Friday, 13 January 2017

Colonial Calcutta GPO building, a heritage site

General Post Office Calcutta,220ft high dome. Alamy
Calcutta GPO on the site of Ft.Williams. Heritage structures of Bengal
GPO,Calcutta. Kolkata City Tours
The General Post Office, Kolkata, is located on a site which was actually  a part of the first Fort William built by the freshly arrived East India company to carry on their mercantile trading activities in Bengal. At that point of time, EIC had yet to establish themselves as a thriving company. However, they were actively involved in additional fortification of Ft. William to safeguard their merchandise, go-downs, etc., from invasions by their enemies.  The guardhouse, behind the post office in the alley once housed the  infamous  small underground dungeon  room with poor ventilation called Black Hole of Calcutta (1756).  It was an unfortunate  tragedy where several British men & women were locked-up in the underground  dungeon by then Nabob of Bengal Siraj-ud-Daulah, 
General Post Office (1868), Calcutta. pixels-memories.blogspot
resulting in the  deaths of many of them by asphyxiation, panic and stampede.

The imposing structure of the GPO, one of the landmarks in the huge city, is the in the B.B.D. Bagh area (cross section of of Netaji Subhas Road and Koilaghat Street), handling city's inbound and outbound mail and parcels as it happens to be the main central post office of the city. The mammoth white structure with high domed roof (rising over 220 feet) and tall Ionic-Corinthian columns (slender columns, topped by decorative leaves & scrolls) was designed in 1864 by Walter B. Grenville (1819-1874), a
 consulting architect to the government of India from 1863 to 1868. The GPO building, it is believed, is a good example of an 
unassuming, simple  Edwardian architecture that was widely used  in Britain from 1901-14. The work was completed 4 years later and handed over to the Postal department. Grenville was a famous architect and he designed  the Indian Museum, Calcutta High Court & the University of Calcutta. the latter was destroyed. A Postal Museum, built in 1884 displays a collection of artifacts such as letter boxes & seals,  stamps of bygone years, etc. The Philatelic Bureau is located on the southwestern end of the building.  The postal department  to mark its  centenary celebrations in 1967 & 68 issued  40 paise stamps  showing  the Calcutta GPO. Any person, visiting Kolkata, once the capital of the British Empire, can not miss this majestic building that enhances the beauty of this city winch is replete with innumerable heritage buildings and sites, a legacy of the colonial period. Many of them need  regular maintenance and restoration, so that they will be useful to the posterity.
General Post Office Calcutta,220ft high
  It is a declared heritage site under the care of the Archaeological Survey of India  which is  responsible for protection & maintenance.