Do you remember reading about Mangal Pandey and his mutiny that led to the uprising that ended East India Company? The revolution of 1857 defined India’s fate in many ways. The violence showed the increasing discontent amongst Indians and the British government took direct control of India, dissolving East India company. In the history of India’s freedom movement, this rebellion is considered to be the earliest struggle that inspired freedom fighters throughout the country. And it all began in the oldest cantonment of India, Barrackpore in Kolkata, West Bengal.

As per folktales, this town was known as Chanak and Barbuckpur before the British built their first cantonment in India here. The first British barrack or cantonment in India was built here in 1772, providing the town with its name. Barrackpore was not only the administrative and military base during the British Raj, it was also a prominent retreat for British officials. And what a perfect vacation place it would have made! The old colonial and gothic style bungalows with sprawling gardens on the banks of river Hooghly and the serene river view must have made them feel close to England.

Our Barrackpore Trip guide comes as recommended by locals and we were able to see quite a few places with restricted access because of prior permission. While the old British cantonment is still occupied mostly by the Indian Army, the main administrative buildings are the current regiment’s office. However, the other part of the cantonment which is located on the bank of river Hooghly and can be reached by Riverside road and Park road is open to everyone. Our Barrackpore Trip guide will help you spend a day in Barrackpore and soak in its rich history.

Gandhi Ghat

Gandhi Ghat Barrackpore

This ghat has a memorial and is enshrined with a part of Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes. There is a mural inside depicting his important work and is very detailed. The sunrise and sunset view at this ghat with the serene river flowing by is magnificent.

Annapurna Temple

Annapurna Temple

This beautiful temple was inaugurated by Shri Ramkrishna Paramhansa in 1875 and the architecture is inspired by Dakhineswar temple, built by Rani Rashmoni. The Annapurna temple, also known as Rani Rashmoni temple locally, was commissioned by Rani Rashmoni’s youngest daughter, Jagadamba Devi. As per local belief, Jagadamba dreamt of Ramkrishna asking her not to build a grander temple than her mother. And so Annapurna temple has only six Shiv temples as compared to twelve in Dakhineshwar.

Rani Rahmoni Ghat

This temple is also believed to have been in a legal tussle with British administration over the lion statue at the entrance. Like Rani’s previous clashes with British regarding tax imposed on poor fishermen and stopping religious procession, the courts again ruled in favor of her family. The locals say that this was also to avoid public opposition and rioting in her family’s support.

The temple is next to Rani Rashmoni ghat and the view of the river with humble fishing boats against the backdrop of Serampore’s industrial belt is gorgeous.

Lalkuthi Fire Station (Old Building)

Lalkuthi Fire Station

This ruined building with its expansive ground is mostly abandoned other than the local boys practicing cricket here every day. The local boys told us that this was once the zamindari house of Rani Rashmoni and her family in Barrackpore.

Barrackpore old building

This also served as a fire station base for some time before being abandoned. How easy is it to imagine this fascinating house being the lavish abode of bygone Bengali royalty!

Barrackpore Government High School

Barrackpore Government School

The school was established in 1837 by George Eden, the Earl of Auckland while he was the Governor General of India. The school was started to educate Bengali boys from impoverished local families and was run out of governor’s own money. He arranged for a stipend for senior students to teach their juniors. He also hired the best teachers from Calcutta and around to ensure that the students receive the finest education.

Barrackpore Government School

Another exceptionally progressive thought that this school was based on was that there was no room for the caste system in here and every student was treated equally. The old buildings are still in use as the headmaster’s office and primary classes.

Barrackpore Government School

We were given the school tour by an alumnus who passed out in 1964. It was enlightening to see him interact with the current students and was touching when the students found his class photo to show us.

St Bartholomew’s Cathedral (Garrison Church)

Bartholomew Church

This Gothic-inspired church was earlier known as Garrison church. Built in 1831, this church was a place of solace and worship for the British officials and their families.

Mangal Pandey Park

Mangal Pandey Park

This park is dedicated to the earliest national hero, Mangal Pandey who raised his voice against Britishers leading to Sepoy Mutiny in 1857. It also has a children’s park and is frequented by locals. You can also take a boat ride through Ganga from here.

The Oldest Cantonment

barrackpore old buildingA walk down the Riverside road and Park road in the cantonment will give you a nostalgic trip through many British bungalows and houses. While some have been maintained and are offices and mess now, many are in complete ruins.

barrackpore old buildingThe view of Hoogly river from the gardens of these bungalows are mesmerizing. They don’t fail to make you wonder how lovely this whole place would have been at that time with no urbanization at all. hooghly river

The other side of the river is Srerampore which also has many heritage buildings and that trip is for another time.

Gandhi Museum

gandhi mural

This museum is located on the riverside road and has a vast collection of books and letters written by Mahatma Gandhi. There are also a lot of photographs that are related to the life events of the Mahatma. The museum also houses a library which is open to the public.

The old Kothi of East India Company

old kothi of east india company

An old bungalow owned by the East India Company and in ruins today. This kothi is believed to be haunted. Locals prefer not to pass this house after sunset as strange sounds have been heard here.

Sadar Bazaar

Sadar Bazar

The old cantonment bazaar is another interesting place to see the old buildings and new ones coexisting. An old cemetery close to this bazaar has graves dating back to the time of British Raj.

There are many forgotten buildings in the cantonment and we do wish to explore more the next time. Would you like to visit this city someday?

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BARRACKPORE trip guide

52 COMMENTS

  1. Very interesting spots in here 🙂 beautiful shots and tips. India is a place I hope to visit soon but it’s so far from Italy. I’ll learn something thanks to your article

  2. Such an insightful post into the history between the British and India here and you really know your stuff about it. I’m sure just walking around and exploring the ruins you could really feel the history around you, I could get sense of it just from your pictures. 😀

  3. This looks like something my family and I would enjoy. A trip with so much history, love that architecture. Thank you for sharing this post, I have to let my kids read this so they can learn.

  4. Nice to see this post which highlights one of the earliest chapters of India’s independence struggle. The places evoke a certain poignancy which is natural considering their history. The fire station building looks lovely but so sad to see it abandoned. Is the Government doing anything to preserve it as part of the heritage of the country?

    • I agree. While it felt like an adventure, unraveling the history of the town, I did have that underlying sense of sadness. Most of these old buildings have been declared as heritage sites by the Government and there is work going on to restore them.

  5. I thought the title was backpacking trip guide, caught me aback. Just kidding 🙂

    I am mostly interested with the Annapurna Temple and that old firestation building. I love seeing unique architecture pieces and these two sold me instantly.

    Additionally, that tragic uprising introduction brought the most meaninh to this post. I like your writing style – not too technical yet very informative.

  6. I love history so this post was right up my alley, it’s fascinating to me the years that led up to present day and how we used to live. A little part of me wants to see the old bungalow that is rumoured to be haunted!

  7. What a thorough guide to Barrackpore. I had not heard of the town and I find it refreshing to learn about other places in India worth exploring, a little more off the beaten path. And with the historical context you provide, I am more curious to explore it the day I get to visit India.

  8. What beautiful pictures. I would love to visit India one day. I really love the overlay you have on your photos! It almost takes you from modern to historic in one swoop!

  9. What a beautiful guide to a gorgeous place full of history and culture! Thank you for sharing- this makes planning my own trip much less intimidating.

  10. I always wanted to travel India. Some of the sights have been documented as extremely beautiful. The locations you suggested seem very interesting and your photos are great. Is the long drive due to heavy traffic? Usually, that distance does not take that long of a drive?

  11. Interesting choice for a vacation. Barrackpore is not really a place one would associate with a vacation. That said, I admire your perseverance and diligence a very important piece of our country’s history. It is sad that so many historically important buildings lie abandoned and in ruins.

    • I was visiting family in Barrackpore and realized there is so much that is yet to be explored in Barrackpore. Thanks for your kind words Denny and I agree that our important heritage needs to be preserved.

  12. You see, this is one of the issues I have with trying to plan a trip to India, there’s just so many incredible places to go, it makes it’s hard to choose! But this feels like such an interesting area with beautiful architecture, so I think I’ll need to put it on my list!

    • I totally agree that India is amazing. I think even a couple of months is not enough to cover a part of the country. Building a list is a great way to prioritize as per your travel style.

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