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Kolkata GPO

Exhibition marking 250 years of Kolkata General Post Office traces history of India’s postal system

The West Bengal governor inaugurated the exhibition, titled ‘Journey of Mails’, which is on till March 19

Barnini Maitra Chakraborty | Published 17.03.24, 07:18 PM
Displays from the exhibition at the rotunda of the GPO

Displays from the exhibition at the rotunda of the GPO

Photos: Suvendu Das

The postman was once a part of people’s life, one who delivered messages of joy — wedding invitations, appointment letters or letters from loved ones — as well as letters filled with sorrow. Many stories and many songs were written on them — be it Rabindranath Tagore’s Dakghar and Postmaster, that was made into a film by Satyajit Ray, or R.K. Narayan's The Missing Mail or the popular Salil Chowdhury composition Runner, sung by Hemanta Mukhopadhyay.

West Bengal governor C.V. Ananda Bose poses in front of a sculpture of a postman after inaugurating the exhibition

West Bengal governor C.V. Ananda Bose poses in front of a sculpture of a postman after inaugurating the exhibition

An exhibition, inaugurated by West Bengal governor C.V. Ananda Bose, is on at the premises, and will be open from 11am to 7.30pm till March 19. The exhibition, titled ‘Journey of Mails’ traces the rich postal heritage of West Bengal with models of palanquins, boats, bullock carts, railway mail coaches and a postman. On display are historical seals of GPO, postmarks and postcards, photographs and paintings.

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Paintings of the GPO on display

Paintings of the GPO on display

In 1783, the Calcutta GPO started using palanquins to carry mails and travellers. Dawk Chowkies were established for the conveyance of mail on the old military roads from Calcutta to Benaras. Dawk boats (mail boats) were deployed from Calcutta to different destinations to carry mail, parcels and passengers as mentioned in a police notification issued on March 10, 1781. On Lord Dalhousie’s instructions, railway companies were instructed to carry mails and parcels in specialised coaches in 1853. Replicas of all such modes of transport used by the postal department are on display at the exhibition.

Replicas of modes of transport previously used by the postal department

Replicas of modes of transport previously used by the postal department

A special philatelic cover of the GPO and a gold-plated silver replica of India Postage Stamp on Calcutta GPO Building (issued in the year 1968) were released at the inauguration. Speaking on the occasion, the governor reminiscenced about his mother’s connection to the postal department.

“This event is very special to me. I see my mother here. She was a postmistress,” he said, announcing a postal museum that will be set up on the Raj Bhavan premises. He also announced awards for the best post office and postal workers in honour of his mother.

The GPO lit up at night

The GPO lit up at night

The inauguration programme was followed by a musical concert conducted by Abraham Mazumder. The musicians of Abraham Mazumder Academy played compositions of Beethoven, Vivaldi, Bach, John Lennon, Rabindranath Tagore, Satyajit Ray and Mohiner Ghoraguli.

Last updated on 17.03.24, 07:19 PM
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