Tuesday, 24 December 2019

The Curzon Gate, Bardhaman city, West Bengal - an imperial legacy

Curzon_Gate, Bardhamanen, West bengal. wikipedia.org
1942. Curzon_Gate, Bardhamanen, West bengal. wikipedia.org
The city of Bardhaman in Purba Bardhaman district in West Bengal, boasts of several tourists spots, mainly many Hindu temples.  The Curzon Gate, an important  landmark in  this city, is a  legacy of British rule that began first in Bengal. The East India company, a British trading company, began their land-grabbing opportunities on the sidelines  right here, improved the out flow of revenue to Britain that had a GDP of less then 2% then. Later it became a quasi govt. operations for the British Crown. The direct crown administration began in 1858-59 soon after the first war of independence.
Built in 1902-1903 at the  crossing of Bijoy Chand Road and Grand Trunk Road as a mark of honor of the visit of  the Viceroy of India 
Lord Curzon to this city on the occasion of the coronation of Maharaja Bijay Chand Mahatab, it is located in a prime locality.  The ruler's  former  royal palace is about one kilometer  from the gate. The viceroy's visit to this place in 1904 was one of great pomp and colorful, befitting his hugest position in British India whose head was the  British Crown.
A fine piece of  simple architecture, reflecting the grandeur of colonial administration, the gate arch is supported by eight circular columns. On the arch one can notice three female figurines, with swords, boats, and sheaves of corn in their hands, signifying progress in agriculture and commerce in this part of the sub continent.  An interesting feat is the presence of  twenty-one circles with twenty-one illustrations at the top portion of the gate. The entire structure was built by  masons specially brought from Italy for this purpose.

Location map.Bardhaman /thementalclub.com
After India's  independence in August, 1947, many buildings/ structures built  during the colonial period were  renamed after prominent Indian leaders or persons of  great repute in their  respective places. Though  the gate is called Bijoy Toran, but still  people call it  as Curzon  Gate (locally called Karjon Gate in Bengali).  Since 1974, the  PWD of the Government of West Bengal has taken over the up-keep of this popular gate.
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curzon_Gate,_Bardhaman
 OOO
Tit-bits- Lord Curzon:
Lord Curzon, as Viceroy of India, en.wikipedia.org

Above image: George Nathaniel Curzon, 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston, KG, GCSI, (11 January 1859–20 March 1925) was a famous British administrator in the late colonial era.  He was also known as Lord Curzon of Kedleston (between 1898 and 1911), and as Earl Curzon of Kedleston (between 1911 and 1921).  Commonly  known  as Lord Curzon,  he was  a British Conservative statesman and in that capacity he served as Viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905. He became a controversial figure during his tenure here  as  he created the territory of Eastern Bengal and Assam. it is said it was done along the communal line as East Bengal had the largest Muslim population.  He also served as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs from 1919 to 1924.
A major famine coincided with Curzon's time as viceroy In India in which 1 to 4.5 million people died. His frugal economic policy  was a subject of criticism during this tough time. Though he opened up 
famine relief works that fed between 3 and 5 million and reduced taxes, he also cut back rations that he characterized as "dangerously high" and stiffened relief eligibility by reinstating the Temple tests.
 Lord Curzon died in London on 20 March 1925 at the age of 66. His coffin, made from the same tree at Kedleston that had encased his first wife, Mary, was taken to Westminster Abbey and from there to his ancestral home in Derbyshire.  Here, he was interred beside Mary in the family vault at All Saints Church on 26 March.
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Curzon,_1st_Marquess_Curzon_of_Kedleston