Chandernagore (Chandannagar, Chandernagar, Chandernagor, Chandernagore) is a small city located 30 kilometers north of Kolkata, in West Bengal, India. Situated along the banks of river Ganga, the city has been able to maintain a separate identity different from all other cities and abide by her own characteristics. The "City of Liberty" has always attracted people from all over the world due to her indescribable beauty. Though the total area is a meagre 19 square kilometers having a population of only over 150 thousands, she has managed to maintain a distinct place not only on the map of India but also on that of the world. This small town for over a period of 300 years has a unique blend of culture and heritage which is unparalleled in history. Chandannagar is well connected to Kolkata by railways, roadways and river and it takes about an hour to reach the place. The people of Chandanngore have excelled in all the fields varying from literature and education to culture, sports and arts throughout history. Chandannagore hosts many tourist places like Museums, the Strand, Churches, Temples, Rabindra Bhaban, birth places of many celebrities and many other spots some of which are not so well known but nevertheless a treat for the tourists and historians.
By Road: Chandannagore is 37 km by road from Kolkata via G.T.Road or Delhi road. Taxis and private cars in Kolkata are easily available to approach Chandannagore. Since National Golden Quadilateral is almost completed, you can use Bombay highway from Calcutta. This new highway is very fast, 4 laned and dodges traffic congestion near Bally bridge.
By Rail: Local trains from Howrah through Eastern Railway main line run very frequently (peak frequency one train every 10 or 12 minutes). Many important express and passenger trains halt here. If you are coming from Calcutta (Kolkata) you can catch either of these local suburban trains: Burdwan via main line, Bandel local, Katwa local, Pandooah loacl , Memari local. Tickets prices for local train is Rs.10 one way. Normally, there is a very high rush during morning and evening hours as a large number of people travel to and back from Kolkata for work,etc. It should be noted that , you can get in to chandannagar by both Mankundu & Chandannagar Stations. If you are planning to get down at mankundu station from howrah station , go for always local trains only & ask other passengers if the train will stop at mankundu or not. Because at rush hour in the evening & sometimes in the morning there are some trains which don't stop at mankundu.
By Air: Nearest airport is at Kolkata (Kolkata Airport), which is airlinked with all major Indian and international cities. Chandannagore is only 40 km by road from the airport. Please check Flight Schedules from the airport. If you want to go to airport from Chandernagore, the best option will be to hire a car. The cab will charge around Rs. 500-600 and will take around 1.5 hours- 2 hours depending upon traffic.
By Water: Government of West Bengal (West Bengal Surface Transport Corporation) operates river services across river Hooghly (Ganga) and also between Chandannagore and Kolkata and Belur.
You can rent a car if you wish. In the rail station itself, you will find innumerable rickshaws waiting and calling you. Talk to one of them. It should not take more than Rs. 150/- to visit the entire city. This is an over estimate. Try to burgain as much as you can. In the evening, leave the rickshaw and take a leisurely stroll in the promenade in Chandannagar strand. You can also book an autorickshaw to get around in Chandannagar. There is an excellent service by this autorikshaws.You can connect yourself through autorickshaws to both Chandannagar & Mankundu Station from Strand.Autorickshaw is a small three wheeler van, similar to Tuk Tuk's of Thailand. There are dirt cheap (around Rs. 3-5) and usually you have to travel with a group of people (say 4 or 5 people). Normally, these autorickshaw ply on designated routes, but you can hire them personally to take you to desired place.
Chandernagore is famous for its Jagatdhatri Puja. It takes place just one month after the Durga Puja, usually in the month of November. The pandals, street lightings, idols - everything will make you spellbound. Millions of people from different parts of the country come here during that period. If you are crowd averse, then its better for you to avoid Chandernagore during that time. Though, the atomosphere then is electrifying, and the whole city buzzes with exuberance. The emersion of idols gets marked with illuminated processions.
Residences of famous personalities: The place hosts a galaxy of famous personalities who had strong impact not only on contemporary society but also affected Indian History. The revolutionary leader Rash Behari Bose, Kanailal Datta and the great social reformer Sri Harihar Seth belonged to this place.
Apart from these, there are a number of amusement parks in Chandernagore, which attracts millions of picnic lovers during the winter. Wonderland Amusement Park, operated by KMDA is the most popular one, which is located near the Chandernagore Rail Station. Chhuti, opearted by Chandernagore Municipal Corporation is another one which is located near Delhi Road.
Another big crowd puller in Chandernagore is Christmas celebration. Chandannagar has a very old church in the middle of Barabazar and it is point of major attraction during Christmas for people of all faiths.
You can also enjoy Charak puja in Hospital ground in Laxmigung street and Jyotimore crossing. during Bengali New Year. In Charak puja, a groups of men and women, hang from a bamboo stick of 10 or 15 foot height and they were swinged in a circular direction. Good art to see!!!
Sri Aurobindo: Chandannagor, a French colony in India, was the hiding place of Sri Aurobindo during middle of February to 1st April, 1910. He arrived on the strand area from Kolkatta (Calcutta - British India)and stayed all the time at Gondalpara at Balaichandra De's house.
Chandannagar is a small city. There is not much to do. Nowadays, the local civic authority and some local clubs are trying to promote the city as an adventure sports hub.
Chandernagore was once called Farashdanga. At that time, the local handloom industry was at its peak. Farashdanga Dhooti (A traditional dress for bengali men), saree were famous not only in bengal, but in other parts of the country also. Now also, the industry exists, though its getting sicker and sicker everyday. You can go to the place called Halderpara, where some of them still exist.
There are innumerable shops where you get whatever you want. From most modern civic amenities to apparels, everything is available. There are few air conditioned shopping malls also present there. Buy a souvenir from there if you wish.
There is also new air conditioned mall coming up in Laxmigung Bazar. The mall is supposed to house all local and national brands.
The major shopping area in Chandernagore is concentrated in the Bagbazar and Laxmigung Bazar area. During peak seasons, i.e. Durga puja and Jagadhatri puja, streets are jostling with people buying cloths, accessories etc.
Chandernagore is famous for its sweets. Suryakumar Modak, a famous confectioner, apparently invented a new sweet named Jolbhora Sandesh once upon a time. Nowadays, his grandsons operate more than one sweet shops in the city. Don't forget to have a taste of jolbhora. Apart from this, the other sweets and deserts are also very tasty and delicious. Names of few famous sweet shops are listed below -
Apart from these, few very good restaurants are also available, where you get a wide range of food from Chinese to Indian. few of them are -
Street food in Chandernagore is really awesome. However, it is not always advisable to eat outside food specially from vendors as they maintain poor hygiene standards. Some of the places where you can go to tease your taste buds are -
Liquor shops are available throughout the city, where you get a vast variety of foreign liquors. Few bars are also in operation. Chandernagore was once famous for its home-made country liquor industry. Its still very much alive on the other side of the railway track (though illegally operated). Prudence says: don't venture. You never know what can happen to you after that. Also one should refrain oneself from drinking in open public places as it is deemed to bad in Indian culture.
Ganesh Sweets in Laxmigunj Bazar is famous for its lassi. It's a treat to your thirst in the hot and humid days of summer.
There is a scarcity of good hotels in Chandernagore. One has to book well in advance if you plan to visit the city. Few options which are available are-
KMDA Park Rest House - Set amidst the beautiful garden in the amusement park called Wonderland. Operated by KMDA.
The first one can be booked through the following no. +91 33 26835840. This is the no. of Rabindra Bhaban. If it is full, they should be able to help you with the phone no. of the second place.
Chandernagore is very close to most other one time non-british colonies. Chinsurah, once held by Dutch is just 5 km away from Chandernagore. Former Portuguese settlement Bandel and Danish settlement Serampore are also nearby. One can visit Hangseswari Temple in Bansberia, Tarakeswar, Furfura Sharif in Jangipara, Belur Math also from Chandernagore.