Located at Esplanade Row East, the massive building of the former Foreign & Military Secretariat was built in the year 1909, when Calcutta was still the capital of the British India. Like many other heritage buildings of Colonial Calcutta, which were built around Dalhousie Square-Chowringhee area, this huge building still stands today, as a mute reminder to the fact that the British wanted to recreate Calcutta as a city much on the lines of their beloved London. The height of the building, the wide verandahs and recessed rooms with a large central courtyard are all improvised and tailor made, to make it suitable and comfortable for the British people so that it can it easier to adjust the hot and humid climatic conditions of the city.
Designed by the then PWD architect W Banks Gwyther, this neoclassical building was built during the rule of Lord Curzon, as the Viceroy of India. Originally, it housed the highly important Foreign and Military Secretariats. During those early days, it looked out into the vast green expanse of Curzon Park. Unfortunately, today Curzon Park has lost its old charm of greenery and has become a dirty depot for the trams and buses, due to the mindless and the unaesthetic planning of the concerned authority.
Calcutta had lost much of its glory, when on12th December 1911 it was announced that the capital of the British India was to be shifted from Calcutta to Delhi. Accordingly, various Imperial departments were decamped from Calcutta. However, even after independence, many important Central departments are still housed in this majestic building, which include Office of the Controller of Accounts, Central Accounts Office, Ministry of Mines, Government of India and Ordnance Factory Board, Ministry of Defense, Government of India.
It is interesting to note that, today the grand pediment of the gorgeous building is adorned with Ashok Stambh, the State symbol of India.