Conserving Dutch-Indian shared heritage

Yesterday afternoon I had a nice session with Erik Roskam about maintenance of the Dutch-Indian shared heritage (DISH) website. Erik gave the push for the start of the DISH platform in the Netherlands in 2014. He had approached me through my VOC in India web page that I have since 1997 asking help to find archive material on one of his ancestors who was buried in Chinsurah. I could only help him by linking him with the India Netherlands Friendship Society there. Since then Erik took his family twice to Chinsurah and did more research.

On his return he invited me and two others te explore interest in establishing an association in the Netherlands that could support interest in, promotion and conservation of the Dutch-Indian shared heritage, with a first focus on Chinsurah. Mirjam Pastoors is related to the Canter Visscher family of whom quite a few went to India in VOC service. Bauke van der Pol is author of the well-received VOC in India book in which he documents with many pictures Dutch heritage in India. We all agreed that there was value in starting the DISH platform.

My fascination

My fascination for Dutch/Indian history started in 1987 with a newspaper cutting send to me by my friend Christiaan Minderhoud with a picture of the remaining walls of a Dutch reformed Church in Chinsura, 40 miles up the river Hooghly from Calcutta. The newspaper was appalled that the Mohsin University was tearing down this Indian – Dutch monument.

From that moment on I started checking the archives about the VOC (United East Indian Company) and reading old travel journals. Now I have 85 titles on the VOC in India. Based on information from those journals and pictures from the 1920s I planned a trip to the various coasts of India to document in slides what is left of these Indian-Dutch monuments. I did this trip on my own in February – March 1989. Since then I have been back a couple of times and to Chinsurah four times.

I made slides on all coasts and was surprised about what was still there.

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