Bank of Bengal building, Simla - 1907

1907 Bank of Bengal building, Simla, H.P. Flickr

The Bank of Bengal building is yet another colonial structure in Simla, Himachal Pradesh and it was built by the Bank of Bengal in 1907 to take care of  banking needs of the hilly residents there and to accommodate its managerial staff.

Constructed  on the site of "Dalzell House", the building has close similarity with the  town library building;  it is a sort of mock-Tudor structure that invokes the rural English architecture that made the the homesick English residents reminisce about their English country side. 

The Imperial Bank of India took possession of the building in 1924 followed by the SBI - the State Bank of India. The SBI office still functions in the same old structure, a British legacy. 

Going back on the early days, this building housed the Bank of Upper India Ltd., that was established at Meerut in 1863. This bank took the credit of being the oldest and first Joint Stock bank in India and  somehow managed to survive  until 1913. When the bank failed  its assets and liabilities  were  transferred to the Alliance Bank of Simla which had many problems and finally folded up in 1924. The bank's assets were taken over by Imperial Bank of India. Bank Of Calcutta had been an old bank since 1806 and later became Bank Of Bengal. At that point of time, the other two old banks were  Bank of Bombay and the Bank of Madras. After India got her freedom from Britain in August 1947, the name of Imperial Bank of India, was changed to  the State Bank of India in 1955.


The Dalzell House was named after Captain  H. B. Dalzell. Earlier, it was occupied by the civil surgeon of Simla. It was in May 1907, the ownership of the property changed hands and the  the property was purchased by the Bank of Bengal for Rs.1,30,000.00. Soon  the old house was pulled down and in its place was built a new structure that saw the roller-coaster ride of many colonial banks before independence.