Restoring Denmark Tavern (1782), Serampore

Danish settlement with tavern 1790 West Bengal.

Denmark tavern, 1923, Serampore, West Bengal.

In  India, there are innumerable monuments that are the remnants of the past colonial rulers and  as well as early rulers. It is the responsibility of the state governments in association with the Central government (ASI) to take care of them and save those that face the risk of crumbling over  period of timedue to neglect and lack of interest. In this regard, Kerala and West Bengal have become pioneers and saviors of heritage structures for the posterity.

Serampore, near Kolkata has innumerable monuments, in particular, built by the Danish colonist.  A 200 year old heritage building - a two storied structure was once a Danish Tavern, a nice water hole  in the Danish colony that once attracted lots of Europeans.  This old building had been lying in ruins for a pretty long time. Last year in October the restoration work began in full swing and the project cost was around Rs. 5 crores funded by the National Museum of Denmark -  part of Serampore Initiative, a collective of representatives from the Denmark Museum and West Bengal government. The old tavern will be converted into riverside cafe with limited  accommodation. Once the restoration work is completed, along with the eatery, there will be a lodge, catering to the visitors to this famous heritage site and the Danish ambiance would be retained that would enthuse the tourists. It is likely coffee Board would manege the cafe and set up the coffee house.

Former Denmark tavern and hotel in ruins,
Built in 1782, the tavern was  located next to the flag staff ghat, now called Nishan ghat. Once a popular joint, now in a dilapidated condition, it served the  traders and travelers  in the the Danish settlement. A place where   they could drink to their heart's content to get rid of  their  frustration and ennui. For some reasons, it fell into disuse a century ago. Mr. Wolfe of the Denmark Museum mentioned according to the  March 1786 issue of Calcutta Gazette, the Denmark Tavern & Hotel was opened by one  Mr. Parr, former owner of London Tavern. This place served  food and drinks for the wealthy people and had a billiard table and coffee room for relaxation. In front of the newly restored St. Olav's Church there was a square and it would be beautified. This part was once the core of the settlement.

Be merry before marry!!
The Serampore Initiative is a good step in right direction to reinvent such heritage sites and put them back to old glory. Besides, the rich experience they've gained in this historical site will be used as a guide to restore the French settlement at  Chandranagore, the Dutch in Chinsurah and the English at Barrackpore. The other projects  under way are the restoration of South Gate and  its surroundings and North Gate of the Danish Governor House or Government House (1771) compound. The compound dates back to 1755 when Danish Asiatic Society Company established a trading post.This would also include beautification and landscaping of spaces between the restored monuments.

learning the easy way.
In the future Serampore will become a major tourist attraction just like Muziris  in Kerala, once a famous seaport in ancient India which  served as the gate way to many cultures and races.