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Now known as Chandannagar, this small charming town by the side of Ganges river was earlier called Chandernagore: The city of the moon. This mini-city near Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, was a French Colony in pre-independent India. Across the river is the erstwhile British territory and Army Cantonment, Barrackpore. The town of Chinsurah, which is a heartbeat away, was colonized by the Dutch. This town thus houses a unique amalgamation of Anglo-French-Dutch culture. Walking down the roads, you cannot ignore this heavy cultural aroma and the subtle elegance of the place.
If you travel via the local train from Kolkata, this simple small railway station makes it look like just another of the many sleepy towns. While exploring Chandannagar, be prepared to be amazed by the place.
The Strand Road is undoubtedly the prime attraction of the town. A long stretch of road decorated with dainty street lights, lush trees and a moist breeze from the river, is a beautiful place to unwind. Of course, the place comes alive each evening, with kids, couples, elders, friends, students, and families walking around and absorbing the fun.
Yummy street-food counters dot the street. The balloon hawkers, the ice cream vendors, the chaat stalls will give you the feel of a festival.
Right across the road, you will find the other major attraction of the place.
l’Eglise du Sacré Cœur also known as the Sacred Heart church of Chandannagar, is a majestic white building. The French architecture of the church is unique and one of a kind in India. The building, inaugurated in 1884, bears the mark of french beauty and architecture.
Beside this church is the Institut de Chandernagor, also known as the Chandannagaore Museum and Institute. This is another remarkable tourist attraction. The government, and the people, hold on to the French culture dearly. French language classes are a regular feature at the institute, till date.
A few meters down the road, you will come across Patalbari. Although the house was initially owned by the nearby landlords (zamindars), Rabindranath Tagore stayed in this house for a long time. The lowest floor of the house is submerged in the river Ganges.
This small town is much more than just a bunch of landmarks. Sprawled across the town, you can find old constructions with a heavy influence of French architecture. Although the city is about a hundred kilometers away from Kolkata, people here do not want to migrate for economic reasons alone. They love embracing the place and sticking here through thick and thin.
“Sweet”heart of West Bengal
The sweet making skills of the Chandannagar artists are as famous as its french colonial history. Do they have any historical link? No one knows, but some sweet specialties are worth a try. Some noteworthy names are Surya Modak and Sheel Sweets. Both these shops are centuries old, family-run businesses. Some sweet varieties, like Jalbhara, Lod Chomchom, Rasogolla are so much in demand, that people queue up outside the shops in anticipation, and the sweets are sold out within minutes of making!
Jagadhatri Puja and the Light Makers
Perhaps the most noteworthy mention of this place is Jagadhatri Puja. While for the rest of West Bengal, Durga Puja is the prima donna of festivals, Devi Jagadhatri, another form of Devi Durga has won her place of significance in the hearts of Chandannagar citizens. Jagadhatri puja in the city dates back to the 17th century. Now, the festival is significant due to light artists. Some of the lighting equipment are imported from Germany. During the festival days, millions of people throng the place to experience the grandeur.
What was your experience while exploring Chandannagar? Write to us @ firstname.lastname@example.org
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