Dalhousie Square – Kolkata’s Richest Cultural and Colonial Heritage

Want to take a heritage walk through the busy streets of Kolkata musing over the ultimate colonial heritage of the city’s past? Let it be here at Dalhousie Square, renamed as the Binoy Badal Dinesh Bagh. Named after the three revolutionary freedom fighters of Bengal, the place is the hub of commercial activities of the city.

Dalhousie Square – A Quick Glance

Famous as: Biggest commercial hub of the city
USP: Cultural Heritage Site by the World Monuments Fund (WMF)
Essence of the place: Amalgamation of cultural, commercial and colonial heritage
Visit for: Heritage walk
Busiest hours: 10am-9pm
Best time to explore: October to February

Dalhousie Square – The Heart of the City

Situated at the heart of Kolkata, Dalhousie Square is the administrative heart and the Central Business District of the city. Named as a Cultural Heritage Site by the World Monuments Fund, New York, Dalhousie Square, Kolkata is a classic example of architectural marvel reflected through the Colonial Architecture taking you to the fact the region of the city was built with a close resemblance to London.

Dalhousie Square is the finest example of colonial heritage city centres all over the world. As a matter of fact, it is the spot where the largest number of British colonial heritage monuments and constructions are found.

The Square is located close to a tank, named Lal Dighi, which used to be the source of drinking water for the European residential areas in Calcutta till the mid-nineteenth century.

Dalhousie Square and BBD Bagh

The name of Dalhousie Square was changed to BBD Bagh after mid-1900s. BBD Bagh stands for Binoy Badal Dinesh Bagh – the names of three Indian Independence activists of the same name who shot N.S. Simpson, the Inspector General of Prisons on 8th December 1930., The massacre happened in the balconies of the Writers' Building of the then Dalhousie Square.

Initially, the Square was named after Lord Dalhousie, Governor-General of India from 1847 to 1856. The region was also named ‘The Green before the Fort’ or Tank Square at different times.

Dalhousie Square – The History

Dalhousie Square was created as the centre of the British East India Company’s trading post along the banks of the Hooghly River. The original Fort William lies between the river and the tank, named Lal Dighi.

Back in the summer of 1756, Nawab Siraj ud-Daulah of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa had planned an attack on the British town against the company’s decision to strengthen the fortifications around it. The survivors of the attack were all sent to the Black Hole of Calcutta, the garrison within the fort.

The city was soon overtaken by the British rulers after the Nawab retreated from the forces of Robert Clive, including the square, which was soon established as the commercial and political center of British India.

Dalhousie Square – The Modern Overview

 Dalhousie Square, Kolkata grew in commercial importance and cultural influence over the next one and a half centuries. It still continues to be among the biggest commercial and political centre of all of East India, including several business and political institutions that date back to the colonial era.

Today, the region holds immense importance flaunting Victorian style of architecture exhibiting an old-world charm that attracts the maximum number of tourists visiting the city. The existence of several offices and commercial buildings in the Dalhousie region has named the place “Office Para” meaning a locality of offices.

Dalhousie Square – Classics of Colonial Architecture

The Dalhousie Square is vividly dotted with a number of buildings, all constructed in the British Raj and many of them are still pretty much in use. These buildings boast of the finest remnants of the colonial culture in architecture and construction.

At the centre of it lies the Lal Dighi, the huge water tank flanked by the majestic Writers’ Building in the north. Other buildings like the domed GPO Building, Treasury Office and the Reserve Bank of India are all situated at the west.

The southern region of Dalhousie Square is adorned with the Dead Letter Office and the Raj Bhavan located at the extreme end. Coming towards the east, there are Stephen House and the luxurious Great Eastern Hotel.

Heritage constructions like the Town Hall, the High Court, St. Andrew’s Church and St. John’s Church are all scattered across the region.

With so many commercial properties and offices swarming the Dalhousie Square, the place is rightly nicknamed as Office Para.

Things to Do and Place to Visit – Dalhousie Square

1.  Malik Ghat Flower Market

Located few km away from BBD Bagh, Malik Ghat Flower Market is an exotic place to be. An early morning visit to the flower market at Malik Ghat is charming and extremely refreshing. The colour, the liveliness, the aroma, and the total energy of the place all together is a wonderful way to begin your day with. It is the largest flower market of Asia built by Ram Mohun Mallick in 1855 with Ganga River’s ghat at the back.

2.  Writers’ Building

The Writers’ Building is the secretariat building of the State Government of West Bengal. The building stretches to 150 meters (492 feet) covering the entire northern stretch of the iconic Lal Dighi pond in the downtown area of B.B.D. Bagh. It used to serve as the main administrative office for junior clerks (writers) of the British East India Company.

3.  General Post Office

It is located at the same spot where the old fort was built by the British and serves as the chief post office of West Bengal handling most of the city's inbound and outbound mail and parcels. It is an imposing structure of the GPO that makes it a famous landmark in the city, especially noted for its imposing high domed roof rising over 220 feet and tall Ionic-Corinthian pillars.

Dalhousie Square – A Foodie’s Paradise

Dalhousie Square is a heaven for the street food junkies with varied options available including Luchi, Kochuri and Aloodom, Cholar Dal, Rice with Fish Curry and several types of sweets. Offering a variety of lip-smacking platter of snacks and meals ranging from typical Bengali cuisine to South Indian and Mughlai dishes and also a variety of Chinese cuisine, Dalhousie Square, Kolkata is a must visit if you are looking for some delectable food at cheap rates.

A push from here, a nudge from there, a dish of this and a dash of that – that’s Dalhousie Square, Kolkata in a nutshell. Explore it for an amalgamation of aroma, flavour and views.

See More:

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Fort William in Kolkata – The Mighty Edifice

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