The district of Hooghly is just 47 km north of Kolkata and is steeped in history and heritage. Dotted with several small but important towns, the district is testimony to the rule of foreign settlers-the British and Portuguese at Hooghly, the Dutch at Chinsurah, the French at Chandannagar, and the Germans and Austrians at Bhadreswar. The Portuguese were the first to settle here in 1537, but were defeated by Shah Jahan in 1632.
The British East India Company then followed and set up a factory here in 1651. Chandannagar was once a French colony and is still under the influence of French language and culture. Chinsurah was a Dutch settlement from 1656 to 1825. It was later exchanged by the Dutch for the British-held Indonesian island of Sumatra in 1825. The Hooghly, as the Ganga River is called here, dominates the landscape and people use ferries to cross from one town to another.
Chandannagore Strand is a beautiful tourist spot along the banks of the river Ganges. It is about 1 km in length and 7 m in width, and many buildings with historical importance surround the spot. This is a place where people love to take a walk and gaze at the sailing boats in far waters. This is the best decorated bank of the river, along its entire stretch. A meditation center has been also erected here.
Chandannagar Museum and Indo-French Institute is an Indo-French cultural centre and museum. It was established in the 19th century by the then French Prime Minister Pompidre and Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri. The center features various galleries, dedicated to the French East India Company, French furniture, French periodic administration as well as Indian art and crafts. The art gallery and museum was open to the public in the year 1956.
The museum contains displays regarding the local history of Chandannagar, including the archaeological discoveries in the district since the Gupta period. Besides, the library contains information relating to the French administration in India.
The Basilica of the Holy Rosary commonly known as Bandel Church is one of the oldest Christian churches in West Bengal. Bandel Church is a Roman Catholic Church situated in Bandel, Hooghly district. On November 25, 1988, Pope John Paul II declared the sanctuary a minor basilica. Bandel, (the name came from the Bengali word "bandar" which means "port") appears to have been the port of Hooghly at the time of Portuguese and Mughals. The only relics of the Portuguese settlement are the Church (Basilica) and the monastery. The present church and monastery are said to be built in 1660 by Gomez de Soto having the key stone of the old church bearing the date 1599 over the eastern gate of the Monastery. In front of the Church stands a ship's mast which was presented by the captain of a vessel which had encountered a storm
in the Bay of Bengal and save by the grace of Virgin, the center of attraction. There is the statue of" One Lady of Happy Voyage" in the middle of the church. The church has three altars, a small organ and several tomb stones.
• Imambara, built by Hazi Mohammad Mohsin, is situated on the bank of River Ganga in Chinsurah. The construction of the building started in the year 1841 and was completed in 1861. The two storied building consists of several rooms and has a wide entrance, with the main gate flanked by two 80 ft tall towers and a massive clock tower between them.
The walls are decorated with texts from Holy the Koran and decorated with marbles, candle and lanterns. The mosque is situated north of the building and in the south there are graves of Mohammad Mohsin and his relatives.
The place is located close to the Hooghly railway station on the Howrah-Bandel main line. Tourists can hire rickshaws to reach the place.
Imambara Road, Chowk Bazar, Olaichanditala, Hooghly, West Bengal 712103.
Debanandapur village is the birthplace of Katha Silpi Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, who was born on 15th September 1876. This village is one of the seven important villages, which formed the Sapta Gram during the Mughal era.
The dwelling place of Sarat Chandra is still present there and is frequented by tourists year-round. A library named Sarat Smrithi Pathagar and a museum housing belongings of the famous writer is present there. Four atchala temples of the 19th century can also be found there. Tourists having archaeological interests can visit the old Dol Mancha within the premises.
Debanandapur village is located 3 km west of the Bandel railway station. Auto services are available from the station to the village.
Dutch Cemetery is an Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) - protected site. The cemetery contains an assortment of graves scattered under the shade of ancient trees. The oldest date back to 1743 while the newest one was laid in 1840.
Built by Louis Taillefert, then director of the VOC in Bengal, the cemetery was active during the 18th 19th centuries, and houses about 45 graves of Dutch citizens who died between 1743 and 1846. The oldest tomb belongs to Sir Cornelius Jonge who died in Chinsurah in 1743. Other prominent people buried here are Daniel Overbeck, Gregorious Herklots, a high official in the VOC, and George Vernet, another VOC director. The latter's tomb has no inscription.
Ghorir More: This 19th century Gothic tower, imported by the British in memory of King Edward VI, is Chinsurah’s iconic landmark. Crafted in cast iron, its clock in working condition, Ghorir More, as it is popularly known, stands at the intersection of four important streets.
EDWARDVS VII DEI GRA BRITT OMN REX which is the Latin abbreviation for Edward the Seventh, by the Grace of God, King of All Britain Defender of the Faith. These are the inscription which people often do not notice when the cross the small clock tower in Chinsurah. Most just simply call it the “Ghorir More” (Clock Crossing) due to its presence at a four-point crossing.
Chinsurah was part of the East India Company and under the Dutch it was the Dutch East India Company. Once one of the jewels in the crown this small town had its good share of glorious past and one such example is the Edwardian Clock Tower that sits right in the middle of the road.
Just outside the town of Chinsurah or Chuchura, on the Grand Trank Road (G T Rd.) is the temple styled grave of Susana Anna Maria. Susanna Anna Maria was a Dutch lady married to an Englishman named Mr. Yeats, although nothing much is known about the lady or her husband. Built in 1809, the octagonal structure is an ideal example of Indo–Dutch architecture. The two storied structure, with arched gateways and slender columns is crowned with a dome. The tomb contains no epitaph but the name Susanna Anna Maria is inscribed in the drum of the dome.
Bandemataram House is situated at Joraghat. The national song of India "Bandemataram" was composed in this house by the great literary figure Rishi Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay when he was posted as Magistrate here.
The state has restored the nearly 200-year-old single-storeyed house locally known as Vande Mataram Bhavan at Joraghat in Hooghly's Chinsurah.
Shanderswartala Temple is the oldest temple in Chinsurah. It is about 5 km away from the Chinsurah railway station. The temple is situated on the bank of the river Ganges, north of the Dutta Ghat. The temple was established by Sidheswar Roychoudhury after the Lingam of Shiva was placed by Digambar Halder in the 16th century.
This Temple has a 'Dhak' made of brass, which was presented by the Dutch Governor of that time and is still used. There is also Durga Temple which was established in the year 1845.
St. Olav’s Church is located on Dr. Bishwanath Jot Sarani at Tin Bazar near serampore court. in the City of Serampore in the Indianstate of West Bengal. Locally known as the Danish Church, it was one of the 100 buildings that were constructed by the Danish management between 1755 and 1845, at a time when the town was called Frederiksnagore
The Rathayatra of Mahesh is the second oldest rathayatra in the world and the oldest and biggest in World, having been celebrated since 1396. It is held in Mahesh, a historical locality within Serampore City in the Indian state of West Bengal. It is a week-long festival and a grand fair is held at that time. People throng to have a share in pulling the long ropes (Rosshi) attached to the chariots of Lord Jagannath, Balarama and Subhadra on the journey from the temple to Mahesh Gundicha Bari (or, Masir Bari) and back within 8th day.
Jagaddhatri Puja is a major socio cultural event in this region. This culture was even elevated to the status of Durga Puja in Kolkata, clearly represents the Hindu custom here. The uniqueness of this Puja is the height of the idol and intricate and attractive lightings.
Makar Sankranti was another festival of equal importance. It was the traditional beliefs that the prayers of those are fulfilled who take dip in the Tribeni Sangam.
Mahesh is the principal fair held on the occasion of "Rathajatra". Printing Machine was first established in the district in the year of 1778 and the first Bengali book (Bengali version of A Grammar of the Bengali Language) was printed here. Thus the district is the onlooker of many first establishments, hence historically significant. Moreover the buildings of Hooghly are the lively embodiments of the ancient culture and tradition.