(Last Updated on : 17/04/2009)
Fort William is a remnant of the British legacy in India, reminding of the military power that was supreme and still remains as one very impressive structure. The Fort William is at present the property of the Indian army and the headquarters of Eastern Command. The huge structure is built on an extensive 532 bighas of land and came into existence in the year 1781. It was built by Robert Clive and named after King William III of England.
Fort William of Kolkata is situated on the bank of River Ganga, near the Vivekananda Setu or the 2nd Hoogly River Bridge. The place is well known for its serene and calm beauty and its distinctively green surroundings. In the hub of the city it stands as an ancestor with whom a long history of oppression and rule is associated.
In the history of Kolkata there were actually two Fort Williams in British Calcutta, the old and the new fort Williams. The Old Fort dates back to the very early days of the British rule in Kolkata, under Sir Charles Eyre who began constructing the southeast bastion and the adjacent walls, which was carried on by John Beard who added the northeast bastion around 1701. The Government House was set amidst Fort William in 1702 and it was completed in 1706. After the attack of the Nawab and the Battle of Plassey the British were taken aback and were shaken to the core by the fear of loosing out the city, this made them replace the original Fort William, Kolkata. In 1758, the foundation of the castle was laid in 1758 and was completed in 1781, which was made at a huge expense of 2 million British Pounds.
The Fort William has the capability to accommodate a `garisson` of 10,000 men, there is also a museum that attracts the tourist, which showcases arms and armors, swords, muskets and machine-guns, photographs of the Burma campaign and of the Bangladesh Liberation War. The Arsenal can also be visited with permission from the Commanding Officer of Fort William, Kolkata. The architectural brilliance of the Fort is evident in the way it was built. The fort is a massive structure and has six gates. Chowringhee, Plassey Calcutta, Water gate St. Georges and Treasury Gate. The Fort was octagonal in shape with three sides facing river Ganges this was strategically built so that it could be resisted from attacks. To avoid water scarcity, reservoirs were made along with underground tunnels constructed that linked the reservoirs to river Ganges.
The Fort William today has a distinct atmosphere, with airs of freedom engulfing it. 10,000 odd military personnel are residents of the Fort today and for their welfare and relaxation, the army has provided every kind of facilities within the Fort premises like the swimming pool, shopping mall, cinema hall, laundry, outdoor playground, restaurants and even a post office.
Hence the Fort William today has a changed face and it is of a colossal stature always personifying the British legacy in Kolkata. One can easily reach the For William via metro, buses or taxis and the Howrah Railway station is the nearest among Railway stations. Photography is not allowed due to security reasons. Timing is set from 10 am to 12 pm during the office hours.