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Electrical Telegraph Post and Optical Telegraph Tower
Electrical Telegraph Post and Optical Telegraph Tower

Introduction

From 15th July 2013 onwards the term “Post and Telegraph” service will cease to exist in India. Instead it will be only Postal Service. Starting from 1855, Electrical Telegraph service had a glorious period in India. Getting a Telegram was no ordinary incident. The service was used for sending urgent information and before the arrival of Trunk call in 1960; it was the fastest mode to send information over long distance.

But when Electrical Telegraph leaves the stage with its head held high, few will remember that India too had an Optical or Visual Telegraph line, which extended over 400 miles from Calcutta to Chunar. Some information is available in the old Gazetteers of early 20th century and few books. In this article I will try to assimilate such information and reconstruct the line of events involving the advent of Optical Telegraph in India.

The Mystery Towers

If you are driving from the heritage town of Bengal – Bishnupur to Kolkata via Kamarpukur through the Arambagh Kamarpukur road, just before Goghat Bakultala you might have noticed on your far left an old Brick circular tower of around 100 foot in the middle of nowhere. It is quite different from the Brick Kiln towers or Rice Mill Towers which falls on your way in this route. You may have also seen as many as three such towers while on train from Bishnupur to Purulia. More near to Kolkata, one such tower exists on the middle of a busy city road at Andul – Khatirbazar, Howrah.

Tower Near Goghat
Tower Near Goghat
Tower as seen from Train near Chhatna. Photo courtesy : Nishesh Singh
Tower as seen from Train near Chhatna. Photo courtesy : Nishesh Singh