Thursday, 30 May 2013

Royal Insurance Building- a must to the visitors

Royal Insurance Building

Royal Insurance Building from the Eastern side
This is one of the main attraction among foreigners in Kolkata. Located at the opposite of the General Post Office building. It was designed by T S Gregson of Messers Gregson, Batley & King (architects), Bombay. Lord Carmichael laid the foundation stone in 1916. J C Bannerji of Calcutta was the builder.
The photograph was taken in 1878 

The above photograph around Tank Square looking towards the river was taken from the rooftop of the Telegraph Building (Dead Letter Office) in 1878. GPO is at the far top corner. Royal Insurance Building was nowhere in the picture as in the left of GPO. 

The GPO Building

The above photograph was taken 1875 when the Royal Insurance Building was not constructed. The small building at the left of the GPO is clearly visible. This particular building was demolished to construct Royal Insurance Building in 1916. 

The main entrance with royal decoration at the top
It took Rs. 50000 to construct this building and took three years to complete it to the public in 1918. 
Indian insurance sector during the British Raj were dominated by the British Insurance companies. On the opposite side of Lall Dighi (Red Square or Tank Square) the Standard Life Assurance Building is still exists with poor condition. (!
Taken in 1914 along the Lal Dighi, Royal Insurance Building was decorated with lights
The logo of the Royal Insurance Company

Lord officially opened it to the public. It was built on the site of the New Oriental Bank Corporation. The intricate design in the plastered surface of the outer wall specially at the top of the main entrance opposite of GPO is simply a marvel. 
The tower 
Entrance to the Royal Insurance Building

Sunday, 10 March 2013

The Treasury Building & Spence's Hotel: the connection

The Treasury Building, Calcutta 

Treasury Building from the South- Eastern corner 

The Treasury Building is located near the High Court Building and just adjacent to the Town Hall. The exact location is the crossing of Esplanade Row (West) and the Government Place (West).  
A sign at the outside wall of the Treasury Building 
This gigantic and beautiful architecture was constructed between 1882 to 1884 during the tenure of Lord Ripon who was the Governor General of the British India. E J Martin was the architect and the Executive Engineer C J Mills was in charge of the entire construction.
At the Western outside wall of the Treasury building
The red brick structure was built on a classical quadrangular plane. It has tall windows with beautiful arches, matching sets of Corinthian pillars and railed roofs with pair of phoenixes at intervals. The decorative tablets, arching gateways and beautiful mansards at each end of the long cloisters running along quadrangles making it gracefully gorgeous. 
Treasury building from the South West 
Keystone at Treasury building 
Originally it was meant to acomodate the offices of the finance department of the British India. Now it housed the main office of the Principal Accountant General (audit & accounts), Government of West Bengal. 
Entrance at the Southern side
Restoration work was done by the Central Public Works Department. 
Actually it was the site where the Spence's Hotel was located. Spence's, the first ever hotel in Asia was opened to the public in 1830. To accomodate large number of regular visitors in the city the hotel constructed. The Government accquired the land to accomodate government offices. It was considered definitely the best in Calcutta. The Spence's was shifted to Wellesley Place near the Governnor's House later on. The photograph below was taken by Fredrik Fiebig in 1851 along the Clive Street looking South. 

The Spence's Hotel from the Government Place (West), Photo- Fredrik Fiebig (1851). 

There is a reference to Spences Hotel in Jules Verne's 'The Seam House' dated 1880. The author writes ''...before dawn, on the morning of our start, I left the Spences Hotel, one of the best in Calcutta which I had made my residence ever since my arrival''. 
Spence's Hotel and St John's Church at the far end
The above photograph was taken by John Constantine Stanley (British, 1837- 1878) somewhere between 1858 to 1861. Only a few photographs have been found so far. Spence's Hotel was was shifted to Wellesley Place near Government place. Chowringhee, the popular novel written by Shankar ( Manishankar Mukhopadhyay) was based on this famous hotel which was located at Wellesley Place.