Last month, YFLO Kolkata organised a unique event for its members and their kids called ‘Fort William —Be Historic, Be You’, taking them down the history lane of this heritage structure that dates back to the British India era and is used as the headquarters of the Eastern Command at present.
For over 80 members and their kids, the guided tour started from the Vijay Smarak gate or the Red Road gate, a war memorial built in 1996 to commemorate India’s victory in the Indo - Pak war of 1971 that led to the liberation of Bangladesh. After a brief talk on the organisation of the army and the fort, the members along with YFLO chairperson Shilpa Sethi laid a wreath and paid homage to the bravehearts who laid down their lives for the nation. The tour continued with the guides explaining about the fort layout and structure as members passed by the moat area and a tank used in the war.
The next stop was the Dalhousie Barracks, a four-storied building where troops lived back in time. Did you know it can accommodate 1,000 soldiers? In its ground floor is a cell where Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was imprisoned in December 1940 for three days before being placed under house arrest. The walk continued towards the Command Museum en routeSt. Peter’s Anglican Church. Constructed in 1784 in gothic style of Greek architecture with beautiful stained glass windows, it is designed to resemble the Chapel of Trinity Hall, Cambridge. This church has been converted into the Eastern Command Library now and houses around 35,000 books of which 64 books are extremely rare.
The Command Museum was established in 1956 and redesigned in 2010, and was earlier the fort’s ammunition dump. The YFLO group took a tour of the six galleries in the museum showcasing history of the Eastern Command, Liberation of Bangladesh, Sino-Indian 1962 Conflict, World War II, ongoing operations and Cultural Heritage of North East India and the Weapons Gallery displaying the arms used in World War II. A delish lunch was a perfect conclusion to a morning well spent.
“We have always been curious about what lies inside the Fort William and are grateful to the Eastern Command for letting us step inside their sanctuary to explore this heritage wonder. The highlight of the museum for us was to see the arms and the pulley-based ammunition replenishment system.I think our guides have had a tough time attending to the zillion questions the kids had for them but it is amazing to see the young ones so eager and genuinely interested in all that they’ve seen,” said Shilpa Sethi, chairperson, YFLO.
Radhika Bapna Todi, day chair for the event said: “Our members and their children had an invaluable learning experience and we encourage other organisations to also conduct this tour.”