Chandannagar is a historical town. I don’t have to tell it again in this digital Unveil. Press, I have earlier written two articles about Chandannagar in Unveil. Press magazine. I gave the link to both pieces at the end.
A vivid amalgamation of French and Bengali culture and architecture is what Chandannagar is known for. You will realize it when you visit the area.
The Museum has a lot of heritage items and is preserving old memories. It opened in 1961. It’s also known as a French institute. During colonial rule, the French built it. It was the official residence of the Governor-General of French, Dupleix, and successive governors-general.
The museum gives an insight into the French colonial days and other unknown and known aspects of the town. I went there in May, 2022.
About my visit to the museum:
I want to speak frankly about my feelings about the Museum. From the outside, the architecture of the Museum will impress you. But the interior of the Museum does not look so rosy. The smooth running of the Museum requires a curator. Unfortunately, it has no curator. So if visitors are curious about exhibits, there is no one to help them. Instead, you will find cursory references for every item under the display.
There is an extensive library at the Museum, but no librarian. In addition, the ceiling of the library and part of the Museum are in awful shape.
An informal chat with the Director of the Museum and others
In an informal chat with the Director, Dr. Phalguni Mukherjee said that the building comes under the Archeological Survey of India(ASI). But the Museum and library pertain to West Bengal Government. Dr.Mukherjee is a senior officer of the West Bengal Government.
He said any maintenance or renovation of the building needs approval from ASI. Recently, the Director has taken up a proposal for a Light and sound system with the ASI. The ASI authorities have informed that for this, they (ASI) need the approval of higher-ups from New Delhi. He said he apprised the Superintendent of ASI about the precarious condition of the ceiling. Further action from the ASI is pending.
Since the Museum pertains to West Bengal Government, he had already taken up with the Secretary/Education department of West Bengal for appointing a curator, and the matter is under process.
According to sources at the Museum, there is a twenty-one sanction post for the curator. However, the Museum doesn’t have a curator. Some staff in the past used to make a study to reply to visitors’ queries. Likewise, though there is a sanctioned post of a Librarian, there is none. People, often research scholars, visit the library to refer to books.
There is a French institute in the Museum. But the teachers teaching here French language have retired. So the guest teachers run the institute in their absence.
The Museum requires curators, librarians, French language regular teachers, and building renovation.
Visit inside the museum.
Let me take you to the Museum. You can’t take a mobile or camera inside the Museum without prior permission. The official allowed me to take some pictures with my mobile.
There is a picture of the Personal security of Dupleix in the room near the entrance. If you study the French style of living before you come to the Museum, you will find a plan of a flourishing French colony attractive.
There are sketches and maps about sea route exploration to India. For example, following the directives of King John- II, Vasco de- Gama made a sea route exploration to India by passing through Africa with four vessels.
There are charts and diagrams explaining the export trading of rice, sugar, salt, silk, opium, etc., with European countries like Portuguese, Dutch, French, and Danish in those days. The first traders to arrive in Hooghly were from Portugal in 1537. The Portuguese business moved to the new establishment after the fall of the Satgaon port. Seeing business monopoly of Portuguese; Dutch, French, Danish, and British established their East India Company. You will find a good elaboration about it in the Museum.
There are write-ups explaining Job Charnock. He is the founder of the city of Kolkata.
Job Charnock came to India as an employee of the East India Company in 1655. In the battle of Golaghat in Hooghly, the Mughals defeated Charnock.
There are excellent photographs of the attack made by Clive Rowe in Chinsurah to defeat the Dutch Establishment. Besides these are photographs and life sketches of local lad J Sen, who died in France in May 1916 in World War-I while fighting for the British. His war honor has an exhibit in the Museum. You will also find a collection of newspapers, momentous photographs, and artifacts.