Chinsurah or Chuchura is the district headquarters of Hooghly. It is situated about 37 kilometers north of Kolkata by the western side of the Ganges. This town was previously a Dutch settlement till 1825. The town had a number of heritage monuments.
Chinsurah is famous for Clock Tower (Gharir More) which was constructed in the memory of King Edward VII in the year 1914. Chinsurah had a number of temples dedicated to different gods and goddesses including Lord Shiva of which the temple of Shandeswartala near the banks of the Hooghly river deserves special mention. It is not only the most important but also the oldest among the temples of Chinsurah. It was said that the Shiva lingam was installed by one Digambar Halder in the sixteenth century. Later a temple was established by Siddheswar Roychowdhury. Much later the present beautiful temple was constructed. This temple attracts a large number of pilgrims throughout the year and especially from the last day of the Bengali month of Chaitra (March-April) every year to the last day of Baisakh (April-May) when pouring the holy water of river Ganges on the lingam is regarded as “an act of great religious merit.”
The Gajan festival of Shandeswartala is very famous and attracts a huge number of devotees. It is observed for the remaining ten days of Chaitra and, therefore, is the most important festival of that place. The current temple is very beautiful to look at and it is pretty high. A flight of stairs from the Ganges ghat will lead you to this temple. When I visited the same more than four years ago on a cold winter December afternoon, the temple was closed, for which I could not take the photograph of the lingam; but the place was very peaceful.
The last Dutch Governor of Chinsurah Daniel Anthony Overbeck (1818-1825) made a present of two large brass drums (dhak) to Lord Shandeswar, one of which is still beaten during the celebration.
To visit the temple take any local train from Howrah going to Bandel and get down at Chuchura station. Take any auto or toto to reach the temple. It is about 5 kilometers from the station.
1. Hooghly Jelar Purakirti by Narendranath Bhattacharjee;
2. Hooghly District Gazetteer by Amiya Kumar Banerjee (published in October 1972).
Date of Posting: 13th April, 2020.