The Shaheed Minar, formerly known as the Ochterlony Monument, is a monument in Kolkata that was erected in 1825 by Major-general Sir David Ochterlony, commander of the British East India Company, to commemorate both his successful defense of Delhi against the Marathas in 1804 and the victory of the East India Company’s armed forces over the Gurkhas in the Anglo-Nepalese War. The monument was constructed in his memory. It was designed by J.P. Parker and paid for from public funds.
In August 1969, it was rededicated to the memory of the martyrs of the Indian freedom movement and hence renamed the "Shahid Minar," which means "martyrs monument" in both Bengali and Hindi, by the then United Front Government in memory of the martyrs of the Indian independence movement. The present government has decided to illuminate the tower during evenings and allow visitors to the top. The last persons who went up there were former governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi and his family.
Commonly referred to as the Monument, the Shahid Minar is located at Esplanade in central Kolkata in the north east facet of the Maidan the tower is 48 m (157 ft) high. It has a foundation based on the Egyptian style. The column is a combination of styles with a classical fluted column, a Syrian upper portion and a Turkish dome. It has two balconies at the top. The top floor of the minar is accessible by a serpentile staircase, a total of 223 steps. It has a total of 218 steps until the top of the tower.
Shahid Minar Maidan:
The vast field to the south of Shaheed Minar, is known as the Shaheed Minar Maidan or the Brigade Ground. It has a history of holding political rallies and fairs. The first political meeting on the ground, was presided over by Rabindranath Tagore to condemn the killing of a youth in Hijli by the British in 1931. The central bus terminus of the city is around the monument.
In 1997, a tourist jumped off the lower balcony of the monument. Since then if one wished to climb the steps of the monument, he or she had to acquire police permission. They had to submit address proof and photo ID at the Lalbazar Police Headquarters, while tourist who are not from Calcutta had to submit documents from their hotel and foreigners had to submit a passport copy.
The monument offers a bird's eye view of the city, and is similar to the London Eye. So the government has planned to open the monument to the public, after the renovation work is completed. The renovation work was started in late 2011 and will be completed in two phases. The first phase is scheduled to be completed by June 15, 2012, and is told to cost about INR50 lakhs. It will also take in account illuminating the monument, both from inside and outside and also giving the monument a fresh coat of paint. While, in the second phase a temporary folding stage will be set up at the foot of the 48 meters tall monument, to avoid congestion at the Dorina Crossing, at time of rallies.
After the work is completed, the tourist cum the local people, both will have access to the top of the monument. Stalls selling, souvenirs (such as key rings, miniature replicas, postcards, etc. as seen in every tourist sites) will also be set up just in front of the monument, while the pathways leading to it will be cleaned and decorated with flowering plants.