More than 20,000 telegrams are estimated to have been booked on the day the country bid adieu to the 163-year-old telegram service, with one of the last messages booked for Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.

The telegram to Mr. Gandhi was sent just before the service closed at 11.45 p.m. on Sunday at the Central Telegraph Office (CTO) in New Delhi. The Gandhi family scion was wished “success and happiness in life” and “glories of greatman of the past.”

Hundreds crammed into 75 telegram offices in the country to send souvenir messages before the service was permanently shut down.

Known popularly as ‘taar’ or wire, the telegram service, which provided millions with a fast and reliable mode of communication, closed because of mounting financial losses and becoming redundant in an era of mobile phones and Internet. “Around 20,000 telegrams are estimated to have been booked and 12,568 were despatched by afternoon. Last telegram was for Rahul Gandhi before computer finally closed. Maximum bookings of over 11,000 are estimated to have been done in Mumbai alone,” a BSNL spokesperson said. On average, 5,000 telegrams were sent daily.

BSNL, which was given the charge of telegraph after the latter was separated from Department of Posts in 2002, cancelled leave and increased staff at all telegram offices over weekend to cater to the last day rush.

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