Discuss the architecture of the buildings in metropolitan cities of Madras, Bombay and Calcutta constructed by the English East India Company before 1857.

Published: May 1, 2016

Francis Day began the building of the fort St. George in 1640 in Madras. Another important building built at Madras during the reign of the British Government was the High Court building, which is in George town, which was the name given to the small town that arose near Fort St. George. It seems to have been built in the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture. It is the largest judicial building in the world after the courts buildings in London. St. Mary’s Church was built also at Madras in 1678-80, which is the oldest Church building constructed in India.
In Bombay, the Parsis built their first Tower of Silence in 1665. This tower was built to lay dead bodies within the tower to be picked clean by vultures as the Parsis do not cremate or bury their dead bodies. The High Court building in Bombay was completed in 1878. The statues of Justice and Mercy top the huge building. Later on the Hanging Gardens are situated on top of the Malabar Hill. They were laid out in 1881. Marine Drive was built in 1920 on land reclaimed from the sea. The Prince of Wales Museum building was completed in 1923. It is also built in the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture. St. John Church was built in 1847. It is dedicated to the soldiers who died in the Sind War of 1838 and the first Afghan war of 1843.
With respect to Calcutta, the foundations of Fort William were laid in 1758 and it was completed in 1781. The area cleared around the Fort became the Maidan, which served as the lungs of contemporary Calcutta. Indian Museum was built in 1875 and the Raj Bhavan, which is the old British Government House was constructed between 1799 and 1805 by Lord Wellesley. South of Dalhousie Square is the Church of St. John, which was built in 1787.
All the buildings erected during the British rule in these three metropolitan cities (barring a few) were built from a utilitarian point of view. They did not have an important place in the history of the architecture of India. Neither did they try to give impetus to the craftsmen who had created world-famous monuments like the Taj Mahal at Agra under Shah Jahan nor did they follow the latest developments in European architecture. They were constructed mostly by engineers employed by the British Government who, as E. B. Havell says, constructed official buildings by applying to these buildings their own dry as dust formularies culled from Macaulay’s bookshelf.

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