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Fort William is symbolic of the British military power during the colonial era in India. Inarguably the most impressive edifice in Kolkata, the fort even now serves the same purpose of being a citadel of army- although its patronage has moved from British to Eastern India Army. It is now counted amongst some of Kolkata’s most popular tourist destinations.
The history of Fort William goes back to the days when the East India Company was beginning to establish their control over the region. There exists two Fort Williams, the oldest amongst them was built by Sir Charles Eyre who constructed the southeast bastion and the adjacent walls. John Beard, his successor added the northeast bastion around 1701 and in the following year established the Government House in the middle of the fort. Upon its completion in 1706, it was named after King William of England.
In 1756, the British decided to replace the existing fort which was rather vulnerable to invasions. This was achieved by first clearing out the village of Govindpur and laid the foundation in 1758 which took 23 years to complete in 1981. It took 2 million British pounds and has a capacity of 10,000 men along with a huge green expanse over a km wide stretching 3 km north to south.
The Fort is built in the shape of an irregular octagon surrounded by a fosse 9 meter deep and 15 meter broad which can be flooded in times of emergency. Water gate, Chowringhee, Plassey Calcutta, St Georges and Treasury comprises five of its six gates. A museum housing arms & ammunitions, swords, muskets and machine guns provide a treat for the visitors and history buffs. Photograph of the Bangladesh Liberation War and the Burma campaign are also on display. Recreation club, canteen, cinema hall, restaurant, swimming pool and wide moat are located nearby.