Historical secrets locked under the ground of the General Post Office (GPO) premises may be unearthed over the next year as the city monument goes in for a revamp, restoration and possible archaeological investigations.
In a bid to restore the historic city monument, officials have sent a proposal to the central government for a Rs10-crore grant as the building turns 100 next April. Last year, an underground tunnel was discovered below the building. Experts had said this could lead to the docks or even an underground hall.
“The GPO is a prominent city landmark, so we have proposed a plan for its restoration,” said Humera Ahmed, chief postmaster general for Maharashtra and Goa. The proposal has, so far, not specified any break-up of funding.
Once the money comes in, GPO officials hope to put an archaeological team on the job to find out where the tunnel below the ground leads to, how old it is and what purpose it might have served.
“We can do this once the resources are raised,” said Abha Singh, director of postal services for the Mumbai region. “There is a lot of great history in this building.”
The GPO will put out an expression of interest for the building’s restoration once the money is sanctioned.
The building, situated near Chhatrapati Shivaji terminus, was completed in March 1913 after seven years. Built over an area of 1,20,000 square feet in the Indo-Saracenic style, construction costs totalled Rs 18.9 lakh at the time. The building was designed by British architect John Begg.
The GPO is also planning to create a space for a permanent display within the premises detailing a history of the post office, philately exhibits, the journey of a letter, and other things. They hope to have this ready by mid-June.
“It would be good for visitors to have a perception of the city through postage and philately,” said Ahmed.