The architecture of Bengal, which comprises the modern country of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, has a long and rich history, blending indigenous elements with influences from different parts of the world. West Bengal’s architecture is an amalgamation of ancient urban architecture, religious architecture, rural vernacular architecture, colonial townhouses and country houses, and modern urban styles. The bungalow concept is a notable architectural export of Bengal. The corner towers of Bengali religious buildings were recreated in medieval Southeast Asia. Bengali curved roofs were replicated by the Mughals in North India.

1. St. John’s Church

St. John’s Church, originally a cathedral, was among the initial public buildings designed by the East India Company after Kolkata (Calcutta) became the effective capital of British India. The foundation stone was laid on 6 April 1784 by Warren Hastings, the Governor-General of India

Designed by architect James Agg, the St John’s church is built with a fusion of brick and stone and was commonly known as the “Pathure Girja” (Stone Church). The stones were brought from the medieval ruins of Gour and were shipped down the Hooghly River

The church is a large quadrangle structure in the Neoclassical architectural style. A stone spire 176 ft tall is its most distinctive feature. The spire holds a huge clock, which is wound every day.

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2. Jorasanko Thakurbari

Jorasanko Thakurbari was built by Tagore’s grandfather in the 18th century. It got its name from the two ‘Shankar’ or Shiva temples, called Jora Shankar, which can be found near the house. Jorasanko Thakurbari was transformed into a center for Indian Classical Fine Arts. It also has a splendid museum, known as the Rabindra Bharati Museum, that was established in 1961. The collection of Tagore’s creations makes this museum one of the most popular tourist attractions for people from India, and abroad.

The mansion is constructed in such a way that from the rounded verandah the house dwellers can watch programs in the Natya Mancha in the center of the house. 

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3. Rasmancha

The Rasmancha is a heritage building located at BishnupurBankura districtWest BengalIndia. It was authorized by Mallabhum king Hambir Malla Dev in 1600 CE. Length and breadth of this temple is 26.5 meter and the height is 14.5 meter. The altar of the temple is made of laterite stone and the upper part is made with bricks. The upper part of the building looks like a pyramid. The Middle part is inspired by Bengali huts and the arches of the lower part resemble Islamic architecture. During the Vaishnava Ras festival, all the Radha Krishna idols of Bishnupur town are brought here to be worshipped by the citizens. 

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4. General Post Office, Kolkata

The General Post Office, Kolkata, is the chief post office of the city of KolkataIndia. The General Post Office was built in 1864 by Walter B. Grenville (1819-1874), who acted as a consulting architect to the government of India from 1864 to 1868.

The staircase at the eastern side of the GPO highlights a brass plate, which marks the eastern end of the Old Fort William. Recently a marble plaque has been installed on the Eastern walls of GPO, which features the Brass Plate.

The GPO is remarkable for its imposing high domed roof (rising over 220 feet) and huge Ionic-Corinthian pillars. 

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5. Cooch Behar Rajbari

Idolized from the concept of the classical European style of Italian Renaissance, this magnificent palace was designed by the famous Koch king Maharaja Nripendra Narayan in 1888. Raised on a basement of 1.5 meters in height, this two-storied brick building covers an area of 4800 square meters. It extends 120 meters from north to south and 100 meters from east to west. 

A porch is projected in the center to provide the main entrance to the building through the Durbar Hall, which is dodecagonal in shape, resting on four arches supported by massive Corinthian pilasters and projecting a lantern at the top. The intrados of the dome is recessed in stepped patterns and flanked by a small balcony with twelve window openings at the base. 

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6. Metcalfe Hall

Metcalfe Hall is a heritage building located in Kolkata, India. The architecture is reflective of the British imperial architecture in the middle of the nineteenth century, and visually similar to ancient Greek temples. It was built between 1839-1844 according to the design prepared by the city magistrate, C.K. Robinson.

A porch is projected in the center to provide the main entrance to the building through the Durbar Hall, which is dodecagonal in shape, resting on four arches supported by massive Corinthian pilasters and projecting a lantern at the top. The intrados of the dome is recessed in stepped patterns and flanked by a small balcony with twelve window openings at the base. 

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7. The Writers’ Building

It is situated in West Bengal‘s capital city of Kolkata. The Writers’ Building is a 160-meter-long building, designed by Thomas Lyon in 1778 for the British East India Company. Writers’ acquired its Greco-Roman look, with the portico in the central bay and the red surface of exposed brick. The parapet was installed and the statues sculpted by William Fredric Woodington in 1883, that line the terrace, were installed. The giant pediment at the center is crowned with the statue of Minerva.

The building went under renovation in late 2012, in a project costing ₹2 billion. In March 2014, the project was stalled after conservation experts and the state Public Works Department found the plan submitted by an architect firm insufficient. The refurbishment efforts also involved the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).

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8. Char Bangla Temple

In this frame, you can see the famous Char-Bangla temple (4 temples). These four temples surrounding a small courtyard were built by Rani Bhavani of Natore. Each temple has 3-arched openings and 3 shiva lingas. Richly decorated facades illustrated the best in the ornamental brickwork of Bengal. The eastern temple is adorned with delicate plasterwork. The decorative themes which vary, are drawn mainly from the Hindu epics and Puranas.

 Interesting shadow patterns are created on this brick-built temple with marvelous terracotta art. 

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9. Hooghly Imambara

Hooghly Imambara is a Muslim congregation hall and mosque in HooghlyWest BengalIndia. The building is a double-storied structure, with a tall clock tower over the entrance gate. The mosque has intricate designs and texts from the Quran engraved on the wall. The interior of the mosque is ornamented with marbles, candles, and hanging lanterns. It is richly decorated. The floor has marble tiles in a chequered pattern. Beautiful Belgian glass chandeliers and lampshades hang from the ceiling. In an open yard to the East of the Imambara is a 3-foot high concrete table with a sundial. The original sundial is said to have been made of brass. Hooghly Imambara is the 80-foot tall twin towers above its main gate. Within each tower is a spiral staircase leading to the top, one is for men, the other for women. 

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10. Dakhil Darwaza

The architecture of the gate is inspired by the Afghan Architecture but the use of local techniques and materials is admirable. The main access gate is 4.5 meters wide and has a height of 10.35 meters. 

The gateway arch is projected in the shape of an iwan portal and has two massive twelve-sided towers on both sides. These towers also forming the corners of the rectangular-shaped gateway building give a massive grandeur to the gateway. However, the simple yet beautiful designs made of terracotta tiles & bricks are remarkable. The base levels have string moldings and the corner towers have inset fret-rings but the most important feature is certainly the vertical offsets created by projected terracotta bricks – something that gives a soothing effect to the building. Most of the surface of the gateway is covered with arched-window motifs with hanging features inside those. The segments are in some sense true examples of Islamic architecture which does not have any mix of Rajput or Indian Hindu architecture.

Dakhil Darwaza - Sheet1
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Author

Prachi Surana is a budding Architect, studying in the Final Year B. Arch at BNCA, Pune. She is a dreamer, believer, hard worker and believes in the power of the Good. Prachi spends her time reading, painting, travelling, writing and working on the Design Team for NASA, India.

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