Prince of Wales Visit Memorial - Captivating Calcutta
25-09-2018    118 times
Prince Wales Memorial

In the North-West corner of the Eastern Railway Headquarter, just at the crossing of Fairlie Place and Strand Road, stands a neglected and dilapidated structure as a dumb witness of the Colonial Calcutta. Probably it was constructed with the Indo-Saracenic ideas, complete with a circular arch with thorny pointed ends and complete with flowery relief decorations. Marked by the KMC as a Heritage Buildings, it was actually built as the 'Prince of Wales Visit Memorial'.

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Though it is neglected, shabby and battered, the memorial is undoubtedly a well built structure. On the front arch, there is an almost blurred plaque proclaiming that the structure was built at the initiative of Nawab Abdul Gunny, the first recognized Nawab of Dacca, and his son Nawab Ahsonollah Khan, to mark the visit of His Royal Highness Prince of Wales Albert Edward to Calcutta. It is to be noted here that Prince of Wales made an extensive eight-month tour of the subcontinent in October, 1875, along with his spouse and arrived in Calcutta in the month of December, 1875, just before the Christmas. It may also be noted that, after the demise of Queen Victoria he ascended the throne as Edward VII.

Prince of Wales Visit Memorial
Prince of Wales Visit Memorial

As it is mentioned earlier, Abdul Gunny was the first Nawab of Dhaka recognized by the British Empire. During the historical Sepoy Revolt of 1857, he unabashedly supported the British Raj and in return, he was decorated by the British with the Companion of Star of India in 1871, as a token of his loyaltyand ultimately vested with the hereditary title of Nawab during the visit of Prince of Wales in 1875.It was therefore natural for the loyal Nawab to build such a memorial on account of the Royal visit.

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Today, the memorial has become an eyesore and is used as a tea-stall. The makeshift shelter with cheap plastic sheets has almost obstructed the view of the structure. The neglected and distressed memorial needs immediate attention, otherwise a witness of history will be lost forever.

Tutorial at home
Tutorial at home

Surprisingly, the Prince of Wales Visit Memorial has a twin, at Esplanade. The more damaged, more dilapidated and the much distressed twin, almost covered with hoardings and banners, stands helplessly just on the left hand side of the entrance of the Tip Sultan Mosque.

Prince of Wales Visit Memorial
Prince of Wales Visit Memorial
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Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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