HERITAGE BUILDINGS OF COLONIAL CALCUTA - Bidhan Sabha Bhawan
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HERITAGE BUILDINGS OF COLONIAL CALCUTA – Bidhan Sabha Bhawan

Bidhan Sabha - West Bengal Kolkata

From the inception, the sittings of the Legislative Council of Bengal were used to be held at Belvedere, Calcutta, the residential place of Lt. Governor of Bengal. The practice continued till 1920. However, with the enactment of the Government of India Act, 1919, the venue was shifted to Town Hall from 1st February, 1921 and the meetings were continued to be held in the said venue till 8th February, 1931, the completion of the construction of the Legislative Assembly building.

The construction of the building for the Legislative Council of Bengal was started on a plot of land measuring approximately 33 bighas. The chief architect of the project was J Greaves and the construction work was entrusted to Martin & Co. The foundation stone of the structure was laid on 9th July, 1928 by Sir Francis Stanley Jackson, the then Governor of Bengal. The construction completed in a rather short period of two years. The building was inaugurated on 9th February, 1931 by Sir Francis Stanley Jackson, the Governor of Bengal.

The architectural style of the building is a mixture of oriental and occidental influence. An aerial view of the building resembles the English letter ‘H’. Decorated with 18 Gothic columns on each of its East and West face, the structure is massive in size and takes a long time to circumnavigate on foot. According to Brian Paul Bach, the copper-plated dome at the center is more like the Shah Najaf Imambara in Lucknow.The grand portico on the south is currently used as the entrance to the building, by the legislative members, when the legislature is in session.

The main chamber where the actual sitting of the house takes place is a 19 m high, 91 m wide, 4300 square feet round shaped hall with an accommodation of 300 members. 8 marble pillars support the roof of the vestibule and from the dome above hangs a sea-green electrolier with concealed lighting. Apart from a separate enclosure for the speaker, there are galleries to accommodate the officials and the visitors.  All the furniture is built-in and teak-made. There is a long passage encircling the Chamber, which leads to the various office chambers and a lobby where the members relax when the legislature is not in session. The lobby has a rich collection of oil-paintings and portraits of eminent national leaders, freedom fighters, former Chief  Ministers and the Speakers. There are separate chambers for the Speaker, Chief Minister, other  Ministers, Leader of the Opposition and two Committee Rooms.

There are also three administrative buildings viz. North Annexe Building, South Annexe Building and the Golden Jubilee Building. Legislative Library, consisting of nearly 200,000 books covering a wide array of subjects, previously situated in the Legislative building, now housed in the Golden Jubilee building. The foundation stone of a new Millennium Building was laid by Jyoti Basu, former Chief Minister of West Bengal in 2001.

The Gate of Bidhan Sabha, Kolkata
The Gate of Bidhan Sabha, Kolkata
Canteen Area of Bidhan Sabha Kolkata
Canteen Area of Bidhan Sabha Kolkata
Dibyendu Banerjee
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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