Writers’ Building ~ Calcutta (Kolkata)
“At the centre of Calcutta lay the Writers’ Building, where the young Company officials were lodged while they underwent their initial training.”
White Mughals by William Dalrymple
Writers’ Building is so called because it once housed the clerical and administrative staff (writers) of East India Company. Today it houses the main state secretariat and the office of the Chief Minister. The 150 mts long building occupies the entire nort end of the Lal Dighi (Tank Square).
Built in 1777 and the designed by Thomas Lyon the building has undergone several extension and changes over the years.
In 1821 128 long verandah with ionic columns, each 32 feet high, were added on the first and second floor. During 1879 – 1906 Writers’ were given its familiar Greco – Roman look, complete with the portico in the central bay and the red surface of exposed bricks. The parapet was put in place and the statues sculpted by William Fredric Woodington were added in 1883, that line the terrace, were installed.
Minerva stands above the central portico. The almost invisible inscription of the word “Minerva” can be still be seen in the statues foot. The statue has also suffered the effects of human neglect. The once broken left hand has been replaced but sadly it lacks the grace and beauty of its former counterpart.
Also the terrace contains several other statues notable are the statues representing Agriculture, Commerce, Justice and Science. Each set consists of three statues with Queen Victoria in the Middle. She is flanked on both sides by respective representatives of Britain and India.
The Siege of Writers’ Building (1930)
On 8th December 1930 Benoy Basu, Badal Gupta and Dinesh Gupta headed for the Writers’ Building. Dressed in European out fit they carried loaded revolvers. They shot dead the notorious Inspector General of Police Colonel N S Simpson, infamous for his brutal oppression of the prisoners in the jail.
They shot dead Col Simpson and took siege of the Writers’ Building, soon a gun battle followed in the corridors of the Writers’ Building. Unable to match up with the might force of Calcutta Police, the trio soon find themselves overpowered and cornered.
Unwilling to give themselves up Badal took Potassium Cyanide and died instantly, while his fellow comrades shot themselves. Benoy died five days later in hospital but Dinesh survived only to be hanged to death on 7th July 1931.
Todaythe Dalhousie Square is named after the trio and is called BBD Bagh. A statue of Benoy, Badal & Dinesh stand in front of Writers’ Building, showing Benoy, the group leader, leading his comrades for the last battle.
For more information on Siege of Writers’ Building visit:
- Calcutta Town Hall showing a light and sound show of the ivent.
- Calcutta Police Museum. at Manicktala, housing the revolvers of the trio and other documents.
- White Mughals by William Dalrymple.
- 10 walks in Calcutta by Prosenjit Das Gupta
- Writs of Writers, by Soumitra Das (The Telegarph 20 May 2011)
- Saswata Kolkata by Nisth Ranjan Roy
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List of my Blog entries on Calcutta (Kolkata)