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Going underground in the bunker museum

Paul Noronha | Updated on October 04, 2019 Published on October 04, 2019

A British-era bunker, discovered at the governor’s residence in Mumbai, will soon be opened to the public as a museum

Standing tall in a dense thicket, sheltered by a cliff and overlooking the Arabian Sea on three sides, is the Raj Bhavan in the heart of south Mumbai. The site of the residence-cum-office of the Maharashtra governor, ‘Jal Bhushan’ is a storehouse of history dating back to the colonial era.

Once the residence of the British governor of Bombay, it boasts a precious collection of carpets, paintings, exquisitely carved doors and French-style furniture. With its intricate architecture, the building delights history buffs and artists alike.

In 2016, yet another historical facet of this edifice came to light after a temporary wall of an underground tunnel was razed. A British-era bunker, spread across 15,000 sq ft, was uncovered. Built before World War I, the 13-room bunker was equipped with ammunition to meet any contingency.

Following its rediscovery, the current governor C Vidyasagar Rao decided to restore the bunker and convert it into a museum. While staying true to its original character, the restored structure in its museum form incorporates dioramas of cannons and soldiers, and an optical illusion of a bunker of infinite length. There are virtual reality booths that allow visitors to go back in time and experience cannon firing virtually or listen to historical anecdotes. Recently inaugurated by President Ram Nath Kovind, the museum is expected to be opened to the public later this month.

Paul Noronha

Published on October 04, 2019