Historical knowledge

The Serampore Initiative

Restoration of the South Gate

Since its foundation in 1755, the Danish government compound has been the centre of Serampore’s administration. Today, the district headquarters and the Court lie behind the original eighteenth-century walls, and the place is known as “the Court Compound”. This area constitutes the historical core of the town, and from the Danish period we find the Government House, the main gate and wall, the water tank and the southern gate. In addition several interesting buildings from the British period are found inside the walls.

The Danish Government House is now being restored by the West Bengal Heritage Commission, and the Serampore Initiative contributes with the restoration of the South Gate, which earlier functioned as a back entrance into the building. The reestablishment of the South Gate will elucidate the historical value of the place and improve the surrounding urban environment to the benefit for both visitors and local citizens.

Present condition

Architecture

The gate building is symmetrical and consists of two rooms with a passage in between, connecting the compound with the street. Furthermore, traces are found of several smaller additions. They are, however, in complete ruin. Despite the state of the building, a number of fine details can still be appreciated, and the north side displays paired Ionic pilasters and classical triangular pediments above the windows.

Historical background

The South Gate dates from around 1800 and has been utilised as a guard house and detention. Danish sources refer to it as the “back gate”, and in the British period it was known by the Indian word “tannah”, meaning a guard house. When the railway was constructed in Serampore in 1854, the trade route moved from the river to the land, probably resulting in the “back gate” changing its function to the main gate for the British. It is not known when the building fell out of use, but it has been lying in obscurity for many years and the back passage into the compound now goes over the collapsed wall.

Consultant architect

Continuity, by architect Manish Chakraborti

Partners

  • West Bengal Heritage Commission
  • District Magistrate, Hooghly
  • Sub Divisional Officer, Serampore
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