Located approximately 50kms to the north of Calcutta (Kolkata) along the west bank of the Hooghly river are a string of settlements which form a unique ensemble of erstwhile trading posts of European powers Dutch (Chinsurah), French (Chandernagore), Danish (Serampore) and Portuguese (Bandel) in close proximity. Fondly known as the "Europe on the Ganges" this ensemble is a unique cultural landscape, an exceptional centre of maritime trade in the 17th Century witness to the rise and fall of colonial ambitions. A testimony to the confluence of cultures and a starting point of the "Contemporary Bengali Culture" manifested in the form of architecture, town planning, literature and art that developed in the region.
The Dutch factory was established in Chinsurah by the 1655, known as the Fort Gustavus and it soon became a prosperous trading town. A multi-cultural trading town, it was home to Dutch, Armenian and native Bengali merchants who traded in saltpetre, spices, cotton and indigo through the 17th to 19th century. It witnessed the fights for power and supremacy fought between the various colonial powers French, Dutch & the English on the Indian soil and changed hands between the British and the Dutch. With the defeat of Siraj-ud-Duala the Nawab of Bengal in the Battle of Plassey in 1757 the British established supremacy in Bengal. The defeat of the Dutch at Battle of Biddera 1759 to the British, the Dutch were reduced to merely traders in the region with their powers taken away. In 1825, Chinsurah was formally ceded to the British in exchange for the islands in the Malay peninsula.
Easily accessible from Kolkata via road and rail, Chinsurah today functions as a suburb to Kolkata. The seat of the district administration, it forms a part of the Kolkata Metropolitan Area yet has its independent Municipality as well.