| The renovated Durbar Hall inside the Raj Bhavan. Telegraph picture |
Shillong, Aug. 4: The Durbar Hall of Raj Bhavan has been given a makeover, but its heritage appearance has been left unblemished.
In its long years of existence, the Durbar Hall inside the picturesque Raj Bhavan has been witness to several historic events.
From being the venue where the Legislative Council during pre-Independence days met to being the spot where swearing-in ceremonies of various Meghalaya chief ministers and ministers were held — the Durbar Hall stands testimony to history.
Governor R.S. Mooshahary today inaugurated the renovated Durbar Hall in the presence of chief minister Mukul Sangma and several officials.
“This Durbar Hall has become time-worn and unsafe. It has been completely renovated and restructured providing two clerestory spires, teak-panelled walls, polished wooden floors and a bigger stage,” the commemorative inscriptions at the entrance to the Durbar Hall read.
In 1864, Shillong became the new civil station of the Khasi and Jaintia hills. It remained the summer capital of Eastern Bengal and Assam for several years.
Ten years later in 1874, on the formation of Assam as a chief commissioner’s province, Shillong was chosen as the capital of the new administration.
The Raj Bhavan, which was the chief commissioner’s residency from 1874-97, was razed to the ground by a massive earthquake in 1897. It was rebuilt in 1903, and completed in 1905. The earlier stone masonry was replaced by lighter and quake-resistant timber woodwork to prevent destruction of the edifice.
Following the Partition of Bengal in 1905, the headquarters was shifted to Dhaka. In 1911, the headquarters was reverted to Shillong.
“When we came here in 2008, we saw that there were many things which were required to be done,” Mooshahary said while addressing from the dais of the renovated Durbar Hall this afternoon.
He said two kitchens were found to be unusable while a water tank, which was more than 100 years, had to be removed.
All renovation work, including that of Durbar Hall, took four years to complete. The entire exercise was done by the state public works department.
The governor also said he had commissioned water harvesting facilities and proper drainage system in Raj Bhavan.
“A 30kW solar power panel will also be installed. This solar panel will cater to 50 per cent of our requirements during peak season and about 80 per cent during the lean season. It will be installed within two years,” Mooshahary said.
He stated that the heritage building requires constant care and attention to maintain its beauty. Mooshahary also stressed the necessity to maintain and preserve the age-old building.
The former NSG chief’s term as governor of the state is due to end next year. He took over as the head of state in June 2008.