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Semaphore Towers ~ A Pre – Telegram Communication System

Semaphore Towers

A Pre – Telegram Communication System

Its a typical rural Bengal landscape, a villager makes is way through agricultural fields, but the chimney like structure is definitely unique. Its not a chimney of the brick kilns that dot the Bengal rural landscape nor is it a wtach tower used to keep eye on invading Bargi (Maratha).

Semaphore Tower, Parbatichak, Arambagh, Hooghly, West Bengal
Semaphore Tower, Parbatichak, Arambagh, Hooghly, West Bengal

Its a semaphore tower, quiet a few of which still dot the rural as well as urban landscapes of West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand.

Inside of Semaphore Tower at Parbatichak

Inside of Semaphore Tower at Parbatichak

A look inside the four story structure revels the absence of stairs. In most cases the wooden platform of the top have collapsed but a few towers the portions of the top platform can still be seen.

Semaphore, popularly known as visual telegraph or optical telegraph, was a most popular communication technology in the pre –  telegram days. It is a system of conveying information by means of visual signals, using towers with pivoting shutters, also known as blades or paddles. The signals were observed from the next tower by means of telescope and relayed on to the next tower.  It was first introduced in France by Napoleon in 1790s.

Semaphore was introduced in India by the British during 1816 – 1830 when series of towers were planned between Calcutta Fort William and Chunar Fort of Varanasi (Benaras). The line said to contain 70 – 80 feet high towers at an interval of 8 miles (13 KM).

A local escorts Amitabha Gupta to Ramsagar Semaphore Tower

A local escorts Amitabha Gupta to Ramsagar Semaphore Tower

There were plans of extending the line all the way to Bombay, via Nagpur, but there are no official records of the semaphore towers  actually being constructed on this line.

The amazing technology of semaphore died prematurely after the introduction of electric tTelegraph, which was officially introduced in India in 1854.

Many of the semaphore towers on the Calcutta – Varanasi line have crumbled to dust but quiet a few have survived the test of time and centuries of human neglect and natural disasters and can still be seen to this day. Many are in reasonably good condition while some are on the verge of collapsing.

Some are located next to rail lines and roadways while some stands as sentinels amidst agricultural fields. Some are located atop hill tops while some located deep inside dense forest. Each of  these are semaphore towers have their own legends and have a number of folklore attached with them.  In Howrah and Hooghly the semaphore towers are called Girja (Church) and in Bankura and Purila they are known as Mancha (elevated platform).

As on 15 July 2013 the Telegram in India makes its way into history books Amitabha Gupta, a fellow photographer and history enthusiast, and I decided to take a tour (or rather several tours) to locate the semaphore towers.

1. Fort William, Kolkata

District: Kolkata, West Bengal

Google Map Location

Fort William Semaphore Tower, later used as Ball Tower

Fort William Semaphore Tower, later used as Ball Tower

The Fort William, the new fort of Kolkata (then Calcutta) was built in 1758, after the old one (located near present day GPO) was destroyed by Siraj Ud Daulah’s army in 1756.

Located in the a highly restricted area the Fort William Semaphore Tower is best viewed from a river Hooghly River Cruise. The tower is also visible from the Second Hooghly Bridge. But I did manage a permission to shoot inside the highly restricted area.

Since it is under the army it is well maintained with a fresh coat of milk white paint and is topped with a white colourd ball. After the advent of Telegraph in 1850s the Semaphore technology was scrapped.

Later in 1881 the Fort William authorities decided to convert the semaphore tower into a Ball Tower. It acted as a time indicator as the ball was raised at 12:55 pm and lowered at 1:00 pm every day, providing the exact time to the mariners. Sadly this operation has long stopped.

2. Khatirbazar, Andul

District: Howrah, West Bengal

Google Map Location

Semaphore Tower, Andul, Howrah

Semaphore Tower, Andul, Howrah

The semaphore tower at Khatirbazar, Andul is one of the easiest to spot. If you are travelling from the Second Hooghly Bridge a right turn from the Andul more (crossing) and a few minutes drive will take you to the semaphore tower located on a busy junction of three roads.

Locally known as Girja, the semaphore tower is in good condition and almost intact barring a few cracks. Sadly it is heavily encroached upon and even one of the entrance to the tower have sealed off by a wall of a shop.

The four storied tower is provided with arched entrances, windows and even circular ventilators. Each of the four tires are marked with projected rims. Portions of the top tier seem to have chipped off over time, as have the bricks from the walls.

A look inside reveals no trace of any staircase and the wooden platform on the top has long collapsed.

Every day thousand of locals pass by this historic structure with out knowning about its significance. But there are exceptions too a nearby shopkeeper provided us with the details of the towers history, which also included a brief on the semaphore system.

3. Dilakash, Jangipara

District: Hooghly, West Bengal

Google Map Location

Semaphore Tower, Dilakash, Jangipara

Semaphore Tower, Dilakash, Jangipara

Similar to the Andul semaphore tower the one at Dilakash, Jangipara, Hooghly is also located on the road and easy to spot. If you are driving from Calcutta (Kolkata) take the Howrah – Jangipara road and just before reaching Sitapur Bazar take a left turn from the petrol pump. Its 9 km from the petrol pump.

But if you are travelling by public transport get down at the petrol pump and take a auto to Dilakash Girjatala. But mind you the auto ride is not for the faint hearted as you probably have to hung out of the overcrowded auto !!!!

Like the Andul tower the semaphore tower at Dilakash is also heavily encroached upon and one of its arched entrance have been blocked .

Located on the right side of the road the semaphore towers stands like a sentinel towering above the encroached structure and the surrounding rural landscape.

The platform on the top, of the four tire tower, has long collapsed but traces of timber can still be seen in the intermediate stages. Overall the tower is in good condition.

This tower was also used as a survey post for the Great Trigonometrical Survey (GTS).

4. Parbatichak, Arambagh

District: Hooghly, West Bengal

Google Map Location

Semaphore Tower, Parbatichak, Arambagh

Semaphore Tower, Parbatichak, Arambagh

The semaphore tower at Parbatichak, Arambagh, Hooghly is the grandest of the lot. Located in the midst of agricultural field the tower is totally free of encroachment and is in remarkably good condition. Even large portion of the top platform can still be seen.

The best way to reach the Parbatichak semaphore tower is to take the Arambagh – Bandar road from Arambagh. As you pass the village of Parbatichak you will spot the tower on the left located about 10 meters off the road in the middle of an agricultural field. Buses are also available but they can be horribly overcrowded, especially on weekdays.

Centuries of human neglect and effects of nature have little effect on the two century old tower. Even large section of the lime plaster on the inner and outer walls can still be seen. This tower was also used as a survey post of the Great Trigonometrical Survey (GTS).

An over enthusiastic local narrated a strange story of a magnet being dug up by thieves from the base of the tower!!! In spite of the strange story he was more or less aware of the significance of the semaphore tower and also provided us with the necessary information for tracking down the nearby semaphore tower in Goghat.

5. Goghat, Arambagh

District: Hooghly, West Bengal

Google map Location

Semaphore Tower, Goghat, Arambagh, Hooghly

Semaphore Tower, Goghat, Arambagh, Hooghly

The semaphore tower at Goghat, Arambagh, Hooghly is located on the Arambagh – Joyrambati & Kamarpukur road. But unlike the tower at Parvatichak it is not on the main road.

Located about half a kilometer off the road the tower can be spotted on the right (if you are travelling from Arambagh) just after leaving the village of Goghat. Take the right turn from Pachakhal Dhal and an unpaved road beneath a canopy of trees leads to the semaphore tower, locally known as Girja.

Buses are available from Arambagh but the last half kilometer stretch have to be covered on foot.

There is no constructional encroachment but the semaphore tower at Goghat is encroached with trees, including some recently planted eucalyptus trees. Apart from some huge cracks which passes through the arches the tower is more or less in a good condition.

The top platform no longer exists but the floor paved with thin bricks is almost completely intact, indicating that no one has ever dug it up in search of magnets or treasures !!!!

6. Tantipukur, Bishnupur

District: Bankura, West Bengal

Semaphore Tower, Tantipukur, Bishnupur, Bankura

Semaphore Tower, Tantipukur, Bishnupur, Bankura

Tantipukur semaphore tower is the eastern most of the three semaphore towers located in the Bishnupur region. Located deep inside the Joypur forest, an afforestation project of West Bengal forest department, it is extremely difficult to spot.

If you are travelling from Bishnupur just after pasing Tantiupara you will enter the Joypur forest. Soon you will come to a bridge across a canal.

Don’t cross the canal but turn right and move along the unmetaled road. Within 10 meters the semaphore tower, hidden inside the dense jungle, comes into view on the left. Do be very careful because quite likely you are going to miss it.

The only way to reach the tower is through the jungle is to scramble through thorny bushes infested with spiders along with their nets. The tower is covered on all sides by trees, planted by the forest department during an afforestation program, and is extremely difficult to photograph.

A strange spectacle awaited us inside the Tantipara semaphore tower. The base was dug up leaving a large hole several feet deep. It was probably a result of people looking out for hidden treasures or hidden magnets!!!!!!

7. Ramsagar. Bishnupur

District: Bankura, West Bengal

Semaphore Tower, Ramsagar, Bishnupur, Bankura

Semaphore Tower, Ramsagar, Bishnupur, Bankura

Located just beyond the Ramsagar station on the Bishnupur – Bankura railway line the tower is extremely difficult to reach. Although visible both from the Bishnupur – Bankura road and rail line it can be only reached by a half a kilometer of walk through agricultural fields.

A local villagers, who cultivates vegetable in the shadows of the Ramsagar semaphore tower volunteered as an escort.  It was monsoon time and the path was muddy, with the mud reaching well above our ankle and we had to made our way across a canal with knee deep water.

The tower was is bad shape the top has toppled off and the tower seemed to split into two. According to the locals the tower was struck by lightning causing extensive damage. The ruined tower flanked with two trees on either side and in the back drop 0f rural Bengal created a stunning spectacle.

8. Ondagram, Bishnupur

District: Bankura, West Bengal

Semaphore Tower, Ondagram, Bishnupur, Bankura

Semaphore Tower, Ondagram, Bishnupur, Bankura

The semaphore tower of Ondagram is visiable both from the road as well as the train line connecting Bishnupur and Bankura, in fact the tower can be spotted on the left just before the train enters the Ondagram station from Bishnupur.

If you are travelling by road you have to take a right turn just before Ondagram to reach the semaphore tower. There are at least 5 semaphore towers in Bankura District, 3 of which are in the Bishnupur region.

The locals call them Mancha (elevated platforms) and wrongly known as communication towers of the Malla Rajas.

These is the eastern most of the three semaphore towers of the Bishnupur region. Located at the edge of an agricultural fields the semaphore tower at Ondagram is almost free from encroachment.

Apart from the huge cracks through the arches the tower is in more or less good condition. Traces of the plaster can still be seen on the outer surface while majority of the plaster on the inner wall has survived the test of time.

9. Arra

District: Bankura, West Bengal

Google Map Location

Arra Semaphore Tower

Arra Semaphore Tower

Arra is a village on western Bankura district and is near the Purulia boarder. The nearest rail station is Jhantipahari. The village is located on the Ksipur – Chatna road.

The tower is located just outside the village at the edge of agricultural fields. If one is travellling from Jhantipahari or Chatna side the tower will be on the right hand side.It is visible from the road and is located just before the village of Arra.

It is similar to the previous towers but the entrance is not arched. However the windows in the upper part are arched. The interiors are also pretty intact with part of the wooden roof still visible.

10. Joychandi Hill

District: Purulia, West Bengal

Google Map Location

Semaphore Tower, Jaichandi Hill[/caption

Semaphore Tower, Joychandi Hill

As ones move further west into the western end of West Bengal the landscape changes. The flat flood planes of Bengal gives away to the undulating hills of Purulia.

Taking advantage of the hills they built the tower on strategic position on hill tops and thus increasing the visibility.

As the hills provided the natural elevation the semaphore towers were reduced in size. Unlike the four storied semaphore towers in the planes of Bengal those up in the hills of Purulia and Jharkhand were two storied.

The best way to view the Jaichandi semaphore tower is from the nearby tourist spot of Baranti (or Boronti). Joychandi Hill is a rocky hill crowned with a temple of Devi Chandi. The temple is approachable by a meandering 480 step stairway.

Just below the temple stands the two storied semaphore tower. Although structurally sound it is not in very good shape and there are no traces of the wooden platform on the top.

Although not exactly on the top the tower is strategically built with with visibility on both eastern and western sides, thus providing an optical link between Calcutta and Benaras.

Note: The Calcutta – Varanasi has few towers not covered by me. These are Chhatna (Bankura, West Bengal), Satanpur Hill (Bokaro, Jharkhand) and Silwar Hill (Hazaribagh, Jharkhand).

Other Semaphore Towers

exploring the semaphore towers of other lines

Also there are two other semaphore lines. The first one known as the Tidal Semaphore Line, was along the Hooghly River extending from Kolkata to Kidgree (present day Khejuri). Most of the semaphore towers have long been swallowed up by the advancing Hooghly River.

Semaphore tower, Latbagan, Barrackpore

Semaphore tower, Latbagan, Barrackpore

The other semaphore line was from Fort William, Kolkata to Latbagan Barrackpore. The Barrackpore Semaphore Tower still exist (Google Map Location).

A semaphore tower near Prabartak Jute Mill bus stop just off BT Road and behind Pratham Housing complex is probably part of the Calcutta – Barrackpur line.

The tower falls very near to the Calcutta Base Line of The Great Trigonometrical Survey (GTS). The location of this tower matches with the Trigonometrical Station (TS) named Noáda is listed in GTS Synopsis Volume XII (page 105) but does not appear in the detailed descriptions of stations.

A semaphore tower near Prabartak Jute Mill

A semaphore tower near Prabartak Jute Mill

Like the nearby GTS towers in Paikpara and Sukhchar the tower is maintained by the Public Works department (PWD). The structure is remarkably intact but the plaster (probably of cement) was added later. The arched windows have been sealed off and the non arched entrance is partially covered by the raising road level.

It lies in a very congested area and the locals use the interiors as a garbage dump. Strangely the interiors are remarkably intact with large portions of the roof still in intact condition. Also portions of the intermediate flooring can still be seen.

Even wooden frames at the intermediate stages have survived the test of time. According to locals the stairs were intact even two decades ago. The middle aged residence of the area share their childhood memories of climbing up the narrow ladders to the top (Google Map Location).

Great Trigonometrical Survey (GTS) Tower Connect

Later in the 1830s many of the abandoned Semaphore Towers were used as GTs Towers by George Everest. The optical telegraph or Semaphore Towers required some modification for survey and several of them were modified and were used in GTS.

Collage of GTS Towers

Collage of GTS Towers
Left – right: Paikpara, Akanpur, Bhalki, Bhola and Sukchar

the towers have been built earlier in the century as part of a primitive, pre-elctric telegraph system by which messages, preferably short ones, could be flashed up-country from tower to tower. Everest had himself worked on the telegraph towers before being posted to the Great Trigonometrical Survey in 1818…

John Keay, The Great Arc

More on:

Future of Semaphore Towers in India

Nothing to Cherish

Even a few years ago a a similar semaphore tower stood next to the Bankura railway station, sadly it was broken down to give way for a stadium!!! Something which is only possible in a country like India.

While the semaphore towers in France and several other countries are maintained in their original condition. Several of these are even used as demonstration purpose making tourist aware of the the optical telegraph.

Can this be done in India or shall we leave the semaphore towers to crumble to dust ??????

Special Thanks:

  • Amitabha Gupta, friend and fellow photographer, for accompanying me in the hunt for semaphore towers.


  • This is a compilation article and would be updated from time to time.
  1. July 17, 2013 at 12:43 PM

    Thank you Rangan for the wonderful article. Just wondering how the person on duty must be climbing up to the top platform. Maybe there was no staircase for security reasons. Maybe there was a rope ladder, the person on duty pulls it up after climbing to prevent unwanted elements to come after him.

    • July 19, 2013 at 12:27 PM

      Thanks Dominic (Pouchong Lee) for your comment. There was no permanent stairs, but probably they used a wooden / bamboo ladder. Life Life was tough for the semaphore operator but sadly there is no record of their daily activity.

  2. July 17, 2013 at 3:50 PM

    Rangan da, use of semaphore in the Hooghly river for navigation of ships was quite common till a few decades back. you can still find semaphore on either bank of the Hooghly from Kidderpore onwards till Sagar island. can we have another documentation on that? i can help you out also. 🙂

  3. July 17, 2013 at 7:14 PM

    Supratim, you are right on that point.

    Many of the places where 13 Semaphore telegraph stations was in action between Calcutta and Khejuri erected between 1831-1833, in the present day ( at least till 2005) three armed Tidal semaphores were being used to indicate the rise of the tide in the Hugli River. Although they have somewhat less significance as the whole system is computerized at present.

    Could you tell me if there are any masonry towers remains in this line or just the Semaphores ?

    • July 18, 2013 at 1:36 PM

      Amitabha da, so far as i remember, only a semaphore near Batanagar has its masonry structure remnants. In rest of the cases, hardly any structure remains. We studied semaphore (both theory and practical) as a mode of communication / tidal wave measurement during our course at Sea Explorers’ Institute. Anyway, i was wondering whether Bhalkimachan, near Guskara, is also a semaphore. Maybe not because of its different structure. Has it anything to do with the word, “machan”?

      • July 19, 2013 at 3:48 AM


        Good to know that.

        Having tracked out the Calcutta – Chunar line ( 12 Stations discovered and looking for more), I am eager to track down the Calcutta – Khejuri line.

        Bhalkimachan is definitely not a Semaphore Tower.
        Apart from being a different shape than a Semaphore Tower, it does not fall in the line of
        any of three Semaphore Lines from Calcutta which existed in the early 19th century.

        The Chunar Line went from Fort William to Howrah, Hooghly, Bankura, Purulia and then into Bihar. I have mentioned the route in details in my blog.

        And the Calcutta Barrackpore line also does not include Burdwan or Birbhum in it.

        I found that In Bankura (and also in Jharkhand) any unrecognized tower like structure is referred to as Machan. Looks like in Burdwan they had same idea. 🙂

      • July 19, 2013 at 12:29 PM

        Yes Amitabha da, Bhalkimachan cannot be called a semaphore tower. But it came to my mind after reading your post that “machan” was a common word for the towers. 🙂 Anyway, i read your blog yesterday after Rangan da sent the link. It’s simply superb with intricate details.

    • July 19, 2013 at 12:54 PM

      Thanks Supratim and Amitabha fro the long thread of discussion. Really Amitabha’s and my blog post on the semaphore towers have created quiet a sensation !!!!! Also thanks to people like Supratim for adding on more infos.

      The Semaphore tower near Batanagar really sounds interesting, but Bhalki Machan is definitely not a semaphore tower not it is a GTS one. Amithabha has also pointed out that it does not fall on any of the propose semaphore lines, nor does it fall on George Everest’s Calcutta latitude. It was probably a real machan used by locals rajas for hunting!!!!

      Thanks Supratim your comment only shows that we have a long way to go in unfolding the mysteries of Semaphore in India.

      • Amit Mahajan
        May 10, 2018 at 3:02 PM

        The tower in Bhalki Machan is a GTS tower as confirmed by Prof. Keith. D. Lilley, Department of Historical Geography, Queens University, Belfast, Northern Ireland.

    • May 10, 2018 at 3:07 PM

      Thanks Amit Mahajan. I did have a interaction with Prof. Keith. D. Lilley during his last visit to Kolkata.

      Although we didn’t discuss about the Bhalki Machan Tower but I do believe it is a GTS tower with two collapsed sides. I came across a similar tower in Samalia, 24 Parganas (S) with one side collapsed..

      Thanks once more.

  4. Indrani Chatterjee
    July 18, 2013 at 3:43 AM

    Great work all around, in photographing and investigating the remains of the semaphore towers. Since I work on the land records of the same region prior to the 1830s, my guess is that these towers were built on lands that were confiscated by the Company from many of its defeated rivals in the region- like the Sufi Afghan fortholders of the Birbhum raj, the holders of the Mayurbhanj dynasts etc. In addition to many of those family members being impoverished over time, these towers have also come to remind locals of a past they would much rather forget. Hence nobody either wishes to preserve these towers, nor do historians find traces of these towers in the official documents. That makes your work even more necessary, and admirable. Best regards.

    • July 19, 2013 at 12:34 PM

      Thanks Ms Indrani Chatterjee not only for the comment but also throwing light into an area of which I was totally unaware off.

      From my research I found that the semaphore communication was never used widely even in the two decades before the introduction of the Telegraph, may be the reasons pointed by you were the cause of the downfall of semaphore.

      Thanks once more.

  5. Premasish Roy
    July 18, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    I appreciate your sharing of this wonderful retrospective vista of a structure which had hardly arrested people’s attention to ponder over or had been conveniently overlooked by the passerby. I really admire this piquant research-bent of mind of yours. Indeed!! It’s a very informative article. It reminds me of coming across such Semaphores but I never knew its purpose and function. I remember faintly that I have seen one such Semaphore near Kamarhati on B.T.Road. Well, I am not sure whether it is a Semaphore or something else but it resembles one of those structures. I appreciate your quest for knowledge and its presentation through your impeccable photography. I have coined a sobriquet for you – “Photoscient Rangan” – Premasish Roy.

    • July 19, 2013 at 12:39 PM

      Thanks Premasish for your long and inspiring comment.

      The towers seen by you on BT Road, near Kamarhati (there is also one in Paikpara) are not semaphore towers. They were GTS towers used during the Great Trigonometrical Survey. In fact the GTS survey in Bengal was headed by non other then Sir George Everest himself.

      A semaphore tower is circular while a GTS tower is square. This is the main distinction between a semaphore and GTS tower.

      If of the semaphore towers were also used as GTS towers, as I have mentioned in my blog.

      Thanks once more.

  6. Saurab Basu
    July 18, 2013 at 10:11 PM

    This is Bad… You Two did not even let me know… Not fair

    • July 19, 2013 at 1:18 PM

      Saurab nice to hear from you after a loooong time. You have been in hibernation mode for a long time.

      Our Semaphore Tower exploration is far from over and hope to see you travelling with us in overcrowded non AC buses or hanging behind autos and making way through dense vegetation of thorny bushes infested with spiders. Not to mention the the long walks through ankle deep mud and knee deep waters.

      Hope to see you in our next semaphore tower exploration!!!1

  7. yousuf
    July 21, 2013 at 12:22 AM

    Amader gram’r barir okhane erom ekta tower achhe, amra Girja bolei jani….sunechhi survey’r jonno banano hoyechhilo….tobe semaphore kina janina…amader gram Burdwan > Raina P.S> Ebidpur gram

    echhara aro kichhu dure khondoghodh thanay Burdwan-Berugram route e onchol bole ekta jaygay erokom tower’r dhonsabosesh achhe…sekhaneo jete pare..

    amar naamTai dewa hoyni…

    Md Yousuf Hayat

    • August 1, 2013 at 9:51 PM

      Thanks Yusuf for providing the information. I am planning to visit the places soon. I will let you know about my findings.

      Thanks once more.

  8. Commodore B K Mohanti
    July 21, 2013 at 3:36 PM

    I was certainly fascinated by this info.Being an old naval officer having used semaphore it made a lot of sense.

  9. July 22, 2013 at 10:29 AM

    Thanks Rangan for the detailed article, valuable photographs and your research. I work for BBC in Delhi and was doing Telegram story last week. But I didn’t know that such kind of mammoth structures exist on Indian soil. Thanks again for your insights. Would be glad if you could send me the big pics of these magnificent structures. My email is- ___________

    • August 1, 2013 at 9:55 PM

      Thanks Ajay, feel proud to receive a comment from a some one who works in BBC.

    July 25, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    I am very pleased, Rangan, at your meticulous perseverance. Keep it up. What happened to the 49th Bengalis?
    Take a look at the recent additions in my blog (JOYDEEP SIRCAR : An eclectic collection.
    All the best.

    • August 1, 2013 at 9:50 PM

      Thanks Joydeep Sir. Just had a look at your blog it looks wonderful. I will definitely read it in details.

      I am still working on the 49th Bengali Regiment, it would take a few days time.

      Thanks once more.

  11. July 28, 2013 at 10:21 PM

    Hi Rangan,

    You have indeed taken lot of pains to produce this Wonderful post! I have linked back to this post. 🙂

    • August 1, 2013 at 9:45 PM

      Dear Sir (tvraraj) thanks for your comment and also for providing a link. You too have a wonderful blog and really honored to get a link from your esteemed blog.

      • August 1, 2013 at 9:52 PM

        Dear Rangan,

        It is indeed my pleasure to encourage young writers like you. For this reason I repost articles of others that really impress me.


  12. October 2, 2013 at 3:17 PM

    Thank you Rangan ji for valuable information.

  13. August 6, 2014 at 8:24 AM

    Rangan, I learnt many things from your blog. Thank you very much for the images and information.

    • December 5, 2014 at 3:14 PM

      Amal da your comments and inspirations are a constant source of encouragement.

  14. Dr. Dilip Kr. Sarkar
    November 29, 2015 at 10:31 PM

    Thank you Sir. Useful Infos. I have seen two other semaphore towers : one between Nalikul and Kamarkundu railway station (on the northern side) on Seoraphuli-Tarakeswar branch line, and another in the Joypur forest in Bankura district – southern side of highway. I like to be enlightened.

    • November 29, 2015 at 11:39 PM

      Thank you sir for the comment. I have mentioned about the Semaphore Tower in Joypur Forest. The actual name of the place in Tantipukur, please do have a look again.

      For the tower between Nalikul and Kamarkundu railway station (on the northern side) on Seoraphuli-Tarakeswar branch line, it is a Great Trigonometrical Survey (GTS) tower not a semaphore tower. GTS towers are generally square while the semaphore towers are square.

  15. Pradip Ghosh
    April 17, 2016 at 11:00 PM

    Sir the range of the telescope at that time was around 20 Km . Why we see these towers in so less in number now considering some of them has been demolished. I personally visited the one in Khatirbazar.

  16. Samarpan Sarkar
    March 25, 2018 at 10:42 AM


    Pen and ink drawing by Sir Charles D’Oyly (1781-1845), of the village of Silwar in Bihar, from an Album of 80 drawings of views in Bengal and Bihar taken between January 1823 and May 1825. The largest group of drawings consists of sketches made between 26 January and 27 February 1823 during a journey from Calcutta to Gaya (Bihar) along the ‘New Military Road’. This road passed through Manbhum district (Bihar) to Hazaribagh (Bihar) and through the hills to the N.W. to join the present Grand Trunk Road near Sherghati (Gaya district, Bihar). Begun in 1782, it had semaphore signalling towers built along it in the early years of the 19th century.

    Original drawing for plate 9 of ‘Sketches of the New Road in a Journey from Calcutta to Gyah’ (Calcutta, 1830). D’Oyly wrote, “The village of Silwar, situated at the foot of a very prettily shaped Hill on the lower peak of which is seen a Telegraph Tower, forms a very pleasing view. The cluster of habitations composing the village is enclosed by a Palisade of reeds to guard against their nightly depredations of Bears, which here as at Ruggoonauthpore, secrete themselves in the cavities of the Rocky hill & make depradations on the Fruits and Granaries of the Inhabitants. Adjoining the principal Hill is a small eminence, crowned by a very singular shaped Pile of Rocks, assuming at a distance, the form of a diadem, and between these the Road runs. The distance of this village from Calcutta is 236 miles.”

  17. Samarpan Sarkar
    March 25, 2018 at 10:47 AM

    The Srirampur communication system was removed after 5th December 1851.It probably used the Mughal era information routes.

  18. Haroon Tareen
    May 7, 2020 at 5:08 PM

    Thank you for such a wonderfully researched and photographed document. World class indeed, the write-up.

  19. Santanu Kundu
    May 14, 2020 at 7:49 PM

    The article is very illuminating and makes us aware regarding a forgotten chapter in the history of communication in India. It is also a very interesting travelogue giving details of the roads leading to the semaphore towers, the landscape and the available conveyance to reach the towers. It is a commendable effort to preserve the history of communication in India.

  20. February 16, 2021 at 4:53 PM

    Please also add Barrackpore Semaphore Tower Image to this vlog. Wonderful infromation with picture .

    • February 16, 2021 at 4:55 PM

      There sre certain restritions in photographing the Barrackpore Semaphore Tower

  21. Amritendu Dey
    March 16, 2022 at 2:43 PM

    Hi, Rangan .. I have found 4 new Semaphore Towers enroute Kolkata – Benaras line beyond Jaychandi hill Semaphore Tower though Google Satellite Image. These are exactly 8 miles (13 KM) apart of each-other. Kindly check Google Satellite Image. I’m providing link of Google map here..

    1. 23°36’18.6″N 86°33’39.3″Ehttps://goo.gl/maps/ANNsEg2UjYDghTZb7

    2. 23°46’13.6″N 86°22’02.2″Ehttps://goo.gl/maps/KHPuJbqhMdzhveEs7

    3. 23°54’11.6″N 86°12’28.3″Ehttps://goo.gl/maps/9sZeuTtaN33JpYyt6

    4. 23°59’40.8″N 85°26’19.8″Ehttps://goo.gl/maps/qxD1T4Yw3LyJ3TuV9

    4th one is on the silwar mountain in present day Jharkhand which was also mentioned in historical document.

  22. Ankit Mukherjee
    October 30, 2022 at 11:39 PM

    Hello sir, My self Ankit Mukherjee, from Chhatna, bankura………… As per you Semaphore Towers Research….. just like same to same a semaphore tower is located at Chhatna…………. Here also you find some historacal place like Baru Chandidas home, Basuli temple, a Raj bari of Samanta pravu of Bisnupur Malla raj………. please come at chhatna

  1. July 28, 2013 at 10:15 PM
  2. December 21, 2015 at 10:33 AM
  3. September 29, 2020 at 6:30 AM

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