Chandannagar is a beautiful town located(once French ruled) in Hooghly,West Bengal,India and is the a scene to battles as well scenic beauty.This is rather interesting since I have been there in my childhood,passing through by train.The only thing what I knew about the place was that in British times locals committing crimes escaped to the town and were under protection.This was so because the surrounding area was under British Jurisdiction.
Chandanagar is two words Chandan’ meaning Moon and Nagore meaning city.Another reason as told by the locals is that Sandalwood was found in this area.Chandan is the Bengali name for Chandanagar.
The town was purchased from the Mughal Subedar for amount of 40,000 coins by the French in 1688.
Fig 1.0: Chandannagar Strand.
The Hooghly district is well known for many reasons and history is very interesting.But locals might not think of it so special.Until you think of the fact that going to Europe is somewhat difficult for many in this area.But a mini Europe was in this district bout 350 years ago!Despite having roots in this place I was surprised!Huh in this place,just unbelievable.This area is quite peaceful and people until recently were quite content in living their surroundings.They do not have that much high ambition of leaving this place for their higher ambition.An incident is of a Bengali professor who after completing his doctorate in Houston,Texas,USA. wanted to return to Bengal.(India).This was in contrast to Bengalis in Bangladesh who usually opted to stay in US.It is like they are home sick.The area has some sort of peaceful,relaxed atmosphere which is missed by its citizens when they leave this place.
In British times,people used to come to this town for its well known hospital.
The interesting fact about Hooghly is that few European powers were in this area.
In Bandel were the Portuguese stationed.
In Serampore were the Dutch stationed.
In Chandanagar were the French and the rest was British.Wonder why they dont have much European restaurants in Hooghly :).
The above towns(now cities,at that time were villages 1600s that is) are in Hooghly district,They all have train stations lying in the route from Howrah to Bardhaman(Spelled Burdwan).
The distance from Howrah to Hooghly district is 51 km.
From Serampore to Chandannagar is 18.7 Km. After that comes Chandannagar.
It is about 9.1 km from Bandel.
The distance from Bandel to Khanyan is 16.5 Km.Khanyan a small town is located 5 minutes by vehicle from Itachuna Rajbari .This is where the Maratha warriors (dacoits by the local people) settled in the land they came to raid.Well they became benevolent rulers and this benefit was seen from the local people in regards to education and communication.Itachuna Rajbari is a mansion of the Zamindars known as Kundans or Kundu.Boy I got know after the invention of the internet and they happen to be neighbours of my uncles!.
Figure 1.1 :The road to Sacred Heart Church at Chandannagar,Hooghly,India.
Besides historical buildings the place has a pleasant atmosphere for having an afternoon stroll.It might remind you of some places in Europe.I took a person known to me professionally to this place.He was very impressed with this place that he came back again in the evening since in the day time it was very hot.Advice would be not to go in the summer.
War broke between the British and the French in Europe.Well so it did here also.There was a battle between the British and French in Hooghly.It was known as battle of Chandanagar.
The best time to visit this place or Kolkata is around November to February.Otherwise it really gets hot and you cannot enjoy the history behind this place.As it takes little patience having a walk around.
Places to visit in Chandanagar :
- The Chandannagar Strand.Sightseeing and having cool breeze coming from the Hooghly river.
- The Sacred Heart Church
- The French Museum. Well it was residence of the French Governor.
I had a visit to the Museum,felt like so much history I don’t know and about an area where my matrimonial roots are from.I thought I knew this area well,boy was I wrong.!
The locals should really study the history of Hooghly as it rich in History as well as scenic beauty.
Here are some pictures from the Museum:
Plan of Chandanagar 1720’s.
How to go there:
From Airport:It will cost 500-600(less than US$9)Indian Rupees.Well used to cost about 300 Rupees in the 1980s .The distance is about 51 Km roughly.Well distance is by train,cant say about road.
From Howrah (best option)
Time taken:45 minutes.
Cost :0.20US$(20 Indian Rupees)
Trains are found at a frequency 15 minutes from Howrah to Hooghly.Howrah is the main train station located in Kolkata,West Bengal.It is like what Heathrow Airport is to London,but it is a train station.All trains that go out of Bengal and come in must stop in Howrah.The Howra Bridge is also a landmark to stop by.Well if you travel by train you are definitely coming to see the bridge any way.
Website for Indian Railways:https://www.irctc.co.in
Note:PNR is a unique identification number used in Train tickets.Foreigners with foreign passports will get preference and quick service in cases where tickets are scarce.This is not the case here.
Where to Eat
Well there are few restaurants but would advise take some lunch with you.