5,000 sq feet British era bunker unearthed under Maharashtra Raj Bhavan
A forgotten 150-metre long, underground British-era bunker has been unearthed inside the sprawling Raj Bhavan complex at Malabar Hill in south Mumbai, an official said on Tuesday.
Governor C.V. Rao and his wife Vinodha and senior officials went around the bunker on Tuesday. Around three months ago, some old-timers informed the Governor of the existence of a tunnel inside the Raj Bhavan on the shores of the Arabian Sea. He asked to get it opened.
Accordingly, on August 12, the PWD staff broke open a temporary wall that had been erected at the tunnel’s entrance on the eastern side.
The revelation was suprising. Instead of what was believed to be an underground tunnel, it turned out to be a huge barrack with 13 rooms of varying sizes spread over an area of more than 5,000 square feet.
The bunker opens with a 20-feet tall gate and a ramp on the western side. There are long passages connecting small to medium room on both sides. The bunker’s rooms are named Shell Store, Gun Shell, Cartridge Store, Shell Lift, Pump and Workshop and there are scores of Lamp Recesses in the gangway.
Though the underground bunker had apparently been closed after India’s independence in 1947, it has remained surprisingly intact and has a drainage system with inlets for fresh air and light.
An aide to the Governor said that according to the book, “History of Raj Bhavans in Maharashtra”, it was formerly known as Government House and served as the residence of the British Governors since 1885 when Lord Reay converted it into a permanent residence.
Before that, while the Malabar Hill residence served as the Summer Residence of British Governors, the Government House at Parel was the Governor’s official residence. After the discovery of the Bunker, Rao has said he would consult experts to preserve it.
Maharashtra Raj Bhavan is built on lush green 50 acres of land at Malabar Hill, lashed by Arabian Sea on three sides. It has its own private beach and a mile long forest.
In October 2010, a huge and well-maintained tunnel believed to be over two centuries old was discovered in the premises of Mumbai GPO.