Unlike the rest of India which had been a British colony for two hundred
years, Chandannagar was ruled by France. So she had an interesting history
and Identity which had fascinated the historians throughout the world.
The French came to Chandannagar as also Bengal for the first time in 1673. In that year (1673-74) Duplessis, the French Commander,built a house after gathering a plot at Taldanga on the northern part of the present Chandannagar with the permission of Ibrahim Khan, the then Nawab of Bengal.
Then in 1687 the French commander Deslandes started business at Bandel in Hooghly; but coming across many inconveniences he tried to shift to another place in Hooghly and failed to receive the permission of the Nawab to build a new firm at the very place obtained by Duplessis at Chandannagar. At last in the next year, the French received the permission to carry on duty free business in Bengal, Bihar, Orissa on payment of Rs. 40,000/- to the Moghul Government (Aurungzeb was Emperor then). Deslandes laid the foundation of Chandannagar.
In course of time Chandannagar occupied the topmost position among all foreign settlements of Bengal in trade and commerce. It maintained traderelations with Basora, China, Pegu, Jedda, Tibet etc. In those days Chandannagar was a bigger centre of commerce than Calcutta.
The first European named Louis Bonnaud who established the indigo plant along the cultivation of the crop in this country was an inhabitant of Chandannagar. Batakrishna Ghosh, the first founder of a cloth mill amongst Bengalis, was a resident of the place of this place. The factory for manufacturing European tincture and other medicines which Dinanath Chandra established here wasthe first such organisation in this area. Names of Bengal Chemical, Indian Drugs etc. were even then unknown. Indrakumar Chattopadhyay, the first maker and publisher of a wall map containing locations of places in Bengal, was a man of this place.
Chandannagar continued as the commercial center but completely banking on the local businessmen. Among them Indranarayan Chowdhury was the most prominent figure. In the year 1730 he was appointed the courtier of the Company. He received a gold medal from Louis xv, the King of France. He constructed the temple of Sri Nandadulal and a rest house in the year 1740.
Colonel Robert Clive of Brittish East India Company Limited and Admiral Watson of British army captured Chandannagar in March 1757. It was a turning point of Indian History. Chandannagar was again taken by French through a treaty with the British but again lost to them in 1794 but ultimately ruled the town from 1816 to 1950. In 1832 the French administrators set up the Comite de Bienfaisance whose main aim was to help the poor people.In 1862, Ecole de saint mare was established, which is at present one of the best educational institutions of the town- Kanailal Vidyamandir. In 1867 alfred Curjon set up a convent for the upliftment of the women education system. In 1871, a big
hospital was set up in Chandannagar with the help of Doctor Margon. In 1896, Durga charan Rakshit, the courtier of the French Government, achieved the distinction of becoming the first Indian to be conferred with the chevalier de legion d'Honour.
In 1915, twenty people from Chandannagar participated in World War I in support of the French people. The"Father of the Nation' Mahatma Gandhi came to Pravartak in Chandannagar to inspire people in the freedom struggle in 1925 and again in December, 1927. On 12th March 1930 Mahatma Gandhi called the nation for the famous Dandi March against the infamous Salt Act. Yuba Samiti of Chandannagar came forward to support the movement with full enthusiasm.
In the thirties the Communist movement was taking shape in India and Chandannagar took a leading part in it under the guidance of Dr. Hiren Chatterjee, a commissioner general under the French Government. As Chandannagar was under the French rule, the party make it decided to make it their district headquarters.
In 1947, the French Government declared Chandannagar a free city and gave more power to Sasan Parishad. In June 1948, the French Government went for a pole to decide the status of the city and in the opinion poll a overwhelming majority of 97% people expressed their desire to merge with India.So, in May 1950, the French made a defacto transfer of Chandannagar to the Indian Government and on 2nd February, 1952 they made De Jure transfer which was approved by the French Republican Society on 11th April 1952. On 2nd October 1955, Chandannagar completely became a part of India.
By Courtesy : Sri Kalyan Chakravarty; Secretary, Chandannagar Heritage