Pune's Head Post office building - a British legacy inspired by architect Andrea Palladio

Head Post office, Pune, MH sahapedia.org

Above image: HPO, Pune. 19th century building.  location: Sadhuwasvani Chowk, Church Path, beside Samaj Kalyan, Agarkar Nagar

Head Post office, Pune, MH sahapedia.org

Head post office, pune, Maharashtra, india,.agefotostock.com

Countless  offices of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs  are  still functioning in old colonial type buildings  across India and because of their distinctive and European architectural style, they stand apart in  the concrete jungle of  21st century. GPO is housed in European or Indo European styled building in major cities like Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, etc; so are the head post offices and others.  Periodic repair is a major problem in many of them, considering their age and design style. 

Much has not been written about the colonial building of Pune city, MH that houses the HO - Head Office of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs and it is still mistaken as GPO. In the state of Maharashtra  there are two GPOs,  one in Mumbai and another one in Nagpur. The building in Pune was built at the turn of the 19th century on a sprawling plot of 2 acres of land with greenery in a prime location  close to the Pune Junction Railway Station,  District Collector's, hospital and other government offices.

Italian architect Andrea Palladio scihi.org

Architecturally rich, it is one of the  oldest buildings which was influenced  by the work of Andrea Palladio.  The architects of 
 the Victorian era adopted his design features to build government buildings as they were much impressed by his combined puritanical simplicity with  stately look.    The low and wide building is a tribute to him whose original name was Andrea di Pietro della Gondola, (born Nov. 30, 1508, Padua, Republic of Venice ([Italy)—died August 1580, Vicenza), Italian Renaissance architect of great  repute in the 16th-century. Hailing from northern Italy, his designs for palaces (palazzi) and villas (Villa Rotonda (1550–51,near Vicenza ), his four books on architecture made him one of the most popular architects in Europe.  His book I quattro libri dell'architettura, using illustrations rather than cumbersome text was used by countless architects. The then British architects also derived inspiration from  Inigo Jones between 1620 and 1650 and by Lord Burlington between 1720 and 1750.

The present HPO building, Pune  may be   the  result of further revival  in the 1870s and 1880s with contemporary interpretation. Design styles such  as double Tuscan columns in the verandah, arched windows with enlarged keystones and wedge-shaped stones, rusticated corners, and typical railings and balusters enhanced the splendor of the building and its simplicity. Palladio never used basaltic rocks for  building construction work, but the colonial architects and engineers lavishly used  Volcanic basalt rock (of the Deccan region), sandstone, etc., along with  timber, tiles, bricks, and lime.  The building faces the east unlike other colonial structures).  Built in Tuscan style with Palladian elements, lunettes (semi-circular arches), rusticated corner (decorative masonry work providing a rich and bold surface for exterior masonry walls)  and large windows  central porch, the skylight pavilion, and the cornices with teeth-like protrusions (dentil cornice) add beauty to the poorly projected  elegance of the post office. The west side of the building is plain. 

Like many colonial structures across the country, no serious attention is paid to properly maintain the building. Blatant neglect is writ across the two acre site. Deplorable is the official apathy  and lack of interest to preserve this colonial legacy in this part of Pune.