Friday, 17 March 2017

Awe-inspiring Mumbai GPO - biggest in South Asia

GPO building, Mumbai. CitySeeker
Mumbai GPO. GolGumbaz style interior. Alamy
Mumbai G.P.Ohttp://mumbaigpophilately.gov.in
 It is a known fact that after gaining  a firm grip on the Indian  subcontinent, the East India company formed three Presidencies for its administration purposes  to show its political muscle . On the west coast Bombay (Mumbai ) played a key role in its export operations. The Bombay Presidency, surprisingly comprised districts of Dharwad, Belgaum, Bijapur and North Canara which are now part of Karnataka. Inland and overseas communication became indispensable for effective administration and military operations, so, Imperial post offices in the respective Residences became a necessity.  The first IPO was in the Saint George Fort. then shifted to Apollo Pier and then to Flora Fountain and finally to the present location, which is also near the docks. The last location had several advantages and yet another positive note was railway track work was in progress mainly for the purpose of commercial exploitation and military movements. In 1902 British architect Begg was asked to design the GPO building. An interesting fact that emerges out from the design is Begg did not follow the routine Gothic style of architecture, instead he followed the Mogul type of design in tune with the native structures. The building became the first to be desig­ned in Indo-Saracenic style (Persian-Hindu-Gothic), but one could see the influence of  the iconic Gol Gumbaz of Bijapur dominated by domes with spires piercing into the sky. Victorian Gothic style of design is not observable here. This massive GPO building is considered  the biggest in South Asia and a sum of 1809,000.00 had been spent on the structure and the artisans were from the local areas. The design is such that it is well ventilated that allows good air circulation inside this massive building where countless people are working  and visiting this place. Never will you feel cramped up inside the building. The government of India has declared that it is a heritage building.

Mumbai GPO. interor Mid-Day
 Built on a plot of 120000 sq ft with compound wall around it, the building has a length of 523 feet. The mind-boggling part of massive building is 120 feet tall whooping dome with a diameter of 65 feet very much similar to Gol Gumbaz of Bijapur. The building, even now, does not require any major restoration or restructuring work and the reason is it is made of Bsaltic rocks  available in plenty locally, yellow stone from Malad and white stones from Gujarat. 
A marble board en.wikipedia.org

Amazingly, the Postal department here takes care of 40,000 customers daily and handles 60,000 unregistered mails, besides a huge volume of registered mails, speed posts, money orders, etc. This massive and strikingly beautiful  building is an important landmark in Mumbai. Can you imagine the entire history of the Deccan region, in fact, is closely interwoven with the postal history of Bombay Presidency? It is located in a serene place gently away from the  swaying of  palm trees and  from the madding crowd. You have to go past the massive  iron-wrought gates and you will be greeted by a massive old building with half-shaded corridors, spiral staircases and  beautiful stained glasses. 

 The good news is INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art, Culture and History) was retained by the postal department   to advise  on the restoration and maintenance of the monument building that needs to be preserved for the posterity.

 http://www.deccanherald.com/content/328903/mumbai-gpo-building-turns-100.html








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“It may not be having the acoustics wonder of Gol Gumbaz, but the Postal Department has decided to conserve the building. INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art, Culture and History) was engaged as consultant to advise us on the restoration and maintenance of the monument building. And we are awaiting for the final clearance,” Madhale said.

Talking of the present times, Madhale said: “Postal services have undergone a change no doubt, but on any given working day that spans 16 hours in Mumbai GPO, you will find at the end of the shifts that on an average we serve 40,000 customers. People have a lot of misconception that the postal work has gone down... every day we handle 60,000 unregi­stered mail and this does not include volumes of money orders, speed post articles and parcels and most of the parcels belong to foreign tourists. And all this is done in this building.”