Chinsurah and Mr. Nandy revisited

Trip Start Jan 28, 2012
Trip End Mar 12, 2012

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Flag of India  , West Bengal,
Wednesday, February 22, 2012

On 20 February we revisited Chinsurah with a car and driver from ASHA, Rajat's NGO. The drive on the old Grand Trunk Road took nearly three hours. We noticed many new buildings along the Hooghly river. We passed first Serampore where the Danes had their settlement more than 200 years ago. This runs over into Chandranagore, where the French historical presence is
still visible on the G.T. road with Liberte, Egalite et Fraternite pillars on both sides of the road. Some10 kilometres further on we reach Chinsurah. Chris has been here at least six times, I at least four times.

We first stop at the tomb of Susanna Anna Maria Yeats "geboore Verkerk" that is still in
relative good condition. The Archeological Survey of India has put extra signs, including one prohibiting picnics. After some asking and phoning the driver finds the street where the Nandy family is eagerly waiting for us. The whole India-Netherlands Friendship Society is present with the Nandy sons and grand son. They enjoy seeing my 1989 VOC India pictures from my laptop for the first time, while we have a light lunch. Mr, Ganesh Nandy presented Chris with his book
'Hollanders in India, and the Emergence of Chinsurah' that he published himself in 2011. I'll get my copy when I am back in Amsterdam.

Mr. Nandy is trying to get UNESCO cultural heritage status for this 40 kilometre European – Indian historical stretch along the Hoogly river.

We revisited the Dutch Cemetery with four of the Society members divided over our car and an auto rickshaw. We are pleasantly surprised to see how well it has been maintained after all these years. Also here find the three Archeological Survey of India signs, including the No Picnic one. The text on some of the stones is disappearing, Two gardeners enjoy the quietness of the place. There is now a low wall between the old cemetery and the part that is still being used,but some of the graves there are old ones as well.

From there we go to the Armenian church in the better part of Chinsurah. From the outside we can see that it has been recently painted. Two private security guards let us in. Inside the high walls we see a big garden with beautiful flowers. Inside the church light from glass coloured windows guides in dreamy light. A very rich Armenian merchant in Calcutta is spending hundreds of thousands of rupees to keep it in such a good shape, says Ganesh Nandy. There is only one service per year, on January 6 the Armenian Christmas.

Next is the Madrassa school, formerly the VOC barracks, from where we see still part of a Dutch wall of the Fort Gustavus area. We end at the Hindu temple on the Hooghly coast, where a lot of activity is taking place because of the Shiva puja. All day we had seen preparations
around small temples and women carrying pots of water. At this temple there was a long queue of women waiting to go into the temple for the blessing by their priest for their. The Nandy family guided  our driver to the spot from where he could take the Delhi highroad that brought us back to Saltlake township in two hours.

As always on the roads in India there are narrow escapes with approaching traffic, but also glimpses of traditional life, such as a barefoot holy man balancing two pots on his shoulders carrying holy Ganges water all the way to a temple in Orissa, 400 kilometres in
country, Chris knows.    
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Vera on

Nice travel Dick, interesting places, have a great time.

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