Vizianagram Hall (Senate Hall) Dept. of Science, U of Allahabad, UP restored to its old grandeur

2021 Postal stamp, Dome with turquoise tile Senate

Above image:  A Special cover was released on the Conserved Vizianagaram Hall Campus of the University of Allahabad on 4th March 2021 at Allahabad...............

Senate hall (Vzhayanagaram Hall) AU Muir

Above image: The Senate Hall (Vizayanagaram Hall) of Muir Central College, now part of Allahabad University. Allahabad (Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh. 200 ft tall tower overlooking the play ground...................

Muir college with senate Hall, Allahabad, wikipedia

Above image: The Muir Central College. Photo Credit: (Mr.Abhijeet Vardhan).  Note the outer part of the dome without blue turquoises ceramic tiles. The other structures were also not in good condition in the 2010s due to official carelessness and lack of adequate funds)......................

The Vizianagram Hall of the Faculty of Science at Allahabad University, a cherished heritage structure, underwent a significant restoration in the late 2010s. By the early 2000s, due to poor upkeep and lack of funds, the hall had deteriorated significantly. Visitors were greeted by broken walls, damaged by creeping branches, shattered glass panes, and wooden doors barely hanging on their hinges. The structure's stability was compromised by root wedging, and the antique marble statues and chandeliers were in a state of disrepair. The once-imposing dome looked lifeless, with many ceramic tiles missing or broken, while algae and vegetation growth, along with layers of bird droppings, marred its appearance. The outer walls had faded from prolonged exposure to the elements, causing concern among historians and heritage enthusiasts.

Recognizing the hall's significance, steps were taken as far back as 2008 to restore it. The university contacted the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Delhi chapter, which eventually sent conservation specialists to assess the site. Approval was granted for the restoration work, and the project was assigned to Rail India Technical and Economic Service (RITES).

The restoration was a meticulous and labor-intensive process, including complete waterproofing, wall conservation, fresco painting on the ceiling, and extensive woodwork repair. One of the primary challenges was identifying and matching the original color of the glazed tiles on the dome. To address this, The Times of India (TOI) played a pivotal role by obtaining a piece of the original tile and sending it to the RAL Deutsches Institut für Gütesicherung und Kennzeichnung in Germany, which identified the color as turquoise. TOI also managed to procure three-fourths of the rare original tiles from the lawn of Prof. Manas Mukul Das, a former faculty member of the English Department at Allahabad University.

These tiles, produced by skilled artisans from Rajasthan, were essential for the restoration. Before affixing the tiles, restoration experts applied a double coating of waterproofing followed by an adhesive layer. A 3mm interspace was left between tiles to allow for heat expansion, filled using a grouting technique typically used to fill voids, gaps, and cracks in concrete, ensuring water-proofing. The well-preserved original tiles were crucial in maintaining the hall's historical integrity.

TOI's contribution was particularly noteworthy, as none of the blue tiles initially chosen by RITES matched the originals. The involvement of TOI and the discovery of the original tiles in Prof. Das's lawn were instrumental in the project's success.

The restoration project faced numerous challenges, but the dedication of the engineers and artisans resulted in the hall being meticulously restored. By December 2020, the long-awaited restoration was completed, and in March 2021, the restored Vizianagram Hall was inaugurated, returning it to its former glory.

The restoration of Vizianagram Hall not only preserved its historical and architectural significance but also reinstated its grandeur, contributing to the rich heritage of Allahabad University. Known as the "Oxford of the East" during the British Raj, the university's legacy was honored through this project. The restored hall stands as a testament to the city's commitment to preserving its historical treasures for future generations.