In the memory of Sir David Ochterlony, the Shaheed Minar, roughly translating to the Martyrs’ Monument was constructed. It was earlier known as the Ochterlony Monument. The Saheed Minar is located in the Esplanade area of Kolkata, India in the northernmost end of Maidan next to the Brigade Grounds.
Architecture of Shaheed Minar Kolkata
Standing at a height of 48 meters (157 ft), Shaheed Minar was famously called the “Cloud kissing monument” by Mark Twain. It has a foundation that is based on Egyptian styles of architecture, while the fixed column has a Syrian upper portion and a Turkish dome.
The design has a classical fluted column with two balconies on the top. The top floor is accessible by a staircase with a total of 223 steps to the top. The monument was made by the Burn & Company. Most people who visit Shaheed Minar do so because of the historical significance of the place and also to look at the mixed architectural styles of Egyptian, Syrian and Turkish.
History of Shaheed Minar Kolkata
Shaheed Minar was erected in 1828 by the East India Company in memory of Major-general Sir David Ochterlony who was the commander of the British East India Company. The monument was made to commemorate and celebrate the victory of East India Company against the Marathas in Delhi in 1804 and the win against the Gurkhas in the Anglo-Nepalese War.
The monument was constructed in the memory of Sir David Ochterlony as he was the commander during these wars. He was born on 12th February 1758 and died on 15th July 1825 at the age of 67. He was a Major-general of the Bengal Artillery and was awarded the GCB or Dames Grand Cross award. The monument was designed by J. P. Parker and was funded by public funds.
It was rededicated to the memory of the martyrs of the Indian freedom struggle on 9th August 1969 and renamed as the “Saheed Minar '' which translates to ‘martyrs’ monument’ in both Bengali and Hindi, an apt name for this honorary piece of architecture. The last few visitors at this memoriam are Gopal Krishna Gandhi with his family. After all these years, the government of West Bengal has decided to reopen this venue for the public to visit, decorating it with sparkling illuminations.
Entry Fee and Timings of Shaheed Minar Kolkata
All-day: The pathway leading right up to the tower is only open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Anyone with no ticket charge whatsoever can have a look at the monument from outside. With special permission from the Kolkata Police they can visit the monument from inside.
Evening: After 5 p.m. in the evening the tower lights up and public access is blocked off. If you’re visiting the tower in the evening you would get a better view from the Shaheed Minar Maidan.
Early Morning: People usually spend about thirty minutes at Saheed Minar, and most people visit the place early in the morning and the place is busy till about 10 a.m. and becomes empty in the afternoon.
Recently the authorities have become a little lenient with the permission to go to the top of the tower, thus now would be a good time to plan on walking up those winding stairs up to the balcony as you breathe in the history of the place.
Image Gallery of Shaheed Minar Kolkata
Places to visit near Shaheed Minar Kolkata
Since the tower has been partially renovated and the lighting systems have been placed on the monument, a great time to go see the monument would be during the evening when we see the Shaheed Minar light up with different colors of blue, purple, orange and green.
Saheed Minar is located in the heart of the city Kolkata, at Esplanade. It is surrounded by several beautiful other sightseeing places such as:
1. Tipu Sultan Mosque: The Saheed Minar is exactly opposite to the Tipu Sultan Mosque which is another monument you can have a look at. It is also very near to both the Maidan Market and the New Market.
2. Maidan Market: The Maidan Market is a sports accessories market. You can get jerseys and shoes and even elbow guards for a very cheap price.
3. New Market: The New Market is Kolkata’s oldest market which was earlier known as the Sir Stuart Hogg Market. Here you can get anything from food items to clothes to toys. It is the best place to shop till you drop.
4. Indian Museum, Victoria Memorial and Birla Planetarium: Located quite close to Shaheed Minar are other famous sightseeing places of Kolkata such as Indian Museum, the Victoria Memorial and the Birla Planetarium.
Best Places to Eat near Shaheed Minar Kolkata
The Shaheed Minar and its surroundings are sprawling with places to eat:
1. Chung Wah: Some of the best places for Chinese cuisine in Kolkata is found here with a touch of old Kolkata feel. Drop-in for some dirt cheaply priced alcohol and munchies!
2. Raj Spanish Cafe: Do you want some authentic European cuisine? The Raj Spanish Cafe is the best place to chill after a whole day of hopping around. Even if you want to take a quick break while exploring the city, the absolute laidback charm of this restaurant is apt.
3. Sabir’s: Sabir’s Hotel made its name for its mouth-watering Mutton Rezala, a Mughal dish. No trip in the city, or in Esplanade specifically, is complete without dropping by at Sabir’s and tasting the Rezala.
4. Street Food: There are tons of street food vendors too, around the area especially New Market and the bus terminus which is built around the monument.
5. K. C. Das: Complete your meal with some absolutely delicious desserts. Right next to the monument also lies one of the most famous sweet shops in Kolkata, K.C. Das which claims to have invented the quintessential Bengali dessert item roshogolla.
How to Reach Shaheed Minar Kolkata
Esplanade is well connected to the rest of the city. The different ways to get there are:
Bus: Buses from all over the city come to Esplanade as it is one of the main shopping centres of the city and also because it has the main bus terminus of Kolkata.
Metro: You may also take a metro here, the Kolkata Metro connects Esplanade to places like Noapara and Garia which are the two extreme ends of the city.
Auto-Rickshaw: Esplanade is also connected by auto-rickshaws to the Sealdah Railway Station if you’re coming from very far away.
Ferry: Prinsep Ghat and Babughat are the closest ferry stops for Esplanade if you’re coming from across the river.
Cabs: If none of these modes of travel work there are always cabs. You will find ample number of cabs going to and fro to Kolkata’s busiest and most vibrant hubs. You can also book a private cab from top car rental companies in Kolkata if you are planning to club Shaheed Minar with other tourist attractions nearby.
Things To Keep in Mind While Visiting Shaheed Minar Kolkata
In 1997 in an accident, a tourist fell off the lower balcony of the monument. The police have shut down public entry since that event and now you require permission from the Lalbazar Police Headquarters for entry into the monument. Documents required for permission:
Indians: A proof of address and a photo identity.
Non-Indians: Documents from the hotel they are staying at or temporary place of residence along with a copy of their passport.
Interesting Aspects of Shaheed Minar Kolkata
1. A vast field lies south of the Saheed Minar which is commonly known as the Brigade grounds or the Saheed Minar Maidan - a site for political parties and their rallies and fares.
2. The first-ever political meeting to be held at the Shaheed Minar Maidan was organised by Rabindranath Tagore to condemn the killings of Hijli Detention Camp by the British empire in the early twentieth century.
3. The central bus terminus of the city is built around this monument, known as the Esplanade Bus Depot.
4. Renovation of the monument began in 2011 and upon completion, it will be opened to the public.
5. The monument offers a bird’s eye view of the city, similar to the London Eye and the Eiffel Tower.
Overall, the Shaheed Minar has become a cultural symbol for the city, especially due to the political affiliation of the monument and its ties to the history of several ideologies, revolutions and the Indian independence struggle. The location of the tower in Esplanade adds to the aura of the crossroads, where you can never miss this tall monument against the skyline.
Hopefully, after renovations tourists and citizens of the city can both enjoy the monument in its full glory. Admiring the architecture from the inside might be a major milestone on the bucket list of a tourist to Kolkata soon. Till then, we can only view the tower from the outside.
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