High Court, Kolkata, St.Paul Church, Pune and Sri Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai - colonial architecture replicated from other European styles

 Among the dynasties that ruled India in the past centuries at different periods, it is the British rule that covered almost the entire subcontinent, is marked out for good reasons: their reign in this tropical country lasted more than 250 years. The beneficiary was primarily the British who generated vast and unthinkable revenue from the land endowed with rich natural resources. But during the long reign,  natives were economically exploited, oppressed and racially discriminated. Though India got the freedom in 1947 after prolonged struggle marked by violence and massacre by the British India army, their dominance in every sector, tea to textiles, railways to banking, etc., was so much the incredible impact they left behind can not be ignored and will be ever lingering in the mind of the natives.

With a view to showcasing their supremacy in the new nation they built public buildings in their own native styles, either English or European. The arrival of Europeans to India added a new chapter in the nomenclature of  architecture and  further enriched the traditional design styles  of our country. The result was the birth of  synthesis of  indigenous architectural traditions  with various European architectural styles. It meant the mindset to establish  superiority by the colonial rulers  slowly changed to a pointing of accepting and acknowledging the unique, improvised and practical ‘Indian way of design in unison with nature. 

 In the later years British architects  understood the rich native architectural designs relevant to the geography and started adopting them  with flourish along with varied European designs. In this respect, British architects Robert Chisholm and  Henry  Irwin were pioneers and trailblazers. 

Focussing on the European style buildings in India that were built by the British, if you get the impression that they are primarily English in style, you are wrong. They partly duplicated designs for the public buildings, places of worship,etc., of course, from the west and not necessarily adopting English design features. 

English design styles:

The following  early colonial buildings in India were predominantly built in English design styles

 Steeple,St. Mary's Anglican Church,
Chennai,  upload.wikimedia.org

 St. Mary's Anglican Church,1905 image, Chennai upload.wikimedia.org

St. Mary's Church, an  Anglican church consecrated in 1680 in Fort St George, Chennai, Tamil Nadu  is the oldest British building in India   East of  the Suez  Canal.  Popularly, it was  known as the Westminster Abbey of the East. Robert Clive got married here. This earliest church is known for its bomb proof roof in case of wars

Non-functional St. Peter's Church,Ft.William, Kolkata.en.wikimedia.org

Fort William Garrison Church Kolkata,1866,wikipedia.

Above image:  Garrison Church, Ft. William, Kolkata: One of the earliest churches in Kolkata,  Ft. William was built by the East India company for mercantile trade activities, storage, etc. Old Ft. William was demolished after the war at Plassey and a new fort was built by Robert Clive in 1773 (cost 2 million pounds) and on the premises came up St. Peter Church in 1828 in English style, but was not operational and converted into library for the troops of Eastern Command. ..........

 One of the best examples of  British colonial architecture in Calcutta (Kolkata), the then capital of British India  is the popular Victoria Memorial (now converted into a museum). A stunning marble edify it came up in memory of  Queen Victoria after her death in 1901. The man primarily responsible for this massive building was none other than Lord Curzon.

The Rajabai Clock tower, Mumbai. blogs.ubc.ca

Above image: One of the earliest Victorian buildings in Bombay (Mumbai) metropolis, the Rajabai Clock tower (soaring to a height of 280ft, the tallest structure then) embodies the impressive symbol of the British Raj and the  Crown’s reign  over the native inhabitants. Within the landscape it served no purpose except serving as a clock tower showing time.  The image shows the clock tower and  the attached University Library, 1869-78.  Shown in the foreground is the Bombay University Convocation Hall, 1869-74. Sir Gilbert Scott  who designed them incorporated using various gothic elements and  to project the Victorian image and  looming imperialistic ambition and domination.  

Quite visible are  other influences of European architecture in many early Indian  cities, but the dominance of British architectural style is very much in cities like Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Agra, Delhi, Hyderabad, Nagpur and Bhopal. Though aged many  landmark English structures have survived till today and the governments both state and central are taking action to retain their old splendor as they stand as the bygone  legacy of both early and later colonial era.    

The following colonial  buildings show the influence of styles other than British, presumably  to showcase their superior design style: 

Calcutta High Court, Calcutta(Kolkata):  

This one of the earliest colonial structure is  almost a replica  of the cloth market in Ypres, Belgium.

Ypres Cloth hall, Belgium. en.wikipedia.org

The Cloth Hall in Ypres, Belgium is one of the  largest medieval commercial buildings,  serving as the main market and warehouse for the Flemish city's prosperous cloth industry.   The original structure, erected mainly in the 13th century and completed 1304, lay in ruins after artillery fire devastated Ypres in World War I. Between 1933 and 1967, the hall was meticulously reconstructed to its prewar condition, under the guidance of architects J. Coomans and P. A. Pauwels, thus recapturing the old splendor and majesty..... 

Kolkata High Court, WB. en.wikipedia.org

Kolkata High Court, WB. en.wikipedia.org

Above image: The Calcutta High Court - Located at Esplanade Row West, Kolkata, West Bengal it is the oldest High Court in India. It is Located at Esplanade Row West, Kolkata, West Bengal. The High Court building's design is somewhat based on the Cloth Hall, Ypres, in Belgium. The neo-Gothic High Court building  constructed in 1872, ten years after the establishment of the court itself was designed by the  then government architect Walter Granville.

It has red brick facing with stucco dressings, above an "elegant vaulted cloister of Barakur sandstone with capitals of Caen stone. When the huge cloth hall building was severely damaged in WWI, the Mayor of Ypres asked for the plans of Calcutta High Court to help reconstruct it. As it happened, the Gothic Revival failed to catch on in Calcutta and, but in the case of Mumbai (Bombay) the Indian as well as the British residents felt that the major city had become a Gothic outpost of Empire. 


St paul  church, Pune:

St. Paul church, Pune, Alamy.com

After several years of wait, the government (Bombay Presidency) gave permission for a second church in Pune, MH to meet the increasing demand for the church services. It was  on 29th August 1863, the foundation stone of St. Paul's Church was laid by the Governor  and later the work was completed at the cost Rs.90000  by the middle of February 1867 and the consecration took place on 5th of March 1867. 

The architect of the old church was Rev. F. Gell.who designed it following the English style of design in Gothic with a high pitched roof of corrugated Iron sheets. At that point of time most of the churches in Europe followed Gothic architecture with occasional incorporation of other styles. Length of the Church is 95 1/2 feet.

Sainte-Chapelle de Vincennes,, Paris enwikipedia.org

Above image: The Sainte-Chapelle de Vincennes, a Gothic royal chapel within the fortifications of the Château de Vincennes on the east edge of Paris, France is a royal chapel. Work  began in 1379 by Charles V of France to house relics of the Passion of Christ. Not a functional church it is now a French historical monument run by the Centre des monuments nationaux because its most celebrated feature is the incredible 13th-century stained-glass windows, among the finest in the world. An opulent place of worship with more than 1113 Biblical scenes adorn the 15 meter high ceiling and the hall casts a spell filled with fascinating light emanating through the windows...... 

St Paul church of Pune, MH is a  fabled version of St. Chapelle in Paris with cobblestone exterior.




Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Mumbai:

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Mumbai  flamingodiaries.com

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Mumbai flamingodiaries.com

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Victoria terminus, Mumbai  -

Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (Victoria terminus), Mumbai whc.unesco.org

Above image: The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, formerly known as Victoria Terminus Station, in Mumbai, is a classic  example of Victorian Gothic Revival architecture in India and hence the city is called Gothic city. It was designed by  the British architect F. W. Stevens.  The terminal was built over a period of 10 years starting in 1878 and what is special about it is the design is blended with themes deriving from Indian traditional architecture. The High Victorian Gothic design is based on late medieval Italian models with  remarkable stone dome, turrets, pointed arches and eccentric ground plan. The  British architects worked with Indian craftsmen to include Indian architectural tradition and norms thus forging a new style unique to Bombay.  The intricate carvings are made in local yellow malad stones blended with Italian marble and polished granite in a few places. The architectural detailing is brought out  through white limestone. The doors and windows are made of Burma teak wood with some steel windows mounted in the drum of the octagonal ribbed masonry dome with the coats of arms and corresponding paintings in stained glass panels.  The facade has fascinating features - gargoyles, allegorical grotesques carrying standards and battle-axes, and figures of relief busts representing the different castes and communities of India. In 1997, it was declared as Heritage Grade I structure. It is modelled after St Pancras railway station, London designed by William Henry Barlow

St Pancras railway station, London: 

St Pancras railway station,London melbourneblogger.blogspot.com

Above image: St Pancras railway station  is a central London railway terminus on Euston Road in the London Borough of Camden.  The station was designed by William Henry Barlow and constructed with a single-span iron roof. Following the station's opening on 1 October 1868, the MR constructed the Midland Grand Hotel on the station's façade, which has been widely praised for its architecture and is now a Grade I listed building along with the rest of the station. 

The Victorian neo-gothic station was designed and built in two parts; the train building and the hotel frontage. Midland’s consultant engineer, William Henry Barlow, designed the extension route and station layout, including the single span arched train shed built from iron and glass.