The Crumbling French Fête in India

West Bengal Mar 16, 2020

Here’s a small town in India, which celebrated with no less enthusiasm than any French city. When France won the World Cup in 2018, you might be wondering which is this small town with a French population and heritage. If you are guessing Pondicherry, then you are wrong. There is a town that was technically the first French town in India, and we call it Chandannagar in West Bengal.

Chandannagar or Chandernagore came into the picture much before the British colonization and setting up of East India Company. Since colonized by the French, it is very different from any other British colonized town in West Bengal or India. Years before, when Calcutta was about to become a trading city and later the ‘Crown Jewel,’ this city was already prosperous. This eclectic Indo-European civilization on the banks of Ganges was heavily envied by the British. During the Anglo-French war, when the British defeated French, Chandernagore declined, and Calcutta rose. The decline was such that today not many know about the city, but locals know the exquisite heritage.

Many of them are crumbling and in decay. But a few have been conserved and brought back to its original conditions which makes them shine vividly in this small town. Few of the places worth visiting are:

Chandannagar Strand

Chandan Nagar Strand

Chandannagar Strand is an essential pathway in the city. Lined with lights and trees and beside the holy river, it is a place where you can take a stroll and enjoy the food. There are a few structures built in the French Renaissance style, which will take you to France for a second.

Sacred Hearts Church

Sacred Hearts Church

This church is around 200 years old and is stunning. The edifice is gain in French style and is equally breathtaking. During the sunset, the red hues shine on the white building creating vintage magic.

Chandan Nagar Museum

Chandan Nagar Museum

The museum is itself built in a style of Indo-french, making itself a work of art. Inside there are several French and English artifacts that will open the window to the town years ago.

French Edifices in Chandan Nagar
Public Buildings showing French Architecture in India

Apart from these major sightseeing areas there are villas, bungalows, and shophouses which reflect the French architecture and are elements which connect to the past. Though decadent and degrading, they are an important source of history and architecture and the culture which the city today resembles.