Tuesday, 9 August 2016

The Belvedere House (1838), Viceroy's residence, Kolkata

The Belvedere Estate, the former palace for the Viceroy of India and later the Governor of Bengal. Alipore. en.wikipedia.org
National library, the Belvedere Estate.   www.theparanormalguide.com
the Belvedere Estate. Calcutta.  Illustration of Belvedere House, 1838, by the Anglo-Indian merchant and artist William Prinsep. The estate belonged to the Tolly  family, who sold it to the East ...   en.wikipedia.org
The city of Kolkatta and the state of West Bengal have a lot of monuments of historical value built during the East India company rule and later by the representatives of the British Government, England. Such monuments bear testimony to the eventful British colonial era, the era that is gone for ever in this transient world. Our connectivity with our past history is only through these old structures that witnessed so many happy times and upheavals. 
They've stood the testimony of time and  now they appear before us as a repository of historic events frozen in time. The Belvedere Estate in Kolkata is an interesting place, considering its long association with the British higher ups and its chequered  history.
Governor of the Presidency of Fort William(Bengal)en.wikipedia.org
The Belvedere Estate, the former palace for the Viceroy of India and later the Governor of Bengal is in Alipore, near the zoo, in Calcutta The vast estate includes   Belvedere House and surrounding land of 30-acres. It was here the Governor-General resided until the early nineteenth century. When the Government House (present Raj Bhavan) was built and ready for occupation in 1854, the Governor-General shifted to the new residence. The Belvedere House became the official residence of the Lieutenant - Governor of Bengal who later in 1912 moved over to the Government House on promotion as Governor General when British India's capitol was shifted to Delhi.

The history of  Belvedere House is quite interesting and it takes us right back to time when the EIC officials were busy spinning various schemes to swindle the new Nawob  in the late 1760s, The English company forced 
Mir Jafar (left) and Mir Miran (right). en.wikipedia.org
Mir Jafar Ali Khan (1691–February 5, 1765 with support from British East India Company) was the first Nawab of Bengal to abdicate his throne at Murshidabad to Qasim Khan (died May 8, 1777; was the Nawab of Bengal from 1760 to 1763 installed by the EIC.. Mir Qasim, was  also a close relative  of the deposed Nawob Siraj-ud Daula.  Mir Jafar owned a large court house and other places in Alipore near  Ft. Williams and needed the protection from the British for his survival. It is believed  he gifted Belvedere House to Warren Hastings ( December 1732 –  August 1818) who was away in England after the battle of Buxar in 1764 and returned to India in 1772 as Governor and stayed in
the Belvedere with a Baroness Inhoff by his side. The presence of Baroness caused a verbal dual between him and his legal officer. Later  Hastings sold the Belvedere Estate to Major Tolly in the 1780s for  a sum of Rs. 60,000.00. Then  the Tolly family disposed of the estate in `1802. From 1854 to 1911, a host of many  LT. Governors  stayed there till 1912 when Delhi became the Capital. 

Charles Robert Prinsep (1790–1864), a  Lincoln's Inn barrister  lived at Belvedere Estate for a time when he was a council to EIC and later as  the Judge Advocate General of India during that period.

An interesting fact about this old building is, it is believed, this building is haunted  as some cases of strange happenings have been reported in the past. These do not carry the tag of confirmed reports. However, some para normal activities have been reported in the building and also on the surrounding places. The strange reports  include lighting up of ball room in the dead of night and carriage moving on their own and stop in the drive way. 

National Library of India, Kolkata, is  housed in the building since 1948The main building is under the care of the Archaeological Survey of India. There are two colonies in the estate one is for the employees of the library and the other is for the central government employees,