100-year-old bunker discovered under Maharashtra Governor’s bungalow. Image Credit: Supplied

Mumbai: A 150-metre long underground British era bunker has been discovered under Raj Bhavan, the official residence of the Governor of Maharshtra.

About three months ago, Governor Vidyasagar Rao was informed by senior staff that a tunnel existed under the sprawling, scenic complex of Raj Bhavan on Malabar Hill in south Mumbai. Interested in what he heard from long-time employees of Raj Bhavan, the Governor wanted to know more of it and asked that a wall that was sealed more than 100 years back be opened.

“On August 12, when the staff of the Public Works Department broke open a temporary wall that closed the entrance to the bunker on the eastern side, they were surprised. Instead of an underground tunnel, an entire barrack with 13 rooms of different sizes was found. The bunker opens with a 20-ft tall gate and a ramp on the western side. There are long passages and small to medium rooms on either side,” stated a Raj Bhavan release.

The bunker spread over an area of more than 5,000 sq ft has rooms bearing the name Shell Store, Gun Shell, Cartridge Store, Shell Lift, Pump, Workshop, and others. There are also scores of lamp recesses in the gangway.

The Governor accompanied by his wife Vinodha visited the bunker on Wednesday, after which he expressed his intention to consult experts from various fields to preserve it. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnvais visited the bunker later in the evening and also said that experts are being asked to demystify the history of the bunker.

Even though the bunker was apparently closed after Independence, it has been found to be surprisingly intact. Interestingly, the entire underground bunker has a drainage system and inlets for fresh air and light.

According to the History of Raj Bhavans in Maharashtra, this complex was formerly known as “Government House” and served as the residence of British Governors since 1885 when Lord Reay turned it into a permanent residence. Prior to 1885, the Malabar Hill residence served as the Summer Residence of British governors. The Government House at Parel in central Mumbai served as the governor’s residence before 1885.