Kerala celebrates as grand, old Secretariat turns 150

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Thiruvananthapuram: The landmark Secretariat building in Kerala capital is celebrating 150 years of existence.

As part of its 150th anniversary, the government will hold various functions at the Secretariat from Saturday till November 7.

The celebrations would be inaugurated by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan at 4.30 pm on Saturday. The event would be held at the south sandwich block of the Secretariat.

Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan would preside over the function which would be attended by ministers and MLAs, among others. The cultural events would be held from 5.30 pm onwards.

An exhibition by the archives department, a photo exhibition by the information public relations department, drawing competition for children, a documentary on the history of Secretariat and seminars would be held. Arrangements would also be made for the public to see the old Legislative Assembly hall and exhibits.

The history

Ayilam Thirunal Maharaja of the erstwhile Travancore had inaugurated the building on July 8, 1869. The offices began to function at the building on August 23.

When the Secretariat began to function, several offices of the government came under one building.

William Barton had designed building which was modelled on Roman-Dutch architecture. Once the design was approved for the two-storey building, the construction was s started. Rs 1,70,000 was the estimated cost of construction.

Ayilyam Thirunal Maharaja laid the foundation stone on December 7, 1865. The then Public Words Department's records stated that it was for building the public office.

It took four years to complete the construction. As per the government records available at the Secretariat library, around Rs 3 lakh was spent.

70ft long, 40ft wide and 38ft high

Hundreds of people were involved in the construction works. Governor of Madras Francis Napier and the Kochi Maharaja, too, came to Travancore to witness the construction.

People from both rural and urban lands turned up to the see the construction involving steam engines.

The Darbar Hall, which was 70ft long, 40ft wide, and 38ft high, added to the beauty of the structure. The building at the middle that comprises Darbar Hall was built by Barton. The rest of the parts were later added on.

The first visitor

British Viceroy of India Lord Curzon, who arrived in 1900, was the first the viceroy to visit the Darbar Hall. He was accorded a stupendous welcome with elephant, and the ceremonial firing by soldiers. A feast was given to the Lord at a temporary shamiyana set up behind the Darbar Hall.

The role of Diwan

Diwan of Travancore T Madhava Rao had spearheaded the construction of the Secretariat. Due to the space constraints, Madhava Rao had moved out major offices to other parts of the city.

The statue of Sir T Madhava Rao was the first to come up in the city for his role in the construction of the Secretariat. His statue was placed opposite the Secretariat and the area began to be known as statue junction. The only statue within the Secretariat premises is that of Velu Thampi Dalawa.

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