A Brief History of Alipore Observatory
The beginnings of meteorology in India can be traced to ancient times.Meteorology, as we perceive it now, may be said to have had its firm scientific foundation in the 17th century after the invention of the thermometer and the barometer and the formulation of laws governing the behavior of atmospheric gases. India is fortunate to have some of the oldest meteorological observatories of the world. The British East India Company established several such stations, for example, those at Calcutta in 1785. The first Director General of Observatories was Sir John Eliot who was appointed in May 1889 at Calcutta headquarters. The headquarters of IMD were later shifted to Shimla, then to Poona (now Pune) and finally to New Delhi. It is not commonly known that Rabindranath Tagore, who is often called the monsoon poet, had indeed written some of his poems at the Alipore Observatory in Kolkata, where he often lived as a guest of the meteorologist, Prasanta Chandra Mahalanobis in the years 1923 to 1926. Tagore had been encouraging Mahalanobis to pursue statistics, which he in fact did. The India Meteorological Department lost Mahalanobis as he left meteorology and went on to do pioneering and fundamental work in statistics and later established the Indian Statistical Institute at Kolkata in 1931. Mahalanobis had a close and lasting relationship with Tagore. For several years, he served as the General Secretary of Tagore’s ViswaBharati University at Shantiniketan. He and his wife, NirmalKumari, known affectionately as Rani Mahalanobis, regularly played hosts to Tagore at their official residence on the first floor of the Alipore Observatory building. Tagore had a room for himself, but he preferred the shade of the giant banyan tree that it overlooked, under which he sat and penned his literary masterpieces. It was in the fitness of things, that Rabindranath Tagore, the Monsoon Poet, drew his inspiration from clouds and rain in the campus of a meteorological observatory! Tagore’s room at Alipore has now been converted into a small museum which houses some of his memorabilia and the banyan tree continues to stand at the hallowed spot in homage to his memory.
Regional Meteorological Centre Kolkata
- Other Services:
- Establish Meteorological observatories.
- Analyse and interpret meteorological observations and issue forecasts.
- Scrutinise and process observational data for climatological archives.
- To take meteorological observations and to provide current and forecast meteorological information for optimum operation of weather-sensitive activities like agriculture, irrigation, shipping, aviation, offshore oil explorations, etc.
- To warn against severe weather phenomena like tropical cyclones, norwesters, duststorms, heavy rains and snow, cold and heat waves, etc., which cause destruction of life and property.
- To provide meteorological statistics required for agriculture, water resource management, industries, oil exploration and other nation-building activities.
- To conduct and promote research in meteorology and allied disciplines.
- To detect and locate earthquakes and to evaluate seismicity in different parts of the country for development projects.