Serampore, a sub-divisional town in Hooghly district of West Bengal is only about 18 kilometres from Howrah. It is the eight station in Howrah-Bandel line of the Eastern Railway. The Grand Trunk Road passes through this town. The town can be reached either by road or by water; other than the rail route. This town has a rich history to offer. The Danes named this town as Fredericknagar in 1757 in the name of the then King Frederick V of Denmark.
The town has a number of heritage structures including some old temples. One such temple was Radhaballav Temple built by Rudraram Pandit of Chatra in 1677 with the assistance of other disciples. The presiding deity is Radhaballav. The idol was carved out of touchstone. From the same stone two other idols were prepared – Shyamsundar of Khardaha and Nandadulal of Saibon, both situated in North 24 Parganas district
By the side of the Ganges and within the grounds of Howrah waterworks, there stand an old aatchala structure. This temple was formerly the temple of Radhaballav which was built by Rudraram Pandit in 1677 A.D.
Possibly due to “riparian erosion”, the temple was abandoned. Later a new 60 feet aatchala temple was built a little far away by Nayanchand Mallick of Calcutta in 1764 and the deities of Radhaballav and Radhika are being worshipped since then.
When the old aatchala shrine was abandoned from the middle of the eighteenth century, it was purchased by Rev David Brown. At that time Serampore was under the rule of the Danish. The renowned missionary Henry Martin lived in it for some years. He converted this shrine into a Christian chapel. Then it became popular as Henry Martin’s Pagoda. Later with the establishment of a number of churches, this structure loses its importance and, it again became a deserted place.
Later a distillery was started. And here rum was produced. When I visited the pagoda last year I found that restoration work was in progress. A number of labourers were busy at work. I somehow entered inside the shrine and, to my utter surprise, found intricate terracotta decorations on the walls. It seemed to me that previously this old temple was decorated with exquisite terracotta works
On my way to the pagoda, I found a deserted house at a distance on my left. It was Aldin House which was pretty old and built during the time of Mughals.
1. Hooghly Jelar Purakirti by Narendranath Bhattacharjee
2. Hooghly District Gazetteers by Amiya Kumar Banerjee (October 1972).
Date of Posting: 18th April, 2020.