Thiruvananthapuram

Kerala Secretariat: 150 iconic years of being the seat of power

Pinarayi Vijayan to inaugurate celebrations today; a host of programmes to be held till November 7

The iconic Government Secretariat here is celebrating its 150th anniversary.

The government has decided to mark the occasion with elaborate programmes.

The Secretariat completed 150 years on August 23.

A host of programmes will be held from November 1 to 7 at the Secretariat. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will inaugurate the celebrations at 4.30 p.m. on Friday.

One umbrella

It was on July 8, 1869, that Ayilyam Tirunal Rama Varma, then ruler of the erstwhile Travancore, inaugurated the Secretariat complex. Offices started functioning here on August 23. With this, the offices that till then were scattered all round and the Huzur Kacheri came under one umbrella.

William Barton designed the two-storey Secretariat complex in the Roman-Dutch architectural style. The work estimate was 1.7 lakh Travancore rupees, though government records in the Secretariat library show that 3 lakh rupees was spent.

The foundation stone was laid on December 7, 1865, at a grand event.

Though slated to be completed in two years, it took four years for the work to be finished.

Durbar hall

The middle structure that includes the Durbar Hall was the one designed by William Barton. The rest came up later. Crystal lamps, medley of stained glass, and floor tiles added to its beauty. It was here that the earlier rulers held durbars to decide on important things. Durbars were also held when a king or queen ascended the throne in Britain or when a British viceroy or Governor General were put in charge of the administration.

The then Dewan of Travancore T. Madhava Rao was instrumental in the construction of the Secretariat. He was the one who decided to shift the cramped Huzur Kacheri from the cramped premises in the Fort area to the Secretariat. His statue was the first to come up in the city, opposite the Secretariat. The place came to be known as Statue Junction.

Inside the Secretariat, the lone statue is that of Velu Thampi Dalawa. It was unveiled by Union Minister Y.B. Chavan when R. Sankar was the Chief Minister.

The celebrations will be held near the Secretariat’s South Sandwich Block. Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan will preside. Cultural programmes, an exhibition of historical records, photo exhibition, competitions for children, seminar, and so on will be held.

The public will be allowed to visit the old Assembly hall and exhibitions.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 10:18:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/150-iconic-years-of-being-the-seat-of-power/article29850614.ece

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