Home to the oldest Armenian church in India and some of the oldest Hindu temples, Chinsurah is about 35km from the north of Kolkata. It’s a must visit for those who want to experience the culture essence of West Bengal.
Bengal was an important hub for sugar, indigo and textiles back in the 17th-century. It attracted a lot of small traders and peasant communities of the Portuguese and the Dutch. They even started a factory called Fort Gustavas, which eventually was swept away by the floods.
The Dutch then built a new factory at Chinsurah, this time along with a large fort called Fort Gustavus. While it was a major attraction back then, other must-see places in Chinsurah at the time with strong Dutch influences included the silk factory at Kasim Bazar and a garden south of Chandannagar. Most of them are demolished today.
Chinsurah was ceded to the English in the 19th-century, post which it became a major military centre for the East India Company as well as a reception area for troops newly arriving from England. The British constructed extensive barracks in place of Fort Gustavus, which, today, is used as the Court Building.
A short distance away, the Hooghly Madrasha, formally the barracks for the Dutch and British soldiers, along with a marble plaque and a few scattered Dutch cannons still stands as mute witnesses to the colonial days of Chinsurah.
Other places to explore in Chinsurah include: Bandel Church, Hooghly Imambara, Ghorir More, Shandeshwar Temple, Dutch cemetery, Chinsurah Maidan, Temple of Mahishmardini, Maurpankhi Ghat and Bankim Bhawan. The most interestingly attraction is the Tomb of the Black Widow and Anna Maria Memorial; the Dutch woman who was known for killing all her seven husbands.
The nearest airport is in Kolkata, about 53km/2 hour away and the nearest rail-head too is in Kolkata called the Howrah Junction.