ASI found burials in West Bengal
GS PAPER I: Indian culture will cover the salient aspects of Art Forms, literature and Architecture from ancient to modern times.
Context: The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has stumbled upon some interesting bits of history. It has found more graves during a recent restoration of the Danish cemetery in West Bengal’s Serampore town.
- Along the bend of the river Hooghly in Serampore, there are a few remnants of a Danish settlement, a tavern, a church and a little-known cemetery dating to as early as 1770.
- A total of 61 graves in burial places or cemeteries are taken up for the restoration.
- The cemetery was a potential treasure trove of information about the Danish settlement in Serampore, which is more than 200 years old.
- The earliest of these graves date back to 1787 CE. The tomb of Colonel Krefting, the Danish Chief and Director, who died in 1828 CE, is here.
- The Danish Governor, Hohlenburg, after his death in c.1833, was interred in this cemetery.
- The famous author of the Lepcha language dictionary, General Mainswaring, was also buried here. At least five graves have a tomb stones with epitaph, four in English and one in Danish.
- The restoration of the centrally protected monument started in 2020 after some parts of the cemetery suffered damage due to falling trees during cyclone Amphan.
- Unlike the Dutch and French cemeteries, the Danish cemetery is less ornate, and the height of the tombs is less compared to other European cemeteries in and around Kolkata
- Danes acquired land in Serampore from the Nawab of Bengal in the mid-18th century.
- Among the Danish structures like St. Olav’s Church, locally known as the Danish Church, was built between 1800 and 1826.
- Serampore on the banks of Hooghly served as a colony of Denmark from 1750 to 1845. Another prominent Danish structure, Danish Tavern, located on the riverfront, has been recently restored.
- The cemetery is located only a few hundred metres from the Danish Tavern that has recently become an important tourist destination.