Look back & delve into history of Danapur Cantonment

Book, scheduled to hit stores next month, will throw light on how the military establishment came into being

By Shuchismita Chakraborty
  • Published 8.09.15

Do you know that Danapur Cantonment was earlier know as Bankipore Cantonment and it was shifted to its present place from the Bankipore area in 1967-68? 

How many of you know that Bankipore Cantonment is one among the oldest cantonments in the Indian subcontinent? Well, people can know many such interesting facts related to Bankipore Cantonment (presently called Danapur Cantonment) through the book Monograph: The Making of the First Cantonment of the Indian Subcontinent in Patna, which has been penned by 53-year-old Prabuddha Das, a resident of Patna. 

Das’s book, which would open many hidden truths about the Bankipore Cantonment, would hit bookstores next month. City-based Vigyapan would publish the book.

“There is a common notion among people that Barrackpore Cantonment, which came into being in 1772, happens to be the oldest cantonment in the country. However, this is not true. Bankipore Cantonment (which is now known as Danapur Cantonment) and Allahabad Cantonment happen to be the oldest cantonments in the country. After the reorganisation of the then Bengal Army, three cantonments were established in the country on August 5, 1765, including Munger Cantonment, Allahabad Cantonment and Bankipore Cantonment. While Munger Cantonment was dismantled after few years, the Allahabad Cantonment returned to its original place after shifting its base to Daudnagar and Sasaram. Among the three cantonments, only Bankipore cantonment did not shift its base to any other city. So, I consider it the oldest cantonment,” said Prabuddha. He said he had gathered evidence to prove it.

Barrackpore Cantonment is situated on the bank of the Hooghly river in Bengal. It came into being in 1772 and remained the symbolic seat of military power until the capital of British India was shifted from Calcutta to New Delhi.

Prabudhha said his book would cover how Bankipore Cantonment came into being and how it shifted to Danapur and was renamed Danapur Cantonment.

“The campus of Bankipore Cantonment started from the present day civil court campus. That time, it was known as Company Bagh and it was used as a godown by the army and later it was transformed into the headquarters. Then there was Old Barrack campus of the cantonment, which covered areas wherein today St Joseph’s Convent High School, BN College and Archaeological Survey of India office (Anta Ghat) are situated. In the Old Barrack campus, army personnel used to reside. Then there was New Barrack of the cantonment, which covered areas from SL Miser Petrol Pump to Gandhi Maidan police station. Here also, army people used to stay. In today’s Bakerganj locality, there used to be an army bazaar of the cantonment. It was a market for the army people from where they used to get necessary articles. The parade ground of the cantonment used to start from near today’s Christ Church Diocesan School to Bankipore Girls’ High School (along the Ganga). The parade related activities used to be organised on Parade Ground. Besides, Gandhi Maidan used to be a low-lying area. So, it was not included in the cantonment area,” he said.

Prabuddha said the first commandant of the cantonment, Robert Barker, used to stay on the Christ Church Diocesan School campus. Bakerganj was named after Robert Barker. Bakerganj was initially called Barkerganj but later people started calling it Bakerganj.