Going Dutch to revive Chinsurah, India’s Europe on Ganges
A 20km stretch of the Hooghly riverfront on Kolkata’s west bank is set to undergo a major restoration and revival exercise, thanks to the Dutch, the Danish and the French.
The land strip — between Serampore and Bandel in Hooghly district, also known as ‘Europe on the Ganges’ — is dotted with several prominent tourist spots that draw thousands of foreign tourists.
To start with, a website promoted by the Dutch government — detailing the Dutch history of Chinsurah, including old documents and photographs of the existing structures — will go online by April. Three months later, a French website — showcasing the heritage of the former French colony — will go online.
Subsequently, some of the several Danish architectures in and around Serampore — that are currently in a dilapidated state — will be restored to their original 17th century form. This will be part of a watershed project of the National Museum of Denmark.
“We’ve documented almost all remnants of Dutch heritage in this region. We’ve digitised several important documents in the possession of the district magistrate. The Dutch government is keen to promote and conserve the heritage of Chinsurah,” Delhi-based architect Aishwaria Tipnis, who executed the project, told HT.
“This belt has immense tourism potential. The only requirements are conservation of some of the heritage structures and a minimum tourism infrastructure. A package tour of the entire stretch is quite viable because of its proximity to Kolkata and the scope of travel by the river,” said Philippe Toussaint, a French heritage expert.