Encouraged by the response and its potential to attract more tourists, West Bengal Transport Corporation (WBTC) plans to include former European settlements like the Dutch at Chinsurah and Portugese in Bandel in its European Settlements Boat Ride (ESBR) along the Hooghly. However, to cover the entire stretch it may add a few more hours to the trip or use a faster vessel to reduce the journey time.
Ambassador of Denmark to India, Freddy Svane took the ride on Sunday.
Svane was surprised to see a packed vessel with enthusiastic riders eager to explore Danish and French history along the Hooghly. “European Settlements Boat Ride is a fantastic initiative. It is a part of the revitalization of the great history of Kolkata and West Bengal. It may be seen as a great step to re-look at European history in India,” said Svane.
The ride was inaugurated on Valentine’s Day and has been totally sold out since then. The ESBR takes people to the settlements of Serampore and Chandernagore where the Danish and the French East India Company had established colonies.
This 11-hour trip is like a perfect weekend getaway where one can travel with family and get absorbed in the history of Europe in India on a boat. “The journey takes you along the places where Europeans had settled and set up colonies hundreds of years ago. Travelling along the river is still the most romantic and ideal way to see these colonial structures,” said Rajanvir Singh Kapur, managing director, WBTC.
Thomas Sehested, director, Danish Cultural Institute India, said: “The area is an important part of our common pre-colonial history.”
Priti Paul of Oxford Bookstores, who took the ride recently, said: “It’s good to have such unique initiatives that make people understand history and appreciate global cultures.”
The vessel has been decked up with souvenirs, photos, memorabilia of Europe and a library.