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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

European Calcutta

Like other cities Calcutta has its legend.

In 1530, the Portuguese sailors began to open up trade in Bengal. The river Hoogly was easily navigable. The ships anchored at Garden Reach and Betor the opposite banks of the Hoogly river. Whenever the ships arrived from Goa, incalculable thatched houses were erected; commercials and markets were flaunted at the bank of the river. The place looked like a village fair. Silk, muslin, lac, sugar, rice were filled in the budgreows  from Baranagar, Dakineshwar, and Aagarpara which were carried to the Big ships waiting at the Hoogly. The ships were encumbered with cargo and set off to Goa, the temporary and ad hoc houses of bamboo and straw were burnt by the Portuguese to leave no trace of their arrival. During that time there were no Taverns in India therefore the Portuguese took shelter in their ships. Later  in 1835, the first tavern of India was built at Dalhousie “ The Great Eastern Hotel” called the Auckland Hotel by David Wilson. It was also know as the Wilson Hotel.
After the Portuguese the French arrived in Bengal, they built a French colony at Chandanagar in 1673, they had taken permission from the Nawab  Ibram Khan to set up a permanent trading centre in 1688 at the bank of the river Hoogly.
In 1756, Colonial Robert Clive of East India Company and Admiral Watson of British Navy attacked the French and captured Chandanagar .

After the French, the Armenians arrived as traders from Armenia(east of Turkey) they established their permanent settlement at Chinsura, later they moved to Calcutta and made contributions in developing Calcutta. The Armenian church at Dalhousie(B.B.D BAG)  still stands as one of the evidence. At the same time the Dutch came to Bengal they set up their factories and trading centers at Chinsura.  The Dutch built their second colony at Baranagore, near Calcutta, which was mainly a port and loading dock for Dutch ships.  
Job Charnok an employee of the East India Company, he was born in Lancashire, England. He came to India in 1655. He was posted in Patna(Bihar). On 24th August 1690 he arrived at Sutanuti in Bengal, there were three villages on the eastern bank of the river hoogly- Kalikata, Sutanuti and Gobinda pore with approximately a population of three hundred inhabitants. It is said that the fourth village was Chitpore from which a long road lead to Kalighat in the south, the path lead through a tiger infected jungle, later this jungle was cleared by the British hence maidan came into existence here it was used as a landing ground for the helicopters. A hermit named Chowranghi built a Shiva temple on the way , now the temple has been replaced by the Asiatic Society at Park Street. The road is still called the Chowranghi road.
Job Charnok is believed to be the founder of Calcutta however some believe the Seths to be the one who found Calcutta. The East India Company commenced by attempting merely to establish factories for their agents, and places of deposit for their goods. In order to protect them they erected several forts in India. Fort William was built at Dalhousie in the White Town. At the commencement of the East India Company’s operations, under the reign of Elizabeth, the Company was permitted for the purpose of profitably carrying on its trade with India, to export an annual value of £30,000 in silver, gold, and foreign coins.

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