It’s all about being there at the right place and at the right time. On 5 December 2013 just after breakfast in Salt Lake, Calcutta my old friend Rajat Das pointed out to me an article “Dutch help for Chinsurah heritage revamp” on page 2 of the Times of India by Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey. The good news is that the West Bengal state tourism department has taken action. They revealed a master plan last month detailing how the state government plans to design a heritage circuit in Hooghly including Serampore, Chinsurah, Chandernagore and Bandel — seats of the Danish, the Dutch, the French and the Portuguese respectively.
“After the Danes, it is the Dutch. After Denmark decided to conserve a chunk of Serampore’s heritage in Hooghly as a reminder to its colonial past, the Dutch have now come forward to collaborate with the state government over the restoration of Chinsurah, their erstwhile colony.
The first lap of the collaboration has just been sealed and an architect has been employed by the embassy of Netherlands to conduct a detailed survey of the built heritage belonging to the Dutch during the colonial times. The architect is supposed to submit a survey report after studying Chinsurah’s legacy over the next six months. Work has started this week.”
The Dutch embassy has already restored another colonial zone in this country — in Cochin (Kochi) — and got interested in starting a similar project in Chinsurah when the state tourism department revealed its master plan.
Namit Shah, honorary Dutch consul in Kolkata was quoted in the article: “It is not just about funding a state government project. It is about re-creating a civilization that existed and spawned here in the colonial times. We are looking at the big picture of stopping the ravages of time and developing the zone as a popular tourist destination”.
The first two photos below are from 1989, the first time I visited Chinsurah.
Susanna Maria Yeats-Verkerk
Just outside Chinsurah is the “Dutch Memorial Monument of Susanna Maria Yeats – Geboore Verkerk obit 12 May 1809”. She was married to Englishman Thomas Yeats.
This neo classical monument is also under the protection of the Archeological Survey of India, as is the Dutch cemetery. neo classical monument is also under the protection of the Archeological Survey of India, as is the Dutch cemetery.