Dominating the green expanse of Race Course located at 246, Acharya Jagdish Chandra Bose Road, Alipore, is a majestic monument of the British Raj. The present HQ Bengal Area building and earlier known as Military General Hospital, was conceived and planned as a military general hospital for Fort William as part of the overall Master Plan undertaken by Lord Clive for the construction of Fort William in 1757. It was constructed in the 18th Century. However, its vintage remains shrouded in mystery, buried somewhere in the archives. The existence of the building on the basis of available old records could be established as far back as 1787.
The two-storied building, designed with elegance has arcaded apartments with a verandah on each floor 140 feet in length. A number of majestic arches lend grandeur and blend with architectural designs of the time. A number of historical events have taken place in this building. There is a mention of a grand reception held in this building in felicitating the Governor General Lord Wellesley, on his return to the presidency after his victory over the ruler of Mysore, Tipu Sultan. Governor General Lord Bentick, a skillful administrator and a man of vision, requisitioned the vacant premises of the new Military General Hospital in 1833 for housing the Suddur Nizamat Adalat for which modifications to the building were carried out.
The Adalat started functioning from this building from May 1833 till it was amalgamated with the newly instituted high court in 1862. The high court functioned from this building upto 1870 when it shifted to its present state. The building was restored to its original purpose, and the great Military Hospital started functioning from here till it was shifted to the newly constructed command hospital in the year 1972. This building, a mute witness to the rise and fall of the British Raj, became Headquarters Calcutta Sub Area in 1974. Having been neglected and forgotten, on the verge of total collapse, the building was restored to its pristine glory between 1987-89.
On disbandment of HQ Calcutta Sub Area on May 31, 1995, the building once again underwent suitable renovation and modification after which HQ Bengal Area then moved from Fort William and started functioning from this building from September 18, 1995. — The author, Gp Capt Tarun Singha VSM, is the Defence PRO at Kolkata