Sunday, January 24, 2016

Chandannagar Kolkata was a #French colony until 1950

Chandannagar formerly known as Chandernagore (Chondonnogor, French) was established as a French colony in 1673, when the French obtained permission from Ibrahim Khan, the Nawab of Bengal, to establish a trading post on the right bank of the Hughli River. In that year (1673-74) Duplessis, the French Commander,built a house after gathering a plot at Taldanga on the northern part of the present Chandannagar with the permission of Ibrahim Khan, the then Nawab of Bengal.Bengal was then a province of the Mughal Empire.

It became a permanent French settlement in 1688, and in 1730 Joseph François Dupleix was appointed governor of the city, during whose administration more than two thousand brick houses were erected in the town and a considerable maritime trade was carried on. For a time, Chandannagar was the main center for European commerce in Bengal. Unlike the rest of India which had been a British colony for two hundred years, Chandannagar was ruled by French.
Then in 1687 the French commander Deslandes started business at Bandel in Hooghly; but coming across many inconveniences he tried to shift to another Gateplace in Hooghly and failed to receive the permission of the Nawab to build a new firm at the very place obtained by Duplessis at Chandannagar. At last in the next year, the French received the permission to carry on duty free business in Bengal, Bihar, Orissa on payment of Rs. 40,000/- to the Moghul Government (Aurungzeb was Emperor then). Deslandes laid the foundation of Chandannagar.
In course of time Chandannagar occupied the topmost position among all foreign settlements of Bengal in trade and commerce. It maintained traderelations with Basora, China, Pegu, Jedda, Tibet etc. In those days Chandannagar was a bigger centre of commerce than Calcutta.
In 1756 war broke out between France and Great Britain, and Colonel Robert Clive of the British East India Company and Admiral Charles Watson of the British Navy bombarded and captured Chandannagar on 23 March 1757. The town’s fortifications and many houses were demolished thereafter, and Chandannagar’s importance as a commercial center was eclipsed by that of Calcutta just downriver. Chandernagore was restored to the French in 1763, but retaken by the British in 1794 in the Napoleonic Wars.
The city was returned to France in 1816, along with a 3 sq mi (7.8 km2) enclave of surrounding territory. It was governed as part of French India until 1950, under the political control of the governor-general in Pondicherry. By 1900 the town’s former commercial importance was gone, and it was little more than a quiet suburb of Calcutta, with a population of 25,000 (1901). The European town was noted for its clean wide thoroughfares, with many elegant residences along the riverbank.

The first European named Louis Bonnaud who established the indigo plant along the cultivation of the crop in this country was an inhabitant of Chandannagar. Batakrishna Ghosh, the first founder of a cloth mill amongst Bengalis, was a resident of the place of this place. The factory for manufacturing European tincture and other medicines which Dinanath Chandra established here wasthe first such organisation in this area. Names of Bengal Chemical, Indian Drugs etc. were even then unknown. Indrakumar Chattopadhyay, the first maker and publisher of a wall map containing locations of places in Bengal, was a man of this place.
Chandannagar continued as the commercial center but completely banking on the local businessmen. Among them Indranarayan Chowdhury was the most prominent figure. In the year 1730 he was appointed the courtier of the Company. He received a gold medal from Louis xv, the King of France. He constructed the temple of Sri Nandadulal and a rest house in the year 1740.
Colonel Robert Clive of Brittish East India Company Limited and Admiral Watson of British army captured Chandannagar in March 1757. It was a turning point of Indian History. Chandannagar was again taken by French through a treaty with the British but again lost to them in 1794 but ultimately ruled the town from 1816 to 1950. Galakuti In 1832 the French administrators set up the Comite de Bienfaisance whose main aim was to help the poor people.In 1862, Ecole de saint mare was established, which is at present one of the best educational institutions of the town- Kanailal Vidyamandir. In 1867 alfred Curjon set up a convent for the upliftment of the women education system. In 1871, a big hospital was set up in Chandannagar with the help of Doctor Margon. In 1896, Durga charan Rakshit, the courtier of the French Government, achieved the distinction of becoming the first Indian to be conferred with the chevalier de legion d’Honour.
In 1915, twenty people from Chandannagar participated in World War I in support of the French people. The”Father of the Nation’ Mahatma Gandhi came to Pravartak in Chandannagar to inspire people in the freedom struggle in 1925 and again in December, 1927. On 12th March 1930 Mahatma Gandhi called the nation for the famous Dandi March against the infamous Salt Act. Yuba Samiti of Chandannagar came forward to support the movement with full enthusiasm.
In the thirties the Communist movement was taking shape in India and Chandannagar took a leading part in it under the guidance of Dr. Hiren Chatterjee, a commissioner general under the French Government. As Chandannagar was under the French rule, the party make it decided to make it their district headquarters.
India became independent of Britain in 1947, and in June 1948 the French Government held a plebiscite which found that 97% of Chandannagar’s residents wished to become part of India. In May 1950, the French allowed the Indian government to assume de facto control over Chandannagar, officially ceding the city to India on 2 February 1951. De jure transfer took place on 9 June 1952. On 2 October 1955 Chandannagar was integrated into West Bengal state and also became a part of India.