Excursion to Dalhousie Square
- Raj Bhawan
- Treasury Building
- St. John’s Church
- Secretariat Offices
- Kolkata GPO
- Postal Museum
- Collectorate Building
- Writers Building
- St. Andrew’s Church
- Old Currency Building
- Central Telegraph Office
- Great Eastern Hotel.
This walk will be conducted by experienced guides from the department of tourism.
The area covered by this walk was originally known in the eighteenth century as ‘Lal Dighi’ (Red Lake), and later as Tank Square. Later still, in the heydays of the British administration, it was called Dalhousie Square, after Lord Dalhousie who was the Governor General in the 1850s. Later on it was renamed as Benoy – Badal – Dinesh Bag (popularly known as BBD Bag) in the memory of three Indian nationalist martyrs – Benoy Krishna Bose, Badal Gupta and Dinesh Chandra Gupta. The area near around the Dalhousie Square provide one of the most interesting walks through eighteenth and nineteenth century history and architecture of Kolkata.
The Dalhousie Square area was once Dihi Kalikata – one of the three villages which later grew into the metropolis of Kolkata. It was here that the British first built a mud fort around 1700 and started their trading ware houses. Later, when the East India Company took over the administration of the region after 1757, their courts of justice and seat of governance and the churches for Sunday service were set up around Lal Dighi.
It starts from the Governor’s House (Raj Bhavan) goes past the Treasury Building to St. John’s Church, up to the Kolkata General Post Office (GPO), and around past the Collectorate Office and the Writer’s Building – the seat of the state government. Then you can take a quick round of St. Andrew’s Kirk, take a straight walk down the Old Court House Street and go past the Old Currency Building. Cross over to see the Postal Sorting Office, the Central Telegraph Office. Then turn left into Wellesley Place (now Red Cross Place), past the Raj Bhavan outhouses and left again to the Great Eastern Hotel. This would bring you out very near Curzon Park where you would have started off from.
Details at a Glance
Raj Bhavan was the former official residence of the Viceroys of British India when Calcutta was the capital of the country. Built in 1803 by Governor General Marquis of Wellesley, there are six gates in all-upon four sides. It is probably the largest residence in Calcutta with 137 rooms and is considered a major Calcutta Tourist Attraction.
TREASURY BUILDING - The red – thick Treasury Building is located just to the south of the intersection. It houses many important offices of the state accounts and audit sections. It is built on a classical quadrangular plan, with tall windows, matching seta of Corinthian pillars and a balustrade on the roof with pairs of phoenixes at intervals.
ST. JOHN’S CHURCH – To the north of the intersection, opposite the Treasury Building is the St. John’s Church. This is not the oldest church in Kolkata, nor the largest. Its distinction, however, lies in its graceful architecture, modellled by Lt. James Agg, apparently on the lines of the church of St. martin-in-the-Fields in England.
COMMERCIAL LIBRARY – Once out of the St. John’s compound, turn left along the Council House Street. One can see further down the road the other secretariat office buildings, with the typical red brick construction, portico and arched passageways. This was built in 1885, to mark the visit of the Prince of Wales, who later became Edward VII.
KOLKATA GPO & POSTAL MUSEUM – The Postal headquarters of Calcutta, located in the BBD Bag area, is an interesting architectural piece. The Calcutta General Post Office (GPO), the commercial hub of the city designed by Walter B. Grenville was built in 1864. Its high domed roof and tall Ionic-Corinthian pillars give the building an imposing appearance marking the boundaries of the former Fort William, destroyed during Shiraj-ud-Daulah's attack on the British Settlement in 1756. It is also alleged to be the site of the notorious Black Hole of Calcutta. The GPO functions as the chief post office of West Bengal and houses an adjacent redbrick building, the Postal Museum that was built in 1884. The museum displays a wide collection of artefacts and stamps, which includes antique cast iron post boxes, signal lights from the Railway Mail Service, franking seals, copies of charters, etc commemorating the history of postal services in India. At the southwestern end of the building is the Philatelic Bureau, which is a collector's delight. Visitors can buy some of the more recent first day covers and mint stamps at cost price from the Bureau.
COLLECTORATE BUILDING – Kolkata Collectorate building was constructed in 1890. This is the office of the presidency commissioner, in charge of the south Bengal districts. It is a neat red-brick building with quadrangular courtyard and has a notable Palladian-late ornate curlicues, decorative tablets and typical small pavilions on the roof.
WRITERS BUILDING - A massive red building was originally built as a residence for the British East India Company's clerical and administrative staff called as writers, hence the name Writers' building. This building summarizes the political revolution of Bengal. The Chief Minister's office is also located in this building. Kolkata's present Writers' Building was first started as early as 1690. Within the periphery of the old fort, the junior writers or clerks of the East India Company used to stay in mud hovels. So it came to be known as the 'Writers' Building'.
ST. ANDREW’S KIRK - The Scots in the East India Company brought their 'rivalry' with the English to the banks of the Hooghly and when their own church (or 'kirk') was built in 1818 by Messrs Burn, Currie & Co, its steeple was built higher than that of the English church at St John's - after a preceding row between the Anglican Bishop Middleton and Dr Bryce of the Scottish Church. Only the unkind would suggest that the Jocks were out to upstage the Sassenachs!
OLD CURRENCY BUILDING – This building till about 1936-37 housed offices of the Reserve Bank of India before it shifted to Mumbai. It was in this very run – down, half demolished building that many momentous decisions concerning the trade and monetary policies of India in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century were taken.
CENTRAL TELEGRAPH OFFICE – This is a red-brick structure, with a graceful rectangular pavilion at the northeast corner of the roof, resembling the Villa Medici in Rome. Done in the Palladian – Tuscan style, it has a quadrangle inside with both robust and slender Corinthian columns (some in pairs, balancing the arches and windows. It manages to look elegant despite the hawkers selling foodstuffs, knick – knacks and old books on the ground floor alcoves and verandas.
GREAT EASTERN HOTEL - The Great Eastern Hotel was born Auckland Hotel in 1841, at the crossroads of the Old Courthouse Street and British India Street, founded by confectioner David Wilson and named after the current Governor General Lord Auckland. It grew from strength to strength over the 19th and first half of the 20th century. Locally known as "Wilson's Hotel", it was also known as "Auckland Hotel and the Hall of Nations" in the 19th century, and was referred to as the "Japani Hotel" (Japanese Hotel) colloquially in the 20th century, due to the large number of Japanese tourists there. The hotel was extremely elite, referred to as the Jewel of the East and "the best hotel East of the Suez" by Mark Twain on his voyage along the Equator, and described by Rudyard Kipling in "The City of Dreadful Night". It had notable board members like the author Parry Chand Mitter and stockholders like W. C. Bonnerjee - president of the Indian National Congress. The hotel was famous for its new year parties thrown by Maharajahs (like the Maharajah of Cooch Behar) uptil the 1950s. It has been host to such notables as Queen Elizabeth II on her India visit, Nikita Khruschev's delegation in the 1950s, and visiting international cricket teams. The hotel kitchens, manned by the legendary Baruahs of Chittagong (now in Bangladesh), was the talk of Kolkata. It steadily progressed downhill since the 1970s, and was taken over by the Government of West Bengal in 1975 on grounds of insolvency.
Policy Regarding Cancellation / No Show / Early Departure
In case of cancellation of tour/travel services due to any avoidable/unavoidable reason/s we must be informed in writing. Cancellation charges would be effective from the date we receive letter in writing and cancellation charges would be as follows:
- 16 days to prior to arrival – 50% of the tour/service cost.
- 15 days to 01 days prior to arrival or no show – 100% of the tour/service cost.
Please note – Irrespective of above mentioned cancellations slabs – in case of cancellation of tour services after the booking is made with us – a minimum 10% service charges would be applicable.