Chinsurah or Chuchura is now the headquarters of Hooghly district of West Bengal. But Chinsurah was a Dutch colony during the period from 1635 to 1824. Though a long period has passed since then but the Dutch legacy still remained. One such is the tomb of Susanna Anna Maria, a Dutch lady who died in the year 1809.
Presently a protected monument under Archaelogical Survey of India (ASI), Kolkata circle, this ‘eye-catching’ monument situated in a large open compound of 60 bighas of land is an unique example of Indo-Dutch architecture. This two-storied white-coloured octagonal structure with arched gateways and slender columns is situated inside a large garden and can easily be spotted if one is travelling from Khadina more (crossing) to Chandannagar via Grand Trunk Road, it will fall on the left. Alternately, if you going to Chinsurah, this stucture will fall on the right. This monument is placed on a raised platform with a dome on the top.
Susanna Anna Maria was a Dutch lady of Chinurah belonging to the eighteenth century. She was married twice – her first husband was Peter Brueys a prominent merchant of that time. After the demise of Peter in 1783, Anna married to Thomas Yeats, an Englishman. Four years before her death Susanna made a will in which she bequeathed all her property which she inherited, to her son Louis Adrian. After the death of Anna Maria in 1809 she was buried in Ayesh Bagh. As per her will, she bequeathed four thousand rupees to a trust, the interest of which will be used for the repair of her own tomb at Ayesh Bagh and also to the tombs of her two husbands Brueys and Yeats, who were buried at the Dutch Cemetery in Chinsurah. The remaining surplus fund as per her last will and testament will go to a poor fund.
Locally there is a story that Anna Maria had married seven times and the tomb is known as “Saat Saheber Bibir Kobor” or the Grave of the wife of seven Europeans. When I visited this tomb last year in June, I found a number of people sitting or chatting with others in the raised platform. It was evening time. As the sky was overcast, the photos are a little under exposed.
In order to visit this monument, the nearest station is Chinsurah in the Howrah-Bandel section of Eastern railway. Chinsurah is about 37 kilometeres from Howrah and a less than an hour’s journey. From Chinsurah station, take either an auto or a toto to reach the monument of Anna Maria. From Chinsurah via G.T. Road, the tomb will be on your left.
1. Hooghly Jelar Purakriti by Narendranath Bhattacharjee.
2. Blog of Soham Chandra.
Date of posting: 28th July, 2019.