Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip 

Tripoto
28th Apr 2019

The roads from the city Kolkata lead into many interesting destinations, to the Himalayas, Bay of Bengal and many other. Some of these destinations are a bit far, but closer to home there are legacies of European rule, architectures from Mughal era and heritages of Hindu dynasty.

My first destination, Banshberia

Temple of Banshberia

Photo of Bansberia, West Bengal, India by saptami ghosh

I started early morning from Kolkata towards the ancient town of Banshberia. An enchanting drive through the Kalayani Expressway had taken me to this city in around two and a half hours.

Photo of Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip by saptami ghosh

The name of the city is related with ‘Bash’ which signifies bamboo. It is believed that a fort was built in this city after clearing a bamboo grove, which had brought this name.

Remains of the old structure

Photo of Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip by saptami ghosh

The town is most famous for its Hanshewari Temple and its amazing architecture. The temple is dedicated to goddess Hanshewari, a form of goddess Kali.

Photo of Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip by saptami ghosh

The most attractive part of the temple is the architecture, which projects thirteen domes in the top, each in the shape of lotus buds. The interior construction of the temple is complicated, as it follows the pattern of the human anatomy.

The temple and its domes

Photo of Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip by saptami ghosh

In the morning, the temple complex is full of devotees. The devotion ceremony of the Goddess was going on, and the entire complex was projecting a holy vibe. The name of the Goddess Hanshewari was given after the mother of Raja Nrisingha Deb Roy, the Zamindar (Lardlord) of this region. He founded this temple after getting a dream of Goddess.

Ananta Basudeva temple

Photo of Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip by saptami ghosh

In the same temple complex, there is another temple of traditional Terracotta style, dedicated to Ananta Basudeva or Lord Krisha. It is built in Ekratna style, with the stories from Indian epics curved in terracotta work at the walls of this temple. This particular temple was established by Raja Mahasai Rameshwar Rai.

The Zamindar Bari

Photo of Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip by saptami ghosh

The main building of the home of the Zamindar family is still standing in the temple complex. Poorly maintained, it lacks the grandeur of old time. Yet, the architectural style is still describing the glory of those day.

Next, the former Portuguese colony Bandel

Photo of Bandel, West Bengal, India by saptami ghosh

My next destination was just half an hour away from the former, the city of Bandel. Unlike the town of Bashberia, Bandel is almost a popular tourist destination, mostly for its famous church. It claims the honor of being one of the oldest Christian Churches of Bengal.

The famous Bandel church

Photo of Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip by saptami ghosh

This town had witnessed the rule of Portuguese settlers. The famous Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama had arrived in this town in the year 1498. The Portuguese traders had had shifted in this town in the bank of Hooghly river around the year 1575, after getting permission from Emperor Akbar.

Photo of Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip by saptami ghosh

The name of the city is linked with the history of the famous Church of the Holy Rosary. The term Bandel signifies ‘Mast’ in Portuguese. After an attack on Portuguese priests by Mughals, they were all set to escape through river Hooghly. Unfortunately, they were captured and the iconic statue of Holy Mary was lost in the river.

Photo of Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip by saptami ghosh

Later, when the priests were taken to the court of Mughal emperor, the main priest was condemned to through infront of a hungry elephant. Miraculously, the elephant didn’t harm him and put him into his back by its trunk. The Emperor realised his mistake and gifted them the land beside Hooghly river to construct new church.

Photo of Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip by saptami ghosh

In the day of inauguration of the church, another Portuguese ship had arrived in Bandel, after surviving from a storm. The captain had promised Holy Mary to donate the Mast of the ship if they survived the storm. Thus, the mast is still residing inside this church and the city was named after it. The lost statue of Holy Mary was magically appeared in the bank of river same day. Honouring these incidents, here she is known as ‘Our Lady of The Happy Voyage’.

The Easter decoration

Photo of Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip by saptami ghosh

It wasn’t my first trip to this church, yet it had mesmerised me like the first time. The Easter was just a few days back, so we got to see the special decorations in the huge church premises. Climbing up through the spiral steps, I arrived the terrace to lit the candle.

The stairs to climb up in the top

Photo of Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip by saptami ghosh

This part offers excellent view of the surrounding area and Ganges river. The detailed history of this church is also described in details with pictures.

Hooghly Imambara

Photo of Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip by saptami ghosh

Located just 1.5 km away from this beautiful church, another important attraction of Bandel is Hooghly Imambara. This grand Islamic structure is a Shia Muslim Mosque and congestion hall. It is also the oldest Imambara in Bengal. Located just beside the river, the Imambara was established by Mohammad Aga Motahar, a Persian merchant.

Photo of Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip by saptami ghosh

The first thing that had mesmerized me even prior to my entry was the famous clock tower. It was possible to climb up the clock tower, which offers excellent view of Imambara and the river Ganges. Honouring the Islamic tradition, the stairs for men and women were separated to climb on the top.

The view from the top

Photo of Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip by saptami ghosh

Climbing almost 300 steps, I had arrived in the top which indeed offered me a majestic view of this structure with the river in background.

Vast corridor

Photo of Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip by saptami ghosh

The vast courtyard, enchanting corridors are the excellent example of architectural splendor. The corridor beside the main building leads towards the river in the backyard of the architecture.

Photo of Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip by saptami ghosh

One of the main attractions of this part is the sun-clock, which was used in the ancient era to determine time prior to the arrival of modern clock.

Sun Clock

Photo of Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip by saptami ghosh

The small river bank is an enchanting place for sitting and watching small boats are passing by. I almost lost the track of time sitting there in the cool breeze of the river. Yet, at one moment I had to get up, to head towards the next destination, Chinsurah.

View of the river

Photo of Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip by saptami ghosh

The city with a Dutch past, Chinsurah

Dutch cemetery

Photo of Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip by saptami ghosh

The stop in the city Chinsurah had to be a quick one, as this city currently has very small remains of the history. Although, it has a glorious history, as it was the home of Gustavus, a fort established by Dutch traders. The fort was known to be the most impressive Dutch creating in entire Asia. It had an entire factory inside along with its huge splendour. This impressive creation was destroyed by the British settlers, as the Dutch traders didn’t support them in the battle of Plassey.

Photo of Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip by saptami ghosh

Nowadays, the city has very few remains of the Dutch history. The Dutch cemetery in the heart of the city is one of them. It was constructed by Dutch East India company for the Dutch citizens. Full of greenery, the cemetery offers peace along with excellent structures. The city had somewhat left me somehow unsatisfied, for not giving me enough Dutch flavour.

Photo of Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip by saptami ghosh

The French affair: Chandannagar

The Sacred Heart church

Photo of Chandannagar, West Bengal, India by saptami ghosh

My next destination Chandannagar had certainly fulfilled the dissatisfaction of the last one. Famous for its Jagadhatri puja and Jolbhora Sondesh(Sweets), this town bears the heritage of French rule. The town was earlier known as Farashdanga, the land of ‘Farasi’, the local adaptation of the word French. This city is still preserving lots of architectural heritage from that era, located mostly in the riverbank.

Chandannagar Strand

Photo of Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip by saptami ghosh

The long stretch of river Ganges which houses these architectural wonders is known as ‘Strand’. The most attractive French edifice is the mansion of French governor James Francois Dupleix. Nowadays, it houses a museum and French institute.

The Dupleix mansion

Photo of Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip by saptami ghosh

Prior to Kolkata, the city Chandannagar used to be the main hub of European trading of the Eastern India. The charming French quarter is still describing the glory of those days. Another main attraction of this quarter is the Sacred Heart church, which portrays typical European architecture.

The Durga Charan Rakshit Memorial

Photo of Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip by saptami ghosh

The stretch of Ganges opposite of the French quarter is the place to sit and enjoy the calm beauty of the river. The charming Durga Charan Rakshit Memorial is an impressive structure which graces the riverbank.

Patal Bari

Photo of Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip by saptami ghosh

At the end of the stretch of Ganges, stands another historic house named ‘Patal Bari’ (House of Dungeon). It is believed, that the river Ganges flows till its dungeon, hence this name. It used to be the holiday retreat of the eminent personalities of Bengal. The famous author Rabindranath Tagore used to come here in search of peace and quiet to create some of his masterpieces.

The Danish charm to end with; Serampore

Photo of Serampore, West Bengal, India by saptami ghosh

By the time I had finished a detailed trip to the French rule and head towards the next destination, I was exceptionally hungry. Therefore, the first place that I searched in town of Serampore was a place to burn down my hunger.

The interior

Photo of Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip by saptami ghosh

Fortunately, the town offers an iconic choice for my trip to search history and heritage. The restaurant Denmark Tavern was all set to serve authentic Danish dishes in a most charming scenario.

The special chicken prepared in Danish style

Photo of Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip by saptami ghosh

Denmark Tavern is a newly restored heritage house from the era of Danish rule in this land. It has a multi-cuisine restaurant which serves Danish cuisine along with native Bengali and Chinese dishes. The interior atmosphere features Bengali traditional style combined with European vibe.

Photo of Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip by saptami ghosh

The famous bakery chain of Kolkata Fluries has a branch in Denmark Tavern. Delicious cakes and coffee can be enjoyed in the inner courtyard of the property.

The inner courtyard

Photo of Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip by saptami ghosh

During 16th and 17th century, the town used to be the trade center for cotton industry. The fertile land around this town used to be perfect for waving cotton and silk. This town was also well-connected, through river Ganges by water and through Grand Trunk Road by road. The Danish traders had setup their own factory for cotton here. The most impressive Danish architecture in this land is St. Olav's Church.

St. Olav's Church.

Photo of Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip by saptami ghosh

The St. Olav's Church is located in a very convenient location, close to the riverbank. The church was almost vacant when I have reached in the late afternoon. The interior was gorgeous with hardwood furniture, all in the dark tone. The church also had a charming courtyard at one side.

Photo of Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip by saptami ghosh

The town of Serampore is also famous for another important festival, Rathajatra of Mahesh. It is the biggest Rathajatra of Bengal, and most important of India just after Puri. Although it was not the time of Rathajatra, I ended up visiting the famous Mahesh temple in mid of town. The temple was not glamorous, but it possessed a typical traditional vibe.

The temple of Mahesh

Photo of Road trip from Kolkata to explore European colonies, historic architectures #Roadtrip by saptami ghosh

The day was tiring, yet very much satisfying. I got to see the European quarter, Islamic architecture not to mention traditional temples at one go. The distance from the city Kolkata was also perfect for a day trip. Awaiting eagerly for the native festivals, to see the known towns are converting into more attractive ones!!!

Be the first one to comment