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Chasing Colonial Ghosts: A Road Trip Through West Bengal’s Forgotten European Legacy

Embark on a road trip from Itachuna to Kolkata, retracing the footsteps of European powers who left their mark on the land. 

The air hums with anticipation as you leave the regal Itachuna Raj Bari behind. Today’s journey isn’t just about reaching Kolkata; it’s a time warp through history, retracing the footsteps of European powers who etched their mark on this land. Buckle up, history buffs and wanderlust souls, because we’re embarking on a road trip through the whispers of the past, from Itachuna to Kolkata, via the former Portuguese, Dutch, French, and Danish colonies that dot the Hooghly River.

Image Credit: The Tramp

Bandel: Portuguese Whispers on the Hooghly

Our first stop is Bandel, once a thriving Portuguese outpost. The imposing Bandel Basilica, a testament to their architectural prowess, stands sentinel against the sky. Its intricate carvings and stained-glass windows whisper tales of seafaring captains and forgotten dreams. Take advantage of the Imambara, a majestic blend of Mughal and Portuguese influences, its towering clock tower a beacon of time-defying history.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Chinsurah: Dutch Delights and Delicacies

Next, we arrive in Chinsurah, where the Dutch spirit lingers in the air. Walk through the Dutch Governor’s residence, now a museum housing relics of a bygone era. The weathered cemetery whispers tales of settlers and soldiers, while the Dutch Cemetery, with its quaint tombstones, paints a poignant picture of a colonial past. Don’t miss the Dutch cheese, a legacy that melts in your mouth, leaving a taste of history on your tongue.

French Architecture in Chandannagar, West Bengal  Image Credit: mytriptochandannagar.blogspot.com

Chandannagar: A French Rendezvous with Romance

Chandannagar, once a French colony, is a charming blend of French elegance and Bengali warmth. Stroll along the Strand, a riverside promenade lined with colonial buildings, their pastel facades and wrought-iron balconies exuding a distinctly French charm. In the Governor’s House, now the Institute of French Studies, delve into the town’s intriguing past and savour the aroma of croissants.

French Architecture in Chandannagar, West Bengal  Image Credit: mytriptochandannagar.blogspot.com

Serampur: Danish Dreams and Literary Endeavors

Our final stop is Serampur, the Danish jewel on the Hooghly. Step into the Serampore College, a legacy of Danish colonial rule, its grand halls and library whispering stories of scholars and scribes. Enjoy a cup of coffee or tea at the Denmark Tavern before heading off to Kolkata.

Denmark Tavern   Image Credit: ATI Travel NZ

Kolkata: A Symphony of Past and Present

Finally, we arrive in Kolkata to continue the “Golden Threads of Moguls” tour, where the echoes of these colonial whispers blend with the city’s own vibrant symphony. Here, in the bustling markets and art galleries, the legacies of all those who came before us, Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, and French, weave a rich tapestry of cultural fusion.

This road trip is not just about ticking off historical landmarks; it’s about experiencing the echoes of the past in the present. It’s about savouring the unique flavours of cheese in Chinsurah, the melodic French words still spoken in Chandannagar, and the towering legacy of Danish printing presses in Serampur. It’s a journey through time, reminding us that history is not something confined to dusty museums but a living thread woven into the fabric of our everyday lives.

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