Colonial GPO building, Nagpur - heritage structure

Nagpur general Post office.

Nagpur GPO, MH. Panoramio

 The postal system was not new to India and before the arrival of the European colonies, the early rulers used their own postal system to transmit messages between ruling countries. The East India Company took serious steps to improve the already existing systems in India. In 1688, they opened a post office in Bombay followed by similar ones in Calcutta and Madras. Anticipating the usefulness and the necessity, Lord Robert Clive further expanded the services in 1766 and in 1774 Warren Hastings went one step ahead and made the services available to the general public.

The British Raj came into being in 1858, transferring rule of the East India Company to the Crown. This was done, as you may know, in the wake of the worst rebellion - Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. There were 889 post offices in 1861, handling nearly 43 million letters and over 4.5 million newspapers annually. The first postal appointment in 1870 - superintendent of the post office was introduced in Allahabad. In 1876, British India became the first non-founding member of the General Postal Union. During the British era, the rulers built beautiful postal buildings across India in the plains, coastal areas, on the popular hill stations, etc., and the Indian government is taking serious steps to repair and preserve them for our posterity, for they are the silent reminders of the bygone colonial era.

The Government Post Office building in the city of Nagpur, Maharastra is a British-era heritage structure that completed 100 years of its continuous existence in 2016! It was declared a national heritage by the Indian Government in February 1994. As part of the centenary celebrations of the British era heritage structure, in the past, the Postal Department of the Central Government released a series of stamps on such heritage colonial postal building established by the British. As for the GPO, Nagpur, a district level philately exhibition was held in 2016 to encourage the public to develop the hobby of stamp collection. For a  fortnight from 8-22 October 2916, the commemoration was held to celebrate the completion of one hundred years of this beautiful colonial heritage site.

The Nagpur GPO, an amazingly beautiful two storied building built in the Victorian style was once the seat of the erstwhile Post Master General of Central Provinces and Berar. It is considered to be the mother institution in the postal circle of Central Provinces. It was in 1965 it came under the jurisdiction of the Post Master General of Maharashtra circle. 

This historical building is basically a load-bearing structure made of brick walls beefed up by steel columns, beams, and ribs encased in lime concrete with a pitched roof in country tiles and battens. The exterior part made of red-painted bricks and buff-colored sandstones with wide verandas, Tuscan columns, stone screens, and a Roman arch give a unique appearance to the building. Its majestic look is further enhanced by a pavilion of 12 columns supporting a clock tower atop the building. This simple structure attracts our attention by its stunning look. I had the opportunity of seeing this building and others more than two decades ago. Though I went past the city on a few occasions in the recent past I never got a chance to get off at Nagpur.

General post office bldg. with a clock atop

The building is believed to have been  constructed between 1916 and 1921on a plot of 9.5 acres in a prime area at the cost of  Rs.501,000.00.  The plinth and the built-up area is about 26, 622 square feet. The Nagpur GPO is a postal complex, comprising  a residential plot for the post master, a parcel hub, a postal store depot, a recreation club for the staff and a South Indian canteen.

The GPO has a
philately section that was started on 15 August 1948 and is a heaven for the stamp collectors. Carefully arranged with meticulous care are stacks of the finest philately products — tool boxes, mugs, books, calendars, key chains, etc. You will also get to see the first day covers and brochures that collector may like. The other interesting facility you have here, I understand, is that you can have your picture or your friends' printed on the stamp for a nominal fee and give them as gifts to them, relatives, and others. This bureau at Nagpur is one among seven such bureaus present in the Maharashtra circle.