Great Trigonometrical Survey (GTS) was started in the early years of the nineteenth century by William Lambton, Infantry officer, surveyor and geographer as a project which was aimed to measure the Indian subcontinent.
A number of towers were built during the first half of the nineteenth century in different parts of India. Some semaphore towers were later used as GTS towers. GTS towers can still be seen in West Bengal and that too in Kolkata. One can come across Paikpara and Sukchar towers in Barrackpore Trunk Road, both maintained by Public Works Department, West Bengal. The towers are well maintained.
There are also a number of GTS towers spread across West Bengal. One such tower situated in the southern fringe of Kolkata in Thakurpukur Bakhrahat Road is Samalia Tower Station. It is located in a small village about a mile or so from Thakurpukur Bakhrahat Road in the mouza Nahazari; PS: Bishnupur and in Bishnupur I block of Alipore Sadar subdivision of South 24 Parganas district.
It is a three-storied rectangular tower of ‘Everest-type’ and may have been operational in the closing years of 1840s during the supeintendentship of Andrew Scott Waugh (1843-1861), Surveyor General of India, who succeeded Sir George Everest. The place in which the tower stands is full of bamboo trees and vegetation and a portion of the tower has collapsed probably during an earthquake; but a major portion of it still remains with arch heads. The bricks can still be seen. The area is locally known as Haldarpukur.
I visited this tower with my friends a couple of months back and it is rather dificult to locate it from the main road. I found that the locals call the tower by the name of ‘Bati Ghar’ (lighthouse). This tower finds mention in GTS Synopsis Volume XII, Page 19.
Surveying Empires – Archaeologies of the GTS in West Bengal.
Date of posting: 1st July, 2018.