Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Patna's colonial GPO building - its foudation was laid by Lord Hardinge


Patna GPO hindustantimes.com
The colonial building in Patna, Bihar  houses  the General Post Office,  commonly known as the Patna GPO) and also the office of the Chief Postmaster General for Bihar CircleIn 2017, the post office celebrated its centenary.  Completed in 1917 after 5 years, the building was opened to public in 1917 and was then known as Post and Telegraph Office. Patna GPO is in Beer Chand Patel Path locality and is close to the Patna railway junction. Located on the intersection of Buddh Marg and New Market Station Road, it was designed by New Zealand-born architect Joseph Fearis Munnings, the man who designed the secretariat building, Patna.
The building was part of the New Patna capital area  that British established in 1912 after the division of Bihar and Orissa from Bengal Presidency.
Post and Telegraph Office, Patna (1916)en.wikipedia.org/
 It  was at the Delhi Durbar of 191, the greatest show of pomp and glory on earth,  King George V officially announced the creation of a new province of Bihar and Orissa  carved out of Bengal Presidency under a lieutenant-governor. The Raj decided to make Patna the capital of the new province and consequently there arose the necessity to have  new buildings to house  government offices such as the Patna Secretariat, Raj Bhavan (Bihar), Patna University campus, Patna High Court, Post and Telegraph Office. The project was entrusted to Munnings, Consulting Architect to the Government of Bihar and Orissa in the year 1912. The work included planning and development of New Patna.  Lord Hardinge laid the stone of new buildings in Patna on 1 December 1912. The construction of the building  began in 1912 and was completed in 1917. The cost of construction  was around Rs 2.69 lakh.  It was opened for the public on 1 July 1917 with 17 employees in total and was built over an area of 22 acres. 
According to Anil Kuman, Postal officer,''In 1774, Patna had come out with a copper ticket with a face value of one anna and half anna. “Copper tickets are now rare and available barely at four or five locations in the world, including the National Museum, New Delhi, Postal Museum, London, and in a private collection of a Jabalpur resident,”
Patna GPO, Bihar, India .india.com/
It is to be noted that this was not the first PO in Patna and the first post office as per  official records of Patna was near Anisabad area;  later  it was shifted to near-by area Bankipore,  Upon the opening of the GPO building, the Bankipore post office moved over to Muradabad area on Ashok Rajpath. The very first post office of the province of Bihar and Orissa was opened near Hazaribagh - now part of the state of Jharkhand.

The  P &T office building was built in  Gothic Revival architectural style using local construction materials and following simple and plain design. The Raj, at that point of time, had financial constraints due to WWI going on then and Britain was very much in the war and needed money for the war fronts. Hence the design was as much simple as it could be.  Following  Mogul style, the structure made of brick has flat roof  featuring Chhajja and an arcade. There are three  porticoes in the old structure - north, south and east; east portico forming the main  entrance. The western flank was added later. There are seven rooms and four halls with counter areas on the ground floor. Whereas the first floor has  14 huge  halls. The chief postmaster's office is now located in the central portion, while the deputy postmaster's office is located underneath it. The built-up area is around 2.5 lakh sq ft and there around 300 employees in the recent past. There are separate areas for postmen, mail, delivery, parcel, etc. A unique feature is there are separate counters for senior citizens and students in the northern side of the building. The building underwent renovation in 2000 at the cost Rs 1.25 crore, which saw five gardens, including one having medicinal herbs, being added to its landscape.

As of 2017, it is mentioned, that GPO, Patna delivers 100,000 letters and parcels daily through 96 postmen. It also has more than 1.2 million  savings accounts from public.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Post_Office,_Patna
 https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/patna-gpo-completes-100-years-special-stamp-likely/story ds0YWFzZcYNxCPfIJORGxN.html