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Enjoy a weekend at more than two-centuries old Danish Tavern

27 March, 2020 01:25:12
Enjoy a weekend at more than two-centuries old Danish Tavern

“Gentlemen passing up and down the river may be accommodated with breakfast, dinner, supper, and lodging, and may depend on the charges being very reasonable, as his terms are ready money…Dinners dressed and sent out at short notice; also liquors sold by the single dozen, for ready cash. A good Billiard Table and Coffee-room with the Newspapers, etc.”

This was an advertisement carried in The Calcutta Gazette on March 16, 1786 by Mr. Parr, the owner of the London Tavern of Calcutta who had also taken up the proprietorship of the Danish Tavern at Serampore. Yes, you got it correct, the restored Danish Tavern of Serampore that has changed the tourist map of Bengal was a building mentioned more than 200 years ago in an advertisement! The next time you are having a cup of tea at the Danish Tavern and enjoying the sights and sounds of the European times, you might love to delve into the historical importance of the building too.

Even a record on importance of the Danish Tavern, is given in the book, The Good Old Days of Honorable John Company (1882). It says: “A trip up the river in cumbrous budge rows and pinnaces on pleasure excursions was a very common custom at the time. Large parties used to proceed as far as Bandel and other stations on the riverside and remain absent from home for days. A wayside inn, like those at Serampore, must therefore have been a treat for the voyagers; and that there should have been found room for two in one settlement, proves that the visitors to Serampore must have been many, and that the town itself was worthy of notice.”

By the end of the 18th century, Denmark declared war on Britain, and Lieutenant Colonel Carey, was sent to capture Serampore. French spies in Tranquebar and Serampore were arrested and deported back to France. Although Danish civilians and the Baptist missionaries continued to stay in Serampore, its military aid to the French cause was reduced. Later in 1845, it was sold off to the British. Such a building steeped in history has been restored to its old glory in a joint collaboration between The National Museum of Denmark and the Bengal government. The State Tourism Department has dusted off and spruced up this relic from the 18th century and one can dine at the café or even stay at the Danish Tavern. 

How to reach: 
You can take a train from Howrah station to Serampore or take the ferry from the Dhobi Ghat in Barrackpore to the Serampore jetty. It’s a much more picturesque route and you can see the Tavern from the river as you approach. Else you can also go by road from Kolkata.

Places to see:
You can book any of the five high-ceiling spacious rooms of the Danish Tavern on Bengal’s Tourism Department website. Along with the tavern, an old registration building built by the British has also been restored and now serves as a heritage canteen on the court complex. Also check out St Olav’s Church.

Story Tag:
  • Serampore, Danish Tavern

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