, 2013 at 5:19 PM

    please can you tell me what happened to the hotel de paris that was once in chandannagar cant find any thing about it, my great grand parents owned it, think it is now the court house, please can you help me find out what happened to them and the hotel. they were Called Beattie. thank you so much Claire

    • Biswarup
      April 25, 2014 at 2:17 PM

      Hotel de Paris is now the Chandernagore Sub-divisional court🙂 … Welcome to
      Chandernagore

  3. indrani dutta
    December 28, 2013 at 3:16 PM

    Hullo Mr Dutta, We met earlier this yr at the Wetlands Walk
    Found yr blog on Chandernagore quite helpful. What do u think would be the best car route from north city and how long would it take. Would be taking a group of relatives mostly senior citizens. u said the museum is closed on Sundays.. trust it to be so in our city ! is that the Dupleix House. What are the best lunch options ?

  4. December 28, 2013 at 11:03 PM

    Thanks Ms Dutta for your comment, it nice catching up with people you thinks about the city they live in.

    The best option from North is to take the Bally Bridge and the GT Road.

    The Duplex House is the museum, which is closed on Sundays.

    Chandannagar has some basic eateries, also you can try the dhabas on route. Carry water and some snacks and dry food.

  5. November 17, 2014 at 10:58 PM

    Hi Rangan.. Accidently came across your blog while casually surfing & i must admit.. i got hooked to it !! Nice narratives & definately wants me to explore West Bengal more ! The French, British & Dutch left behind beautiful legacies & unfortunately; we still dont realise the importance of it. Poor neglect, unplanned growth, greed & corrupt officials and netas are destroying the heritage… Looking forward to reading many more blogs ! suhas katti

    • November 17, 2014 at 11:02 PM

      Thanks Suhas, I am glad that you liked my blog. Inspirational comments like these are a huge source of motivation.

  6. Sanjay Bhanja Chaudhuri
    July 19, 2016 at 12:12 PM

    Looking for good books for Chandernagar history(Bengali Verson only) also very much eager to visit a French colony soon.Want to know timing of Museum

    • July 28, 2016 at 10:31 PM

      The Museum is open from 10 am – 5 pm on weekdays. I am not aware of any Bengali book on Chandanagar but you can try the Hooghly Jela r Purakirti.

  7. payel gupta
    September 20, 2016 at 2:44 PM

    While surfing i came across your blog sir. I want to know as much as possible about the life, culture, social phase of that days. can you suggest me some books.

  8. October 11, 2016 at 12:13 PM

    chandannagar nilkantha Sarkar er kotha keu jante chai na . j prothom French surbent rekhechilo & tar name bagbazar a rasta royeche .

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: