The district of Hooghly is just 47 km north of Kolkata and is steeped in history and heritage. Dotted with several small but important towns, the district is testimony to the rule of foreign settlers-the British and Portuguese at Hooghly, the Dutch at Chinsurah, the French at Chandernagore, and the Germans and Austrians at Bhadreswar. The Portuguese were the first to settle here in 1537, but were defeated by by Shah Jahan in 1632. The British East India Company then followed and set up a factory here in 1651. Chandannagore (Chandernagore) was once a French colony and is still under the influence of French language and culture. Chinsurah was a Dutch settlement from 1656 to 1825. It was later exchanged by the Dutch for the British-held Indonesian island of Sumatra in 1825. The Hooghly, as the Ganga River is called here, dominates the landscape and people use ferries to cross from one town to another.

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