I distinctly remember, years back when my father gave me history lessons from the school book, he mentioned about a place called Bandel. Ever since then I wanted to learn more about this place.It was March, the weather was still comfortable and the heat was bearable. On a bright Saturday morning, we jumped into our most honorable travel companion, the Swift and started for Bandel, to feel the culture, read the history and share what we will learn.We took the NH-2 highway and reached Dankuni after crossing the Vivekananda bridge at Dakhineshwar. Before reaching Durgapur Expressway, we took the old Delhi road or the GT Road and proceeded towards Bandel covering about 58 kilometers. On our way, I picked up one of my friends who happened to have his uncle's house at Bandel. Who else can give an account as good as a resident of a place. He was our travel guide and we followed him to soak the fantastic history which rests at Bandel.Here we go...Bandel is just like any other town in Bengal. Narrow and crowded streets form the circulatory system of the old town. A motorist has to battle out through a maize of rickshaws, hand carts, buses and people who follow one standard philosophy in life - never look left or right when crossing a road. It is the motorist; whose duty is to stop and let them cross and we patiently bowed to it and reached after 2,1/2 hours.
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The history of Bandel Church is mesmerizing. I am sure it will take your breath away.I have to dip you into a bit of a history to give context to what we saw. In 1498, Vasco Da Gama, a Portuguese explorer came to India and anchored at Calicut or Kozikode in Kerela. Ever since then India had seen Portuguese settlements across the Indian subcontinent. Bandel church has its design from Portugal. One of the oldest churches in India; dedicated to Nossa Senhora do Rosario, Our Lady of Rosary was presented to the visitors in the year 1650 by the Portuguese. It was founded, way back in 1599.Every room, courtyard we visited, pages of history unfolded. It is said that a Portuguese ship met near disaster of getting sunk in the sea. The ship's captain, prayed for safety for his ship and men. He promised to bequeath a mast of his ship to the first church he sees and it was this church which he caught up with. Till today, the mast of that stricken ship can be seen in the church.However, unfortunately we could not see it as the mast was blown away in a local cyclone in 2010. Fables also say that the word "Bandel"possibly, meant "a mast of a ship" in Portuguese. So, this was the background behind the church's name and the name of the place.The best way to explain, perhaps, is to give you a pictorial trip through the church.