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A slice of European history, along the Hooghly River

The ride will start at 10 am from Millenium Park each weekend. The first stop will be around 1pm at Serampore. The second halt will be around 3:30 pm at Chandernagore. The ride will end at Millenium Park around 9 pm, officials said.

The ride will start at 10 am from Millenium Park in Kolkata each weekend. (Express News)

THE WEST Bengal Transport Corporation (WBTC) on Saturday launched a boat ride – named European Settlements Boat Ride (ESBR) – from Kolkata to Serampore and Chandernagore and back that will be offered every weekend from February 14. Officials said the route of the ride Millenium Park to Serampore to Chandannagore to Millenium Park. The ride will be organised by the WBTC in collaboration with Danish Cultural Institute and Oxford Bookstores.

The ride will start at 10 am from Millenium Park each weekend. The first stop will be around 1pm at Serampore. The second halt will be around 3:30 pm at Chandernagore. The ride will end at Millenium Park around 9 pm, officials said.

History shows that the Danes had settled in Serampore. The French did the same in then Chandernagore. While Pondicherry (now Puducherry) and Diu are well-known, little is known about European history along the Hooghly River. The ESBR is aimed at changing that.

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People can enjoy the water view, watch movies, listen to European music or grab a book from the extensive library during the ride. Light snacks will be on offer, too.

The ride will take 11 hours, replete with traditional European music. The vessel for the ride is decked up in souvenirs, photos and memorabilia of Europe, and also has a well-stocked Library, commissioned by the Oxford Bookstores.

The boat ride is being launched by WBTC in collaboration with Danish Cultural Institute India and Oxford Bookstores. “The idea is to make riverine transport experience exciting and affordable, and popular among the youth”, said WBTC chairman Rachhpal Singh. The starting and ending point would be the Millennium Park jetty.

“The boat ride will give people a glimpse into the European history in India. This river ride will be a perfect weekend getaway for people,” said Rajanvir Singh Kapur, managing director of WBTC.

Thomas Sehested, director, Danish Cultural Institute India said, “I am excited to learn that WBTC is commencing the European Settlements Boat Ride, touching the former European Settlements at the Hoogly River. The area is an important part of our common pre-colonial history – with fascinating stories of exchange not just in trade, but also in culture, litteratur, art, philosophy and so much more. And going by ferry is the best way of seeing these World Heritage sites. It was after all how the Europeans first came.”

Priti Paul of Oxford Bookstores said, “It’s good to have such unique initiatives that help people understand history and appreciate global cultures.”

The cruise will operate on Saturday and Sunday from Millennium Park 10 am. Proper sanitization and other Covid protocols are being followed. Guests will have the option of a “tuck shop” serving packed light snacks and tea/coffee for on board purchase.

The first ride for the public will be on February 14, 2021, at 10 am.

Danes acquired land in Serampore from the Nawab of Bengal in the mid-18th century. Srirampur was christened “Frederiknagore” by the Danes in honour of their king Frederik V. When Colonel Ole Bie was appointed the first Crown Regent of Serampore in 1776, his administration brought more prosperity to the town and its Danish merchants. In 1845, Frederiknagore was sold to the British East India Company, and rechristened Serampore.

Chandannagar was established as a French colony in 1673. Joseph Francois Dupleix was appointed Governor of the city in 1730. Like other French colonies in India, Chandannagar was governed from Pondicherry until the town was acceded to India in 1950.

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