Chennai's GPO heritage building - it is time to get it conserved soon!

GPO, Chennai, main tower without a cap.

General Post office building, Chennai.

The GPO building  built in 1884 about 100 meters from the old Harbor police station (Please refer to my previous  post) building  is also a heritage  structure   awaiting renovation and conservation. Built in Indo Saracenic style this 137 old structure in 2011  had a freak fire accident  in which a part of the building was damaged. Since then because of official apathy and lack of interest the building has suffered a lot, slowly losing its splendor and strength partly due to poor upkeep and  severe   monsoon rains; in the last decade or so.  In 2011 portions of the  Kerala-styled roof  specifically designed by architect Chisholm caved in and also the minaret . This 3-story structure covers  a large space -whooping 66000 sq. feet.  The Chennai Metropolitan city authority classified this building as a grade I  heritage  structure.  Yet  the postal depart failed to take steps to get the old structure  conserved for the posterity.  The postal department is functioning on the left side of the building which is not damaged. According to an article published in ''The Hindu'' dated 28 June 2018 the Postal department approached the ASI -Archaeological Survey of India for conservation and estimate on the major works. 

The amount of Rs. 15 lakhs allotted by the postal department for the work, it seems, is insufficient for the conservation work. Of the 568 post offices in the Chennai City Region, nearly 460  are operating  from rented premises. The Postal dept. has a proposal to buy some buildings to house the PO.

British architect pioneer in Indo-Saracenic style. Robert

The GPO building with caps on the towers.

General Post office building, Chennai.

Above image; The general Post office building on Rajaji salai, Chennai. The above image shows the loss of both caps on the main towers that stood tall 125 feet from the ground. Robert Fellowes Chisholm (11 January 1840 – 28 May 1915) a fine British architect  and a pioneer in  the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture in Madras introduced these caps atop the tower after his visit to Kerala where slanting roof is a common feature among the temples and other structure. Besides being impressive such slanting roofs do not let the rain water falling on the roof affect the wall.  Presidency College, Madras (1865) .  the Nilgiri Library in Ootacamund (completed in 1869), his first work on Indo-Saracenic style -  Chepauk Palace complex, Chennai (1871),Napier Museum Trivandrum (1880) and a host of other buildings were painstakingly designed by him incorporating the native style of design whenever required. It took 10 years to complete the  GPO building work that began in..1874. Opened for business in April 1884.Postal services began way back in 1712.. The name GPO was given because it served as the HQ for the local postal services/ branches .................

Since the cost of construction and conservation is going up as months gone-by an'sd the  heritage structure is also  weakening due to inordinate delay, it is well and good if the GPO colonial heritage structure  is conserved soon and restored back to safety and charm of the world world.