The West Bengal Heritage Commission has proposed the replication of the Serampore Initiative, which led to the restoration of Danish heritage in Serampore, to take up similar projects in former European colonies along the Hooghly. Portuguese were the first to settle in Bandel, followed by the Dutch in Chinsurah and French in Chandernagore.
“The Serampore Initiative that saw the Danish government, National Museum of Denmark and the West Bengal Heritage Commission (WBHC) sign an MoU and contribute towards restoration of important Danish architecture in Serampore can act as a model to drive similar initiatives in other European settlements in Hooghly,” WBHC chairman Shuvaprasanna said.
Conservation architect Manish Chakraborti, who executed the restoration of St Olav Church, Denmark Tavern and North and South Gate of the court compound, said the National Museum of Denmark had steered the research, while the Danish government and WBHC had financed the project. “This collaborative and bottom-up approach is a potential model for conservation-led development in other historic settlements along the Hooghly,” he said. On Thursday, WBHC assigned heritage plaques to the restored buildings. St Olav Church, restored in association with the Calcutta diocese, has won a Unesco heritage award of distinction.
Bente Wolff, project head of Serampore Initiative, said the key takeaway from the Serampore model was how it catalysed larger contributions and supplementary projects from the state government and Serampore municipality, like restoration of Government House, upgrading of the riverfront, historic streets and the historic town square. “We also have the relocation planned for government office, away from historic town core, demolition of sub-standard buildings and construction of new bus terminus to relieve the town core of overload of buses,” Bente added.
Source: Times of India