Embracing the banks of the Ganges River, just 30 km north of busy Kolkata, is the small, beautiful erstwhile French colony. Formerly known as Chandannagore, Chandannagar, today, continues to house remnants of French colonization, despite its turbulent past
In fact, though the rest of India won independence in 1947, Chandannagar continued to remain a stronghold of the French till 1950.Once an important maritime and commerce hub, the French and the British fought many battles and skirmishes for control over this town. Though the British did take over governance at many points in history, during which they destroyed many of the French monuments and structures, the French colonizers were eventually victorious.French colonization therefore left the town with a distinctively European legacy, with Chadannagar’s landscape still dotted with buildings, churches and museums that showcase French architectural styles. With a French aura but Bengali soul, Chandannagar is a popular destination for tourists within the state.It is the town’s French ancestry that gives Chandannagar a unique edge. Most of the French establishments that have stood the test of time are concentrated in the area that is known as ‘the Strand’. This promenade by the river is popular with tourists and locals alike, whether strolling down the promenade or sitting down to enjoy the sunset in the evenings. The Sacred Heart Church, just off the Strand, is a beautiful testament to the past, with its stunning, intricate stained glass windows.Another important landmark in the town is the erstwhile Duplex Mansion, which serves as the Chandannagar Museum today. The museum houses a fascinating collection of French artifacts that hark back to the colonial era.Other sites, such as the Nandulal Temple, the terracotta temple, and the Durgacharan Rakshit Ghat are also worth a visit.Auto-rickshaws can be found in Chandannagar, but they are not always easily available. Hiring a car from Kolkata and driving down is your best bet.Summers are harsh in Chandannagar, so plan your visit accordingly.
Chandannagar is not well connected to other major cities of the country via regular flights. The nearest airport is in Kolkata at a distance of 24kms.
There is no regular trains to Chandannagar from other major cities of the country. The nearest Railway station is at Kolkata which is located at a distance of 32kms.