Serampore

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Serampore
City
The Radhaballav temple
The Radhaballav temple
Serampore is located in West Bengal
Serampore
Serampore
Location in West Bengal, India
Coordinates: 22°45′N 88°20′E / 22.75°N 88.34°E / 22.75; 88.34Coordinates: 22°45′N 88°20′E / 22.75°N 88.34°E / 22.75; 88.34
Country  India
State West Bengal
District Hooghly
Elevation 17 m (56 ft)
Population (2001)
 • Total 197,955
Languages
 • Official Bengali, English
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
PIN 712201,712202, 712203 ,712204
Lok Sabha constituency Sreerampur
Vidhan Sabha constituency Sreerampur

Serampore (Bengali: শ্রীরামপুর) (also called Serampur, Srirampur, Srirampore, Shreerampur, Shreerampore, Shrirampur, Shrirampore, Srerampore) is a city and a municipality in Hooghly district in the Indian state of West Bengal. It is a part of the area covered by Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority.[1] It is a pre-colonial town on the west bank of the Hooghly River. It was part of Danish India under the name Frederiksnagore from 1755 to 1845. Its current Municipality Chairman is Amiya Mukherjee.[citation needed]

Geography[edit]

Serampore has an average elevation of 17 m (56 ft).[citation needed]

History[edit]

The town is several centuries old and has witnessed both the growth and decline of the feudal system, the coming of the Danes and their settlement and then a cultural renaissance (known as the Bengal Renaissance) initiated by the British following the construction of the east Indian railway, along with subsequent industrial development.

Growth[edit]

There were three main phases in the process of urbanisation of Serampore:

  1. The Pre-urbanisation phase (the period before 1755);
  2. The Urbanisation phase (from 1755 to 1854); and
  3. The Industrialisation phase (1854 to 1947).

Before the Mughal era, the region between the Saraswati and Hoogli rivers was a thriving local community. Various ruins of Hindu temples are still found in Serampore, such as:

  • Henry Martin's Pagoda,
  • The temple of Radhaballabhjeu in Ballabhpur (18th century),
  • The Ram-Sita temple in Sripur and
  • Gauranga in Chatra dating back to the 16th century.
  • Hari Sabha (Buttala)
  • Sashan Kali Mandir
  • Satimata Mandir, in B. P. Dey Street.

The Jagannath temple of Mahesh is dated to 1755. When Bengal came under the command of Sri Chaitanya's Vaisnavism in the fifteenth century, these places became pre-eminent as a Hindu pilgrim centre.

Raja Manohar Roy Zaminder of Sheoraphuli built the temple of Ram-Sita in Sripur in 1753, and his son Ram Chandra Roy then later dedicated the villages of Sripur, Gopinathpur and Manoharpur as devottara land in the service of the deity. Since then the temple was taken care by Raja Nirmal Chandra Ghosh and the 'Saraphuli Raj Debuttar Estate'. In present times, the temple and its premises fall under the surveillance of the 'Sheoraphuli Rajbari'.

It is probable that the name 'Srirampur' originated either from 'Sripur', 'Sri Ram' or both, or it could originate from 'Seetarampore' as there was a very famous 'Ram-Seeta' temple. Here some aristocratic localities came up, namely Goswamipara, Lahiripara, Mukherjeepara, Bhattacharyapara, Chakravartipara etc., whose inhabitants were Brahmins of different groups and sects.

After this there arose the need for local artisana along with "service class" people who came from the neighbouring villages and settled on granted land. In this way, several colonies such as Patuapara, Kumarpara, Dhulipara, Goalpara, Dutta Bagan, Khash Bagan etc. were formed. This along with the fact that Sheoraphuli was a collecting centre for local marketable goods produced in different parts of Hughli, induced many families - the Barujibis, Duttas, Deys, Das etc. - to come to settle here before 1755.

The cultivating classes settled in such places as Sadgoppara, Mannapara, Lankabaganpara. The Jele-Kaibarta and 'Sani' Muchi, were already in the locality from the beginning, and had their own areasa. The local Sunni Muslims, descendants of Mughal soldiers, traders and artisans, lived in Mullickpara, Mussalman Para and here a mosque still bears witness to their existence.

During the Mughal period, Akna [Now called Akra Bati Lane] and Mahesh were heavily populated. The hot humid climate of the area was congenial for the textile industry and the local land was well known for its cotton and silk weaving. The Hindu weavers used to manufacture fine cotton pieces, while the Muslim weavers monopolised silk manufacture. In the fertile land, paddy, jute and betel-leaf were grown in abundance. The Kaibartta used the marshy land for fishing.

In pre-urbanisation age, communication was mainly by way of the river. Besides this, there was the 'Badshahi Sadak' or the grand trunk road. Before Danes arrived in this region, the Sheoraphuli Hat was the main internal trade centre and had close commercial links with Barisal, Khulna, Dhaka, Mymensingh, Rajshahi and other districts of East Bengal (now Bangladesh).

Between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries, many foreign merchants, such as the French, Portuguese and Dutch - established their trading outposts, or "Kuthis" here and were involved in trade and commerce.

During the Muslim period, the villagers on the bank of the Hooghly and Saraswati were included in the zamindaries of Sheoraphuli; these feudal lords not only collected rent but also dispensed justice.

Danish rule[edit]

Portrait of Johannes Søbøtker Hohlenberg, leader of the Danish trade mission in Serampore, painted by Christian Albrecht Jensen in 1826

The urbanization phase began with the acquisition of land in the area by the Danes in the early eighteenth century, as part of the Danish colonial empire. In 1755, the Danish East India Company sent a representative from its Tranquebar office to the Nawab of Bengal. Their intention was to secure a Parwana (district jurisdiction) allowing them the right to do business in Bengal. They obtained the parwana by paying fifty thousand rupees in cash to Nawab Alivardi Khan, along with many gifts, acquiring three bighas of land at Sripur on the riverfront and then another fifty-seven bighas at Akna for the building of a new factory and port, which the Danes governed from Tranquebar. Subsequently, the Danes acquired the Serampore, Akna and Pearapur mahals by paying an annual rent of 1601 rupees to the zamindar (tax farmer) of Sheoraphuli. By 1770 the Danish merchants were beginning to make significant progress in trade and commerce in the area. Danish prosperity was assisted by the able administrative performance of Colonel Ole Bie, who was appointed the first Crown regent of Serampore in 1776.

The Danes also established a bazaar (the present Tin Bazaar) and allowed private godowns, or warehouses to be maintained. Gradually, the town developed and became elegant and prosperous, and merchants of both foreign and indigenous origin began to arrive and live there.

Initially the Danes were dependent on their factors for obtaining commodities (primarily silk and cotton fabrics), but they later got involved in collection of merchandise directly from the producers, and offered incentives to the artisans in the form of earnest money for making high quality products. They also created a class of trading middlemen, such as agents, banias, mutsuddis, and stevedores.

Sobharan Basak and Anandaram Dhoba, the two local textile businessmen, were appointed as the first 'factors' for the Danes. Nandalal Chakravarty was their first agent, and subsequently he was promoted to "Dewan". Patita Paban Roy, who came from Katulpur in Bankura, and Saphali Ram Dey were appointed agents for the supplying of saltpetre. Brothers Raghuram and Raghavram Goswami came to Serampore from their home village of Patuli, to seek their fortune. Raghuram secured a job at the commissariat of the Danish Governor, while Raghavram became the official moneylender to the factory. Between them, they amassed a huge fortune acquired vast lands and founded an aristocratic colony on the western side of Serampore with their family. Their descendants still live in Serampore today.

As a sop to the weavers of Akna and Mohanpur villages, the Danes gave advances for both cotton and fine silk products. The merchants also established their own factory to produce fine cloths. They collected 'Hammer' and 'Luckline' ropes for ships, various other kinds of ropes and agricultural produce. They inspired the cultivators of Pearapur to cultivate indigo in addition to paddy rice. Mr. Princep was their indigo agent.

Another notable source of their income was the Hoondi business. Colonel Ole Bie was also interested in making Serampore a charming, elegant, attractive tourist resort. It became a well-protected town and the maintenance of law and order was well developed. To facilitate municipal administrative and judicial work, a new Court House was built and a metalled road was laid on the river bank and magnificent palatial buildings.

The local civil administration, however was carried out by a prototype of a municipality known as the 'Village Committee', with Ole Bie was its Governor.

Boat people paddle between Barrackpore and Serampore on the Hooghly river.

Marshman and Carey[edit]

The beginning of the nineteenth century can be considered the most significant period in the history of Serampore, with the arrival of four English missionaries - Joshua Marshman, Hannah Marshman, William Carey, and Willam Ward - who between them were the architects of the Serampore renaissance. Although they came chiefly for the purpose of preaching Christianity, they dedicated themselves to the service of ailing and distressed people in and around the town, spreading education, social reforms and social reconstruction.

They established more than a hundred 'monitorial' schools in the region. Hannah Marshman established the first Girls' School at Serampore, which received much public approval. Carey made an outstanding contribution by founding the Serampore Mission Press in 1800 where the wooden Bangla types made by Panchanan Karmakar were installed.

Perhaps the crowning work of Carey and his two associates was the establishment of the Serampore College in 1818 which acts both as a university through the Senate of Serampore College (University) and as an individual college, Serampore College. The founders had to spend their last farthing on the construction of its magnificent buildings. It was also the first college in Asia to award a degree.

Carey became famous as the father of Bangla prose. The Mission Press published three books - the Bangla translation of the Bible, Hitopadesh and Kathopakathan. Munshi Ramram Basu, the pundit appointed by Carey, brought out Pratapaditya Charit and the Bangla versions of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The first issue of the second Bangla daily, Samachar Darpan came out in 1818 under the editorship of Carey.

At the same time, the Serampore Mission Press brought out the English daily, A Friend of India (precursor to The Statesman). Another outstanding contribution of the missionaries was the installation of India's first paper mill,in Bot Tala,set up by John Clark Marshman (the son of Joshua and Hannah Marshman) which was powered by a steam engine.

Between 1801 and 1832 the Serampore Mission Press printed 212,000 copies of books in 40 different languages. In this cultural development, the local inhabitants had only a passive role. Only a few among the affluent, comprising absentee landlords and businessmen, seized the opportunity for higher education by sending their children to the academic institutions of the missionaries. On the other hand, people belonging to the lower economic stratum sent their children to the monitorial schools, which provided a basic education. In the process, there emerged a class of local gentry, who had a favourable attitude towards the missionaries.

Later years[edit]

Boatmen tying their boats after returning from fishing.

Between 1801 and 1839 Danish trade and commerce as well as the civic life of Serampore experienced a severe decline. While in 1803, 113 European ships were loaded and unloaded at Serampore port, there was only 1 in 1815. The aggressive attitude of the British merchants located in Calcutta and their continuous harassment of the Danes in Serampore hit the company severely. The situation became so critical that the Danish Governor, Pater Hansen, was constrained to sell off the entire property to the English for a paltry sum of 1.2 million rupees on 11 October 1845.

During the last days of Danish rule in Serampore, the entire civic administration was completely disrupted.

British rule[edit]

On 11 October 1845, it was sold to Britain, which integrated it in British India and officially restored the Bengali name.

After taking possession of the town, the British began to look after its civic amenities and the earlier 'Village Committee' was transformed into the Serampore Municipality in 1865. Rishra and Konnagar were also included in it.

At that time, the affluent high caste section of the Serampore population displayed no sign of modernisation, nor did they subscribe to an urban ethos. The Indian economy during the period was passing through a severe recession. There was continuous migration of rural people to the urban centres. Landless labourers from Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Orissa came to Serampore in search of employment. When the second Jute Mill was opened in 1866 in Serampore (the first one was set up in Rishra in 1855) the town began to grow as an industrial town. Along with the Jute mills, many other subsidiary factories came up in the erstwhile rural areas within or on the fringes of the town.

Thus, with the capital investment of the British the commercial town of Serampore was transformed into an industrial one. The deciding force behind the process was the laying of the railway line from Howrah to Burdwan in 1854. It ushered in a great change in the social composition of the town. Between 1866 and 1915, six more jute mills were established in Rishra, Serampore and Gondolpara. The local landlords, thikadars and mill-owners made arrangements for the habitation of the labour force around the factories. Thus at Mahesh, Akna, and Tarapukur mouzas adjacent to the Ganges, workers' colonies like Oriyabasti, Gayaparabasti, Chhapra basti and Telengipara basti were established. Because of the arrival of these migrant workers, the population in Serampore increased from 24,440 to 44,451 between 1872 and 1901. These habitations of labourers were mere unhygienic, overcrowded slums full of stench. There was no provision for even a minimum of civic amenities in their dwellings.

In 1914, an arrangement was made to supply filtered potable water from the Municipality. The Town Hall was established in memory of Kishori Lal Goswami in 1927. At the initiative of the Government, the weaving school was founded during the thirties, and later on it was raised to the status of a Textile College. The municipality began to provide electricity in 1938. After fifty years of British possession, Serampore was swept by the waves of a Bengali cultural and nationalist movement. The spirit of nationalism influenced many youths from middle-class families. It resulted in the decline of foreign investment in industries. But there was an increase in indigenous investment. The Bangalakshmi Cotton Mill was founded out of the swadeshi spirit. From the beginning of the twentieth century many primary schools and educational institutions were set up at Serampore. The descendants of some of the older aristocratic families donated their residential buildings for benevolent purposes.

Post 1947[edit]

Since 1947, Serampore has become a satellite of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) and as such its process of urbanisation and change is as yet still incomplete. Now Serampore is one of the most developed towns in the main line region of Howrah.

Demographics[edit]

As of 2001 India census,[2] Serampore had a population of 197,955. Males constitute 53% of the population and females 47%. Serampore has an average literacy rate of 77%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 81%, and female literacy is 73%. In Serampore, 8% of the population is under 6 years of age.

Boats carrying passengers to Barrackpore

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Famous University/Board/College[edit]

  • Serampore College
  • Serampore Textile Engineering College
  • Suro Bharati Sangeet Kala Kendra (All India Board of music and fine arts Education)
  • Serampore Girls' College

Famous spots[edit]

There are some famous spots in the city. They are:

See also[edit]

For more information on the early Serampore missionaries, see:

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Base Map of Kolkata Metroploitan area". Kolkata Metroploitan Development Authority. Retrieved 3 September 2007. 
  2. ^ "Census of India 2001: Data from the 2001 Census, including cities, villages and towns (Provisional)". Census Commission of India. Archived from the original on 2004-06-16. Retrieved 2008-11-01.