Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Presentations on Dutch in Chinsurah

February 15, 2020

On 6 February 2020 I did my Dutch in Chinsurah presentation for members of INTACH Calcutta. I changed quite a few older slides with a selection from the ones I took a few days ago.

Next day I did my presentations to 175 pupils and teachers at the under graduate college Mrinalini Datta Mahavidyapith, in Birati, Kolkata. In two lectures I shared my experience and knowledge on journalism, my Bangladesh work with UNICEF, water, sanitation and hygiene with the IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre and the shared Holland at the Hooghly. This is how the Principal who lives close to Chinsurah called it. It became very lively and I had to answer a lot of questions.

See Presentations on Dutch in Chinsurah

Terpstra’s 1947 book helped my first trip in 1989

February 15, 2020

More than 30 years ago I paid 30 guilders in an Amsterdam antiquarian bookshop for the little book: De Nederlanders in Voor-India, by H. Terpstra, published in the Patria series by P.N. van Kampen & Zoon N.V, Amsterdam in 1947, the year of my birth. This is a concise write up in Dutch about the importance of the Dutch role in India that started in the early 17thcentury and lasted until 1825. It also was for me the first book that described what the energy of Dutch ancestors established in India. How they traded, what connections they had with Indian monarchs, what attitudes and behaviours they had on local cultural and religious actions.


In his final chapter entitled Our Legacy Terpstra wrote: “Who  deeply researches and documents traces of the labour of our 17th century forefathers will reap a surprising harvest”.  He wrote about the Dutch cemetery and Surat with the impressive grave monument of Adriaan van Reede tot Drakensteijn and other Dutch cemeteries, churches, loges and factories on all coast of India. His attractive writing started my research in archives and antiquarian bookshops in 1988.


In February 1989 this book and others and quite a few days of study in the National archives in The Hague helped me to plan my first trip to our shared heritage with India. Soon after that I came across In het voetspoor der vaderen, by Maurits Wagenviirt, a book from 1929 that showed me the first pictures from the Dutch heritage that was still existing in 1929.


Tha made take three weeks holiday from my work. I started in Calcutta where my friend Christiaan was working and his paper clipping of 1988 pointed me to Chinsurah. With his help with local contacts I did visit the cemeteries and fort in Sadraspatnam and Pulicat near Chennai. I crossed over to Cochin in Kerala for the Dutch church and cemetery on Fort Cochin. And I went from there by train to Surat and Bharuch in Gujarat. I made slides in all these places that I have digitalised in the late 1990s to publish a few on my first website.

Chinsurah in 2020 after revamp

February 15, 2020

Unfortunately mr. Ganesh Nandy of the Indian Netherlands Friendship Society fell ill. The INSF could not receive me in early February 2020. I was very lucky that I had been approached a few days ago by Byapti Sur who I know from our earlier Dutch India heritage group. She happens to be in Chinsurah for the marriage of her brother.

At the Chinsurah train station Byapti picked me up at 10:00. Her parents live nearby so I could drop off my suitcase there.

We started at the Portuguese church in Bandel. It was too catholic for me, too much pomp and glory.

Auto taxi’s brought us back to Chinsurah where I saw for the first time the pleasant effect of the renovation of the most visible Dutch monuments: the cemetery and the Susanna Maria Yeats- Verkerk tomb. The Archeological Survey of India has created lots of green at these sites making it look like a garden around monuments. Byapti was very surprised how good they looked now compared to what she remembers from her childhood.

We walked to the nearby Hooghly Imambara. That was impressive, with a massive front and spacious inner court.

Bandel Portuguese church

We toured around some of the highlights from the booklet produced from the technical analysis of Dutch buildings done by Ayshwara Tipnis heritage architect. She did similar work for the French heritage in Chandernagore. I saw here and there near some of the buildings info-signposts that also result from the revamp.

Hooghly Imambara in Bandel

The project also produced two websites with valuable content. One is The other one is, which’s gives individual information on each of the persons buried on the Dutch cemetery. Students of the Presidency University in Kolkata helped produce pictures and researched backgrounds.

Sign board Dutch Heritage walk Chinsurah
Tomb Susanna Anna Maria Yeats – Verkerk (1809)
With Byapti Sur
Dutch cannons in front of the madrassa in Chinsurah
Sign post of Dutch heritage in Chinsurah
A public info brochure about Chinsurah, the Dutch heritage

Meeting INTACH advisor in Kolkata

January 31, 2020

On 30 January 2020 I had an interesting meeting with mr. G. M. Kapur, advisor of the Indian National Trust for Art and Culture Heritage (INTACH) in West Bengal. This is the national agency for heritage conservation in India.

We discussed the Dutch heritage situation in Chinsurah and my forthcoming presentation for the INTACH members. He showed me a copy of the Bauke van der Pol’s book in English: The Dutch East Indian Company.

In the workspace with their collections staff was working to conserve old documents.

Jan Willem Hessing: a military adventurer

December 30, 2019

Jan Willem Hessing was a military adventurer who dodged the VOC service and he joined the India Maharaja Madho Rao Sindhia in the battles with other Indian rulers. As colonel he was successful.


See more here.


December 22, 2019

Little Europe, Department of Tourism, Govt. of West Bengal, Official Website, district wise tourist places,Rasagolla,Rosogolla,biswa bangla,bengal treasure, calcutta, Carnival, puja carnival, Red Road Carnival, Mega Show, Bengal Road Show, Bengal Toursim, Live Show, carnival live stream, festival,river cruise,sundarbans,darjeeling,north bengal,dakshineswar,belur math,vivekananda,rabindranath,satyajit ray,ramkrishna,shri chaitanya,ISKCON,bengali,kumortuli,tourism,tourist
— Lees op

Chinsurah: Holland on the Hooghly 

December 22, 2019

Say ‘Dutch’ and ‘Chinsurah’ isn’t the first place that comes to mind. Yet this Bengali town was their home in India
— Lees op

My first trip in 1989

October 10, 2019

More than 30 years ago I paid 30 guilders in an Amsterdam antiquarian bookshop for the little book: De Nederlanders in Voor-India, by H. Terpstra, published in the Patria series by P.N. van Kampen & Zoon N.V, Amsterdam in 1947, the year of my birth. This is a concise write up in Dutch about the importance of the Dutch role in India that started in the early 17thcentury and lasted until 1825.

Terpstra’s 1947 book helped my first trip in 1989

The colourful Jacob Haafner

October 4, 2019

From 1773 to 1786 Jacob Haafner was in India, where he had an adventure full and colourful life. First as klerk in Negapatnam, later as bookkeeper in the Sadras factory. From 1781 he worked some years in Calcutta as bookkeeper with the former British Governer and scholar in Bengal, Joseph Fowke.

Haafner was utterly indignant about the behaviour of the Europeans in India characterized in his view by greed, cruelty and indifference. Time and again he argued that the local Indians were victims from the European domination.

See The colourful Jacob Haafner


Dutch sundial Bharuch

March 26, 2019

In March it took a while to find the Dutch sundial wall of the former Dutch factory in Bharuch. The situation is worse than 30 years ago when I visited there for the first time.

See also Dutch loge in Bharuch, includes a short film clip.

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