Dalhousie Institute, Hare Street, Calcutta, 1865


ডালহৌসি ইন্সটিট্যুট, লাল দিঘীর দক্ষিন পার, কলকাতা, c১৮৬৫

The Dalhousie Institute, situated on the south side of Dalhousie Square, was originally constructed as a Monumental Hall to accommodate busts and statues of great men associated with the history of British India, as well as to provide a resort for mental improvement and social intercourse for all classes. The foundation stone of the institute was laid on March 4, 1865 by the then Lieutenant Governor of Bengal, the Hon’ble Cecil Beadon.
As it is revealed in Archiseek, an Irish architectural journal, that Mr. C.Q. Wray, architect, was assigned for designing the Dalhousie Institute, and that the Institute, as we stated at the time, is intended to be built on a site adjoining Government House at the estimated cost of Rs 25,000 . The cost of its construction was met partly by public subscription and partly from funds raised to commemorate the heroic deeds of those who distinguished themselves in the mutiny of 1857.

The large hall is to be used as a concert and public-meeting room, and will accommodate 1,000 persons seated. It is also to be appropriated to the reception of statues and other memorials of distinguished men. On either side of it are lecture-rooms, lavatories, and an extensive library. The design, externally, may be described as a Corinthian prostyle temple, octastylos; with a lower building, Ionic, on each side. The two outer columns on each side in the portico are close together, and the tympanum is filled with sculpture. Three statues take the place of acroteria on the pediment. The great hall has single Corinthian columns with antae projecting from the wall, on each side at intervals, and a vaulted ceiling, panelled, with lunettes above the entablature of the order. A recces at one end will receive an organ.”dalhousieinst-hall A view of the grand interior of the Institute’s Great Hall where people assemble to witness the statues exhibited.

During World War II, the Institute was requisitioned for the use of US troops and, in 1948, it was shifted from Dalhousie Square to its present location where the original marble plaque commemorating the event has now been relocated in the entrance hall of the current premises at 42 Jhowtalla Street. The building was designed by Walter Granville. The Institute was not a social club in its early years – no drinks were served and no ladies were admitted as members till 1887.As published in The Builder, January 24, 1863. Demolished in 1950

DalhousieInstitute-HareStreetxThis photograph of Hare Street from the ‘Walter Hawkins Nightingale (PWD) collection: Album of views of Calcutta, was most probably taken by photographer Samuel Bourne in the late 1870s. Dalhousie Square, named after Lord Dalhousie who was appointed Governor-General in 1847, was the main administrative area of Calcutta. The square also housed the headquarters of the East India Company known as the Writer’s Building, the Currency Office, and the General Post Office. Pictured here is a view from the top of the Telegraph Office, with the Dalhousie Institute situated below. The Dalhousie Square, with a corner of the Dalhousie Tank, and the General Post Office are in view on the right. This is an edited and enlarged version of the original image.

[A revised version replacing Nov. 28, 2013 post]

Telegraph Office, Hare Street, Dalhousie Square, 1878

হেয়ার স্ট্রিটের মোড়ে টেলিগ্রাফ অফিস ভবন, ১৮৭৮
Telecommunications services, in true sense, began in India in 1851 when a telegraph service became operational between Calcutta, then the seat of the British colonial government, and Diamond Harbor 21 miles away, a trading post of the British East India Company. TeleCableLaying -DiamondHarbour-Calcutta-1851The telegraph, and later the telephone were introduced in India in 1882 and were viewed by the British as tools of command and control that were essential to maintain law and order in the country.
This view of The Telegraph Office, situated on the bend of Old Court House Street and Hare Street, at the south-west corner of Dalhousie Square was taken in 1878. The construction of the building started in 1873. This is the oldest and the original part of the sprawling Telegraph Office complex and is more commonly known as the ‘Dead Letter Office’. It served as the central sorting office for incoming mail from overseas to Bengal. Where the postal address was incomplete, or the addressee not located or deceased or when the letter could not be returned to the sender, the letter stayed in this wonderful Italianate corner building with a campanile tower in North–Eastern corner. Supposedly it was designed as a Italian clock tower, but it never came to contain a clock.  The Central Telegraph Office, 1876, Lord Dalhousie, then Governor General of India, sponsored the first telegraph services in India in the 1850s. In 1870, the first telegraph connecting Britain and Kolkata was switched on.

Photograph is a part of the ‘Walter Hawkins Nightingale collection “Album of views of Calcutta”, was taken by James Humpidge.

Hare Street looking towards the River, Calcutta, 1878

হেয়ার স্ট্রিট – ডালহৌসি স্কোয়ার থেকে গঙ্গা বরাবর রাস্তার দৃশ্য, কলকাতা, ১৮৭৮
Pictured here is an aerial view of the stretch of Hare Street captured from the top of the Telegraph Office, with the Dalhousie Institute situated in close proximity. It covers the stretch between river bank on the east and the corner of the Tank Square on the west surrounded by magnificent buildings including the General Post Office and the neighborhood of Bankshall Court. This is the road where David Hare (1775-1842), one of the most endearing social benefactors, lived till death. The road is called ‘Hare Street’ after his name.
This photograph, belongs to the ‘Walter Hawkins Nightingale (PWD) collection: Album of views of Calcutta, was taken by A. Hone in 1878

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