Bengal church restoration project, bags UNESCO Heritage award
This project was chosen as one of the best among the 13 winning restoration projects from six countries.
The restoration project, led by conservation architect Manish Chakraborti and implemented by Asish Mukherjee of Mascon, was supported by Danish conservation architects who brought back to life this crucial aspect of Indo-Danish heritage this year.
The Church, which was abandoned after its roof collapsed in 2013, has become active after months of restoration work and is now back to its parishioners and the people of Serampore. The project was taken up as the Serampore Initiative of the National Museum of Denmark in collaboration with the West Bengal Heritage Commission in 2013 with the objective of reviving this once-thriving Danish colony. The museum is governed by the Ministry of Culture, Denmark.
Following the meticulously planned two crore restoration, the church — which was in a state of ruin — now boasts of new stone flooring, steel beams and cable connectivity.”This is the first time that Bengal has received such an honour by UNESCO. Maybe the state’s new name Bangla is lucky for the state”, Chakraborti told Millennium Post.
St. Olav’s Church which was built in 1806 remains one of the most significant relics of the time when Serampore was under Danish rule and known by the name of Frederiksnagore. The Church has been used by the local congregation ever since.
With the building nearing collapse, the National Museum’s Serampore Initiative entered into a collaboration in 2013 meant to both secure an important part of the Indo-Danish heritage and once again turn the church into a vibrant religious and cultural meeting place for the town’s.
The owner, the Calcutta Diocesan Trust Association, and Serampore College, who has been a regular user, also got involved in the revival process. The Indian architectural firm Continuity was chosen to carry out the restoration. The firm has handled the restoration of several large churches in Kolkata.