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President of India inaugurated the underground Bunker Museum at Raj Bhavan, Mumbai

Mumbai:18/8/19:The President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind inaugurated the underground Bunker Museum at Raj Bhavan, Mumbai on Sunday, August 18, 2019.  Accompanied by Governor CH. Vidyasagar Rao, the President was shown around the exhibition and given an audio visual experience of the history of Raj Bhavan at a Virtual Reality booth in the museum.

Smt. Savita Kovind; Smt CH. Vinoda; Maharashtra Chief Minister Shri Devendra Fadnavis; Minister for Revenue and Public Works, Shri Chandrakant Patil and Minister for Higher and Technical Education Shri Vinod Tawde too were present on the occasion.

The thematic underground bunker museum spread over an area of 15,000 sq.ft. will be opened for the general public through prior online booking later during the year.

The Bunker Museum has Virtual Reality Booths in which visitors can time-travel to the 19th century, when the bunker was constructed to fire cannons at approaching enemy ships. History of Raj Bhavan has also been depicted in another section.

Backgrounder:

1. The Underground Bunker Museum

The underground British-era bunker was discovered by Governor CH. Vidyasagar Rao in August 2016. Having remained closed for nearly six decades, the bunker had suffered extensive wear and tear due to seepage from the overhead lawn.

As the bunker is part of the history and heritage of Raj Bhavan and also because a part of it lies below the ‘Jal Bhushan’ the office and residence of Governor, there was a need to conserve the bunker in a way that did not compromise the safety of the building and at the same time provided an opportunity to people to visit the historic site.

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After conducting the structural audit of the bunker, the structural strengthening of the bunker was carried out.   The works included water-proofing and grouting, electrification, air-conditioning and curation of the museum.

The bunker has 13 rooms of different sizes. It opens with a 20-ft tall majestic gate. Towards the entrance, the structure resembles a fort. When opened, the bunker had rooms bearing names such as Shell Store, Gun Shell, Cartridge Store, Shell Lift, Pump, Central Artillery Store, Workshop, etc. The entire underground bunker was found to have a proper drainage system and inlets for fresh air and light.

While taking up the Conservation works it was ensured that all the original features of the bunker are restored and also it is developed for adaptive reuse as a museum by incorporating virtual reality on the themes of Cannon-firing experience, history of Raj Bhavan and a glimpse of the forts of Maharashtra.

Dioramas of cannons and soldiers, optical illusions of a bunker of infinite length and cannons have also been created inside the museum

2. Jal Bhushan

Jal Bhushan, the office and residence of the Governor of Maharashtra has a history of nearly 200 years. The present building has undergone several modifications and renovations.

Jal Bhushan had been the official residence of the British Governors since 1885 when the ‘Government House’ shifted to the Malabar Point from Parel.

It has served as the residence of Indian Governors after Independence and that of Governors of Maharashtra from the year 1960 when the State came into being.  According to the history of the place, the edifice of ‘Jal Bhushan’ has evolved around the original ‘Pretty Cottage’ built by Governor Mountstuart Elphinstone around 1820.

Having completed its lifespan and pronounced structurally unsafe, the existing ‘Jal Bhushan’ building is set to be demolished and a New Jal Bhushan building is being built at the same site. The new building will retain many of the distinctive features of the existing heritage structure.

Apart from serving as the office and residence of the Governor, ‘Jal Bhushan’ also has a Conference Room, a Meeting Room, Library Room and offices of the ADC, Private Secretary and PRO to the Governor.

About Ashok Palit

Ashok Palit has completed his graduation from Upendranath College Soro, Balasore and post graduation from Utkal University in Odia Language and literture.. He has also carved out a niche for himself as a scribe of eminence after joining the profession in 1988. He is also an independent media production professional. He brings loads of experience to Advanced Media, Ashok Palit as a cineaste has been active in film criticism for over three decades. As a film society activist, he soared to eminence for his profound commitment to the art film appreciation and aesthetics of cinema. His mode of discourse is often erudite but always lucid and comprehensible marked by a perfect acumen so rare in the field. A film aesthete with an immense fond of critical sensibilities, he wrote about growth and development of odia cinema in New Indian Express, The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Asian Age and Screen. He has been working as an Editor for Cine Samaya from 2002-2004.. He had made solid contribution on cinema in many odia Dailies and weekly such as Samaj, Prajatantra, Dharatri, Samaya, Satabadi, and weekly Samaya.

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