The Bengal Paddle has an interesting museum and Indulge peeps into the same
Built in 1945, The Bengal Paddle has been restored to offer enthusiasts a glimpse of the golden era of river transportation in the Bengal delta
Kolkata being a riverine city located on the banks of river Hooghly has been home to numerous picturesque ghats since time immemorial. In the past decade, with the rapid advent of modern technology and an affinity towards luxury, Hooghly has become studded with some unique river cruises and heritage properties, which are predominantly, restored ships and barges—taking cue from this, the almost seventy-year-old Eastern Navigation Pvt. Ltd has established The Barge Company, which looks forward to bringing a never-seen-before experience in cruising on the river Ganges. The Barge Company has recently restored a colonial-era paddle steamer over a period of two years that was originally built two years before Indian independence and named it The Bengal Paddle.
Considered India’s last surviving paddle steamer, the vessel was originally commissioned by The East India Company to sail in the Bengal deltaic region. Restored and relaunched in November last year, the paddles and vintage machinery of the boat is back in their old glory, put up in display cases for history enthusiasts. The barge has now taken shape of a multidisciplinary space with two open decks, an FnB area along with a unique Riverine Museum, which curates the heritage of the Bengal Delta.
“The barge was left in ruins at the Kidderpore Dock, but it turned out to be our most ambitious project to date in partnership with Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port Trust (formerly Kolkata Port Trust). It includes a 360-degree restoration of the vessel to restore it to its lost glory,” shares Rishika Das Roy, head of marketing and outreach at The Barge Company.
Exemplary minds from the fields of heritage restoration, naval architecture, structural engineering, and events & lifestyle space have come together to give the vessel a new life with 320 tonnes of steel, 8 tonnes of teak, and 4.5 lakh hours of labour. Each of its original machinery has been repaired and re-calibrated so as to display it as striking installations gracing the interiors. With a space that can accommodate up to 500 people, the Bengal Paddle will instantly transport visitors to its resplendent glory from the golden age of river transportation in the Bengal Delta. The Riverine Museum in addition is one of the main attractions of the steamer paddle boat, located in its erstwhile boiler room.
“The property has been restored with a vision of being the next haute venue for extravagant occasions such as weddings and celebrations,” adds Rishika.
Built in 1945 in Scotland by William Denny & Bros, Dumbarton, the restored vessel boasts three spacious decks across three levels namely the Top Deck, Middle Deck, and Lower Deck. The Top Deck is spread across 5000+ sq. ft space and split between an open deck and a 2000 sq. ft air-conditioned banquet, both of which offer a panoramic view of the river and its banks. The hall is pillarless and aimed at creating an all-weather experience with two cosy wooden suites exclusive to this deck. The Middle Deck is a little smaller standing at 3500 sq. ft in its area, showcasing revived machinery from the original paddle steamer such as the paddles and propulsion system. This deck also has provision for 600+ square feet of kitchen and service area, along with 4 dedicated well-appointed washrooms. The Lower Deck on the other hand is home to the boiler room, now turned into the Riverine Museum that captures the history of the Hooghly alongside the evolution of various aspects of marine navigation, with particular emphasis on steam propulsion.
Gallery Link: https://www.indulgexpress.com/galleries/2023/jan/31/indulge-offers-a-glimpse-into-the-newly-launched-banquet-and-museum-the-bengal-paddle-1693.html