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Maharashtra Raj Bhavan’s Darbar Hall to Be Razed and Revamped

The 100-year-old hall is all set to get a makeover but will retain its original historical fetaures.

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India
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The Maharashtra Governor’s official residence at Mumbai’s Malabar Hill, namely the Raj Bhavan’s Darbar Hall, is to be demolished and reconstructed, according to a report by the Indian Express. The 100-year-old sea-facing building has suffered the ravages of nature and requires refurbishment.

The historical building is used especially for grand occasions like swearing-in ceremonies and is also known as Jal Sabhagriha. The book Raj Bhavans of Maharashtra, Witness of Glory says:

Jal Sabhagriha, commonly known as Darbar Hall, was built to host functions and events of a more official nature. While Jal Vihar was used for entertainment and amusement purposes, Jal Sabhagriha was built to conduct swearing-in ceremonies and to host other official events and cultural programmes
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According to the book, the audience hall was fashioned by the famous Scottish architect George Wittet and can accommodate 250 people.

Conservation architect Abha Narian Lambah, who has been assigned the task of reconstructing the building, told the Indian Express that the new building would retain the attributes of the old. Lambah said, as quoted by the Indian Express:

The Public Works Department carried out an audit of the building. Since it is facing the sea, it has incurred great damage over the years and needs to be reconstructed completely. The idea is to reconstruct it to its original design and retain the historically relevant features of the building. The chandeliers in the hall will be placed back once the work is completed.

The prime objective in redesigning this building is to make it environment-friendly. A design competition was conducted in order to pick the new design for the hall.

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Lambah has been asked by the government to increase the capacity of the hall so it can accommodate more people. Lambah said, as quoted in the Indian Express:

We have been told to ensure the hall can accommodate more people as much larger in-house space is required for functions held here now

The reconstruction initiative is still being planned, said a Raj Bhavan official to the Indian Express. The Secretariat building is also to be razed and rebuild. During the rebuilding process, alternative accommodation would be provided to the secretarial staff of the Raj Bhavan, said the official. According to Lambah, the reconstruction is expected to begin in another six months, once all the necessary permits have been procured. The reconstruction is expected to take another year. Lambah said:

A lot of things will have to be kept in mind during the construction since this is a VIP area and tight security will be in place. Other considerations will be to ensure minimal disturbance owing to sound and dust during construction activity

(With inputs from the Indian Express)

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