Friday, October 22, 2010

200 Year Old Tunnel unearthed in the premises of GPO, South Mumbai

Dear Comrades,

A tunnel thought to be 200 years old has been unearthed in the premises of the General Post Office in south Mumbai, officials said on Wednesday. Believed to be an ancient escape route, the tunnel heads towards Colaba in south Mumbai, said Maharashtra Postal Services Director Abha Singh.

"From whatever we have seen, it is a very well-maintained passageway, around 20 feet below the ground, full of mud in view of the ongoing monsoon," Singh told the sources.

Though it is not yet known when the tunnel was built, another tunnel found a few metres away was around 160 years old.

An official of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation confirmed that it was not an old or forgotten drainage line. "It is indeed a tunnel, and in surprisingly good condition too."

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is assessing the discovery.

"We at GPO are in an area which is deep in ancient history and heritage, and this is a treasure that must be preserved," Singh said. While declining to spell out plans, she felt the tunnel could be converted into a walk-in museum where people could go and soak in history.

Covered under a cement structure with a heavy iron lid and huge flowerpots placed on it, the tunnel was discovered a couple of days ago in the garden in front of the main GPO building. When the pots were shifted and the lid was opened, it revealed a rusted iron ladder leading below. Only one postal employee, Devji Waghela, gathered courage to take a torch and climb down.

"We shall first examine it in detail and only then we can make any comments about the historical significance. My officers shall make a preliminary assessment in the next couple of days," M.S. Chauhan, ASI's superintending archaeologist, told the sources.

The tunnel has become a subject of intense debate and speculation among experts, historians and officials. Some claim it could be from the Napoleon era and could have been an escape route for the British garrisons stationed here who feared an attack by the French Army. Napoleon was defeated in 1815 and the famous Bombay Fort was demolished by the British in 1862.

Singh said though the GPO building was built between 1904 and 1913, there were no records to show that engineers had come across the tunnel. "This is like a pre-centenary year (2013) gift for GPO... We shall treasure it forever," she said.

India Edunews.Net
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