Restoration work for Danish colony south gate begins

Kolkata, Thursday, August 1, 2013

An ambitious project initiated by Denmark to restore the decaying vestiges of Danish rule over its former colony of Serampore, about 25 km north of Kolkata, is crossing another milestone. While the restoration of the Danish government house has been on since 2009, work on restoring the south gate structure of the government house has just commenced.

The restoration of the south gate structure - a symmetrical building with two rooms with a passageway in between connecting the main street to the bungalow - is considered to be a vital component of the whole project that is being funded by the Danish Ministry of Culture and a Danish philanthropic enterprise by the name of Realdania, and executed by the National Museum of Denmark, the West Bengal Heritage Commission and the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), which is the manager of the south gate restoration project.

INTACH convener GM Kapur told TOI that the process of removing all encroachments in front of the south gateway structure has commenced. "We hope to start the actual restoration work by September and it should take a year to complete," he said.

The two rooms of the south gate structure leading to the 15,000 sq ft Danish Government House compound housed a guard room and a detention centre.

While the northern facade of this structure is richly ornamented with paired pilasters, Ionic capitals and triangular pediments, the south facade of the gateway structure is emphasized by rusticated masonry around the portal, but is hidden behind accumulated debris, vendor stalls and foliage. An electrical storehouse constructed in recent years obstructs the view to the ornate face of the gateway structure.

"The storehouse is being demolished, the vendor stalls are being relocated and the foliage is being removed now. We're working closely with the district authorities," said Kapur. The restoration will undertake a lot of effort. The south-eastern corner and a portion of the roof of this structure collapsed a few years ago and will have to be reconstructed meticulously using lime and mortar, said Kapur.

Renowned conservation architect Manish Chakraborti is supervising the project, which includes the restoration of St Olave's Church, the Catholic Church and other structures dating back to the late-18th and early-19th centuries.

Source: The Times of India

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