Former Government House and Park, Barrackpore, India
Situated near Kolkata at the heart of an historic cantonment, Barrackpore has a wealth on 19th century buildings, of which the former Government House in Barrackpore Park is the most important. After years of neglect, the main building and park are being revitalised.
Commenced as a weekend retreat by the Governor General Richard Wellesley in 1801, from 1813 it was developed by Captain Thomas Anbury for his successor Lord Hastings into a double-storeyed classical mansion with an impressive portico and colonnaded verandahs. Located near an enormous banyan tree, a beautiful parkland was laid out around it. With the relocation of the capital to Delhi in 1912, the importance of the estate waned. In 1947 it was adapted for use by the State Police Training Academy and the main building became the Police Hospital.
In 2017, under the enlightened guidance of Soumen Mitra, ADG Training Branch, and with funds from the West Bengal Heritage Commission, work began to restore the dilapidated main house. The result is a revelation. With the completion of the first phase, a permanent exhibition has been created in the former service area on the ground floor. This explores the history of the Park with an audio-visual room, an arms gallery and a lounge. Conservation of the northern and western sides of the building is now complete.
In the Park, many of the original outbuildings and features have been cleaned and restored including the the Moti Jheel, the Lady Hardinge Bridge, the Lady Canning Terrace, three gatehouses, the Lotus Fountain, the Minto Fountain, Bungalow #2 and the Honeymoon Lodge.
Interpretation installed throughout the Park allows visitors to walk in the footsteps of history. Two new books also document the rich biodiversity and the history of the Park: 'Woodland Pleasures: Biodiversity at the Barrackpore Park' and 'Under the Banyan Tree: The Forgotten Story of Barrackpore Park.