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Get the glimpses of expansionist ambitions of the East India Company at Fort William Kolkata which played a major role in the establishment of British Raj over Bengal and India. For long it remained a main administrative block. Today it is under the control of Indian army and is certainly a must visit place in Kolkata.
Fort William is located on the banks of river Hooghly towards the eastern end. It was constructed during the initial years of the British Raj. Fort William Kolkata is named after King William II of Scotland and King William III of Ireland and England.
Interesting History of Fort William
There are two Fort William in Kolkata – old Fort William and New Fort William. The old fort William was built in the year 1696 by the British East India Company. Sir Charles Eyre and Sir John Beard prime architects of Fort William , constructed the South East Bastion and North East Bastion in the years 1701 and 1702 respectively. In the year 1706, a factory was constructed in the center of the fort. Apart from this Fort William Kolkata also had an internal guard room which became famous as‘The Black Hole of Kolkata’.
Siraj-Ud-Daulah, the king of Bengal attacked the British and conquered the city of Kolkata in the year 1756. During this phase, the Britishers had to construct a new fort in the Maidan. The re-construction of Fort William Kolkata started two years in 1758 by Sir Robert Clive and costed around two million pounds. It took almost twenty five years to complete to rebuild the fort. Along with seven bastions and seven gates, Fort William Kolkata has a fifty feet high wall. The surrounding area turned into a beautiful park. The good part about the fort is the fact the it is said to be the only fort in the world from where no firing has taken place.
The old fort William continued to serve as a Customs house since 1766.
Today, Fort Williams Kolkata is a property of the Indian Army. The Eastern Command of the Army has its headquarters in Fort William Kolkata. It is said to accommodate at least ten thousand army personnel. The fort has all the amenities of city life. It has a church, swimming pool, hospitals, cinema, two sports stadium and much more. The Arsenal inside is worth visiting. But to visit it, prior permission has to be taken from the Commanding Officer of the Indian Army.
Address: Khidirpur Rd, Kolkata, WB Controlled by: Indian Army Garrison: Eastern Command
St. Peters Church
St. Peters Church inside Fort Williams once upon a time used to be a church for the residents of Kolkata but now it has been turned into a library for the Army men. The Fort also has a museum which has several documents from Bangladesh Liberation War.
The Golf Club
Fort William Kolkata also has a golf club known as “The Fort William Environmental Park & Training Area” for the development and promotion of this game. It is often frequented by retired defense and army personnel in Kolkata. The course with perfect holes and numerous tees is considered to be one of the finest golf courses in India.
Fort William College
The fort also housed a college inside known as ‘Fort William College’ established by Lord Wellesley which had courses in Oriental Studies.
Today, Fort William area witnesses gathering of crowds on 26th of January, i.e. Republic day of India. People in groups throng to get first hand experience of the march past. Photographs or taking photographs in side the premises of Fort William is not allowed. Reason it serves as garrison of Eastern command of Indian army.