July 01, 2017

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Patna’s iconic GPO turns 100 today

Written By Admin on Jul 1, 2017 | July 01, 2017



PATNA: The city's iconic general post office (GPO), a marvelous example of British architecture, will turn 100 on Saturday.

It was in 1915 that Viceroy Lord Charles Hardinge laid the stone of the building, the construction of which was ordered by the then ruling East India Company. Designed by English architect Joseph P Munnings, the building saw the GPO function from July 1, 1917 for Bihar and Orissa province after its separation from Bengal Presidency in April 1912.

It was in 1915 that Viceroy Lord Charles Hardinge laid the stone of the building, the construction of which was ordered by the then ruling East India Company. Designed by English architect Joseph P Munnings, the building saw the GPO function from July 1, 1917 for Bihar and Orissa province after its separation from Bengal Presidency in April 1912.

GPO officials said the post office premises was initially sprawled over an area of 22 acres of land and had four gardens. The Gothic Revival style structure was later spread to 2.5 lakh sq ft from 1.93 lakh sq ft. The original structure had three porticos facing north, south and east. The western flank was added later.

The biggest eastern portico functioned as the main entry. The heritage building, initially intended to house 16 employees, now comfortably houses almost 296 officials.

The first floor houses 14 halls, huge even by colonial standards. The chief postmaster's office is now located in the central portion, while just underneath it is the deputy postmaster's office. The ground floor houses seven rooms and four massive halls with counter areas. One multipurpose hall houses the counters of all the mail and booking services, while the other three counter halls deal with financial services, staff and philately, respectively. A separate area for 96 postmen, along with mail, delivery and parcel sections are housed in seven other rooms in the ground floor near the southern side. Separate counter areas exist for senior citizens and students in the northern side of the building
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Serving as an important economic and administrative link between United Provinces of Agra & Oudh and Bengal Presidency, Patna GPO was a major postal centre of EIC.

Officials said the first post office of the province was near Hazaribagh, currently in Jharkhand, and not in either of the administrative capitals of Patna or Puri. The first post office in official records of Patna was near Anishabad area, which later shifted to Bankipore, 150 metres away from the original GPO structure. The post office of Bankipore area, housing the Bankipore Jail and the current railway junction, after the 1917 construction moved to Muradabad area on Ashok Rajpath.

With the advent of information technology, one can question the utility of the postal department. However, chief postmaster general of Patna GPO, Anil Kumar, said, "As long as we keep ourselves relevant to the times, postal department will never decay. We have started banking, passport, employee exchange and UID services for the people. We tried reaching seven remote districts of Bihar to offer passport services and garnered a lot of support. We will offer these services at 30 districts across the state by the end of this year."

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