Piping hot coffee could soon welcome guests in what was once a double-storied Danish tavern dating back to the second-half of 18th century in West Bengal's Serampore, celebrated for its Indo-Danish cultural heritage.
Thanks to a restoration project in progress under the National Museum of Denmark's 'Serampore Initiative', the Danish tavern along the banks of the river Hooghly is being shaped into a coffee house, closely resembling the famed Coffee House in Kolkata. The pre-Independence hang-out zone for intellectuals and students is celebrated for being a hub of debate, a crucial aspect of the cultural crucible of Bengal.
"We created an open space so that the ground floor can communicate with the upper floor, a bit like the Coffee House, and immediately the idea of a coffee house in the tavern came up. The old Danish tavern will have a coffee house in the central space and limited accommodation to host tourists," Manish Chakrabarti, a conservation architect executing the restoration work, said here on World Heritage Day.
Chakrabarti said the state tourism department will look after the services.
"The tourism department will do the furnishings, services, electrical connections and air-conditioning, etc. The work is on and we have a timeline to launch it at the end of the year. It overlooks the river and the scenery is beautiful," he said.
Supervised by INTACH, the mammoth initiative has already seen success with the opening of the 210-year-old St. Olav's Church in 2016.
As per the National Museum of Denmark's website, in 1755, local ruler of Bengal Nawab Alivardi Khan granted the Danish Asiatic Company the right to establish a trading post at Serampore (Srirampur) on the banks of the river Hooghly in Bengal, about 25 km north of Calcutta (now called Kolkata).
The aim was to acquire commodities such as silk and cotton textiles as well as the important saltpetre, used for production of black powder.
The trading post was given the official Danish name of Frederiksnagore, though in daily use the Indian name of Serampore or Srirampur was maintained.
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