Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Clive House, Dum Dum, Kolkata - where Clive helped found the British empire

Clive House, otherwise known as Barokothi is one of the oldest buildings of Kolkata and is believed to have been built before Kolkata was seized  by the Nawab of Bengal  Siraj-ud-Daulah who, in the later years,  became a victim of conceit and treason and was ultimately killed by his relative (at the instigation of the British; the plot was hatched by Clive) after the battle of Plassey (23 June 1757). Also known as Dumdum House, it is located at 91, Rastraguru Avenue, Dumdum (under South Dumdum Municipality). It   was standing on an artificial (?) mound surrounded by a moat.

Clive House, Kolkata The Victorian Web

According to the British civil servant Lewis O’Malley (1911), “the name Dum Dum is a corruption of Damdama, meaning a raised mound or battery. It appears to have first applied to an old house standing on a raised mound”. Though not in present form, the house seems to be in existence even before 1756 (Malloy  quotes R. C. Sterndale, writing in 1891).

There is some obscurity as to the origin of this oldest building. It could be presumably a Portuguese or Dutch factory or go down of cotton or salt peter or it is likely that this building of Mogul period was sometimes owned by Nawab Alivardi Khan and his grandson Siraj-ud-Daulah 


Robert Clive (1773).en.wikipedia.org/
and later on passed to the hands of Lord Clive who used it as his seat of power (1757-60).  Yet another contention optioned by some historians  was that a historical treaty between the Europeans and the Nawab of Bengal was signed in that very building. Further, it is believed to  have been a gift of Mir Jaffer (the man who betrayed the Nawab)  to Robert Clive. During the English company's hey day in the 18th century, it became a social  hub for the Europeans.


Side view, Clive House, Kolkata. commons.wikimedia.org
It was from this building Robert Clive used to clean his gun and the local people could hear the sound of  "dham dham" from testing of guns. Hence, this local area was referred to as Dum Dum which became an officially accepted suburb of Kolkata that has an international airport. 

Sometimes after the battle of Plassey, Lord Clive introduced some changes in his country house by strengthening it and building an upper floor. By doing so, the building's defensive character was lost. The house, a huge one with thick walls, was capable for good defense gainst anything but artillery from its elevated position”
Clive House, Kolkata. astoundingbengal.blogspot
 Above image: Clive House, Dum Dum, Kolkata: A dismal  plaque at the entrance of the distressed and godforsaken structure proclaims that Lord Clive did stay here and hence it acquired the name Clive House.................

In 1997, as part of 50th anniversary of India's independence from Britain, there was a proposal to restore the Clive House that was slowly decaying. However, it became a subject of debate and countless Indian leaders were of the view that India had more important priorities to address than restoring the house of a dishonest man Clive) who laid the basic foundation for the British empire that squandered India in every conceivable way for about 300 years to keep their economy in good nick.

Clive House, Kolkata, roof caved in long ago. astoundingbengal.blogspot.in/

Dilapidated Clive House Kolkata. NoiseBreak
Above image:  Clive House, one of the oldest residential buildings in Calcutta, as it was in existence even before 1756, is in ruins. Right under our nose, a fine historical monument, a dumb witness  to the glorious past stands obliterated. What a pity. After the battle of Plassey, Clive made it his country house and renovated it.............

In 2006, some restoration work of Clive house was on following the fall of the roof. The detailed study undertaken in 2001 and later years  by the ASI revealed the presence of some urban sites near the Dum Dum area long before Chief of East India Company Job Charnock founded the town of Calcutta (Kolkata). Artifacts - coins pottery, semiprecious stones, terracotta  figurines, etc  - from the excavations seem to belong to the Sunga-Kusana period and the survey concluded that a rich, advanced  and prosperous trading center was present way back in 8th century. Yet another discovery was  a seal with Nagari script - "Samapasasya" suggesting the use of a language in the 8th century.  It is a great  archaeological discovery that shows  there  existed  an ancient civilization in the place where  Kolkata now stands. According to “Bandhopadhyay  the findings are all set to revolutionize the history of South Bengal. They reveal remnants of a civilization over 2000 years old lived here. The Kolkata High Court ruling  a few years ago rejected that Job Chornock was not the founder of Kolkata as the town had been in existence before his arrival.

Tit-Bits: 


 01. Dum Dum has Calcutta’s (now Kolkata) international airport. The same place once produced   particularly a nasty form of bullet  in the local ordinance factory.  However this bullet was banned from warfare by a convention signed at The Hague in 1899).


02. The superb of Dum Dum had been in existence even before Job Charnock developed the early British settlements in 1790.


http://astoundingbengal.blogspot.in/2016/04/clive-house-barokothi.html

http://www.victorianweb.org/history/empire/india/75.html