The British in India had an expansionist ambition to spread their rule throughout the country. One of the examples of this ambition is Fort Williams. Fort Williams played a very important role in establishing a strong hold over the then Calcutta. It spreads across 70.9 hectares along the eastern banks of the Hooghly River. The Fort was used for various purposes, each of this were a stark contrast to the other. It served as an administrative block for a very long time before it was taken over by the Indian army and is under them till date. It was named after King William III of England and Ireland.
The Fort played a very important role in history which for most part was sad and dark. There are two Fort Williams, one old and the other new. The first fort was built in the year 1696 by the British East India Company. The original building had two stories and projecting wings. It kept expanding over the years as it kept changing hands and by 1706 its construction finally ended. During the Battle of Plassey in the year 1756, Siraj Ud Daulah (Nawab of Bengal) attacked the fort and took control of it. He kept the captured British Soldiers in a cramped small dungeon in Fort Williams overnight. By the time the doors were opened the next day, most of these prisoners were found dead due to suffocation and exhaustion. Thus, earning the place the name “Black Hole” and the incidence as “The Black Hole Tragedy”.
Once the British recaptured the fort from the Nawab, they decided to build a new Fort in the Maidan. This step was initiated by Robert Clive in 1758. The new fort was completed in the year 1781. The fort is in an unsymmetrical octagon shape, built to defend against a cannon fir and resembles a star shape. The old Fort Williams serves as a Customs house since 1766. Today the Eastern Command of the Indian Army has it’s headquarter here. It accommodates about 10000 army personal. The Fort is a mini city in itself. It consists of all the amenities needed in a city life such as cinema, church, swimming pool, hospital, sports stadium and much more. Being an important point with regards to Indian Intelligence, only the army personnel’s and their family are allowed access into its premises. However it is worth visiting for its admirable structure and construction.