Sunday, 4 February 2018

French - built sacred Heart Church, Chandranagar, West Bengal - a French legacy

The altar. Sacred heart Church,Chandranagar,W.Bengal.TripAdvisor

Eglise du Sacré Cœur, Chandranagar. Weekend Destinatio
Chandranagar (also spelled Chandannagore), 35 km north of Kolkata, was a well known French colony in the then Bengal province  and the French continued their trade activities despite competition from other European powers such as the Portuguese and the Dutch.  Bandel was the center of activities for the Portuguese whose made their presence in the NE part of India 100 later after Vasco Da Gama landed on the coastal Malabar at Calicut (Kozhikode)
in 1599. As for the Danes Serampur became the principal place of operation. Even after India's independence from the British, the French continued their control on Chandranagar till 1950 and later, it became part of West Bengal. The name has its origin in the shape of the river Hooghley that meanders with a  bend resembling  half Moon (in Bengal Chand means moon) and nagar means  town. The French established a trading post in 1673 here after getting permission from the Mogul representative Ibrahim Khan. 

With the passage of time and due to negligence Chandranagar lost its pride and beauty and the old beautiful mansions and  wide boulevards, became things of the past. In spite of its lost glory. Chandranagar, now a crowded town in between 

 Howrah – Burdwan on the  main lines, still retains the French legacy and heritage as confirmed by the presence of innumerable French buildings in the famous street called the Strand, a nice stretch along the Hoogley river.

Any visitor to The Strand can not miss the two storied French place of worship called Sacred Heart Church
(Eglise du Sacré Cœur) that is characteristic of twin towers, a statue of Christ and a marble plaque that mentions the date of inauguration of this church. It was done by Father Goethals on 27 January 1884. Just like other monuments, lack of proper maintenance is writ on the old structure. The interior of this old church is adorned with stained glass windows  and walls  showing colored reliefs of Jesus carrying the cross.
Stained glass windows, Sacred Heart Church,Chandranagar. flickr.com
The church located near the Strand was designed by French Architect Jacques Duchatz and  is a major tourist destination; the other one is the Church of St. Louis which is not in good shape. Along with the Churches, the old French cemetery located on the GT Road opposite Lal Dighi bears testimony to the French supremacy in this part of Bengal. Buried here were the well-known
Sacred Heart Church, Chandranagar. livemint.com/ar
French people like
Duplessis, one of the the founding fathers of French Chandranagar and also  one of 
the pioneering meteorologist Henry "Storm". The cemetery is said to have 150 tombs - the French who either lived here or worked for the French government  were buried here centuries ago.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chandannagar