The 242-year-old heritage structure of Writer’s Building houses the seat of the State Government of West Bengal. The prominent red brick is what makes the building noticeable even from a distance. It is located towards the north of the famous Lal Dighi lake in the BBD Bagh area (formerly known as Dalhousie Square) and offers beautiful views of the lake.
The entire structure is 150 metres long with a built-up area of 55,000 square feet, with approximately 6,000 employees working under various departments and offices belonging to the government services.
It was once the place of work as well as residence for junior servants of East India Trading Company.
History and Architecture of Writers’ Building Kolkata
The very first three storey building in erstwhile Calcutta was the Writer’s building, built in neo-classical style with magnificent Corinthian columns. Designed by Thomas Lyon, a self- styled builder, the Writer’s building was constructed in 1777 on behalf of Richard Barwell. The building was meant for the East India Company to house the junior level servants who were then called ‘Writers’ and hence, the name of the building. The idea of establishing a centre for administrative services first came to the mind of the then governor, Warren Hastings.
The site on which the building was built was the site of St. Anne’s Church. The land was donated to Thomas Lyon after demolition of the church in addition to an extra plot that adjoined the church premises. What was earlier called as a shabby hospital or the house of the poor, was later a monument of pride after it went through several renovations in the decades that followed its construction.
It was the time when East India Company used to operate under the Bengal province of the Mughal Empire and this building was intended to use as its headquarters.
Few years after the building was built, the Fort William College was set up inside the premises to allow the writers to be trained in Persian and Hindi, the two other languages that were used prominently in official communications. According to the needs of the college, structural changes were also made to the original building by adding a hostel and an examination hall for the students.
In addition to the hostel and exam hall, a lecture hall as well as four libraries were added along with classrooms for respective languages. It was during this structural elaboration that the 128 feet long veranda were added to the first and second floors with ionic columns to support the extended structure. However, due to administrative differences, the college had to be moved out of the building premises.
Later, during the 19th century, once Calcutta went on to become the capital of British India, the Writer’s building was transformed into the office of the secretariat of Bengal. Additional 15 blocks were added which were thereby interconnected to each other giving the massive edifice of the building a palatial look.
The statues of the Greek Gods and Goddesses were added to the newly added central portico. The statues were Greek God’s representation of Justice, Commerce, Science and Agriculture along with statue of a European and Indian practitioner of the respective subjects.
However; Minerva, the Russian Goddess stands on top of the central portico and commands attention from all visitors.
Image Gallery of Writers’ Building Kolkata
Historical Significance of Writer’s Building With Respect To Indian Freedom Movement
The most talked about historical event that occurred in Writer’s Building is the assassination of Lt. Colonel Simpson by the Bengal freedom fighter revolutionaries, Benoy Basu, Badal Gupta and Dinesh Gupta. It is said that Lt. Colonel Simpson was infamous for his brutality towards Indian prisoners, specially the freedom fighters. Not able to tolerate this, the three revolutionaries decided to end it once and for all. They entered Writer’s Building dressed up in European attire and shot Simpson dead. They killed themselves before getting caught. The Dalhousie square was then re-named as BBD Bagh, as it is known today.
Entry Fees and Timings of Writers’ Building Kolkata
Visiting hours: The Writer’s building is open throughout the day. There is no particular timing for visiting. The entry into the main building is prohibited to visitors other than employees however; visitors can see the building from outside.
Entry Fee: There is no entry fee to visit Writer’s Building.
How to Reach Writers’ Building Kolkata
By Bus: Kalighat Fairly is the nearest Bus station.
By Train: Howrah Junction Station is the nearest train station that connects to all major Indian cities. Visitors can either hire a prepaid taxi or rent a cab from top car rental companies in Kolkata to reach here. One may also board a bus going towards BBD Bagh.
By Air: Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport of Kolkata is the nearest airport connecting Kolkata to all major Indian cities. Once landed, one can reach Writer’s Building by prepaid taxis or rental cabs.
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