Monday, January 2, 2012

Kolkata Kaleidoscope : Metcalfe Hall

During one of my walks in the Dalhousie area, the heart of the Kolkata's business centre, I came across the Metcalfe Hall at the juncture of Strand Road and Hare Street. It was built between 1840-44, was designed by the city magistrate C.K. Robinson and was named after Sir Charles Metcalfe, who officiated as the Governor General in 1835-36 during the interval of the departure of Lord Bentinck and arrival of Lord Auckland, in honour of his efforts towards a free press. The architectural showpiece is said to be inspired by the Tower of Winds in Athens. Thirty lofty Corinthian columns supporting the massive entablature gives it a classical Greek look.

The Imperial Library was inaugurated here by Lord Curzon in 1903 and later on it evolved to National Library and shifted to Belvedre. 

On the eastern side is a huge portico with wide stairs leading to the hall. The building has been renovated recently by the Archaeological Survey of India and is being prepared to use it as a museum, supplementing the Indian Museum at Chowringhee. When I visited some terracotta tablets and brick samples were exhibited but renovation was still going on in the interiors.

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