Partner: The Krishnanagar Academy
Claimed to be named after Krishna Chandra Ray, this town on the banks of the Jalangi river, was an important centre for culture and literature. On the walking programme in December 2017 we will visit Krishnanagar, but before heading there, we will stop at Maheshganj and visit Balakhana. Balakhana is a beautiful mansion erected by a French indigo planter nearly 200 years ago, around the time when indigo trade was flourishing in this part of the country.
A short boat ride away is Ghurni, a neighbourhood of clay artists. They use the clay from the river and are proficient in making clay sculptures, ranging from realistic miniatures to life size statues. It is said that Krishnachandra Ray, being a connoisseur of the arts, had set up this artists neighbourhood, by inviting a few talented clay artists. It is also said that he began the tradition of Jagadhatri Puja, which is still celebrated with grandeur.
A magnificent example of grand architecture can be seen in Ghurni, in the Roman Catholic Church which is 130 years old. The most imposing building in this region however is the Rajbari, the palace built during the reign of Krishna Chandra Ray, which would have also been the place where the legendary court jester Gopal Bhand entertained the Maharaja. The star attraction is a set of old canons used in Plassey. Legend has it they were gifted by Lord Clive to Krishnachandra.
Partner: Southend-on-Sea Borough Council
Southend is a seaside resort town that marks the point where the Thames Estuary joins the North Sea. It’s famous pleasure pier is the longest in the world at 1.34 Miles. The area attracts holiday makers but is also known as a haven for artists. The Hindu community here holds of the biggest Ganesh Puja celebrations outside of India. Southend-on Sea Borough Council is at the start of an exciting 12 months that will see the Borough celebrate its 125th year. To mark this milestone, the council will deliver a vibrant programme of events in 2017; this will begin with the “Poppies:Wave” exhibit, with the Silk River “finale” being the culminating celebration. SBC wish to commemorate the borough’s eclectic history, and see the project as a welcome addition to the cultural programme beginning in January.
It is hoped that the project will inform those from Southend and further afield of the borough’s varied social history. In particular we are eager to explore the similarities between ourselves and our partner city, Krishnanagar: these include the importance of the creative arts, as well as the fishing trade and food manufacture. Drawing upon various sites of interest we hope to offer an engaging, multifaceted perspective on Southend’s story.