Century old Victoria Hall’s renovation work to complete by March

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Phanindra Pradhan

Sambalpur, Jan 31: The renovation work of more than century old historical Veer Surendra Sai (VSS) Town Hall, popularly known as Victoria Hall, in Sambalpur city will be completed by March this year.

The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has been entrusted to carry out the renovation work of the heritage building. The renovation of the building began in the month of May, 2017 and the renovation work is on the verge of completion. The Tourism department had sanctioned Rs 1.24 crore for the renovation work.

Member of INTACH, Sambalpur Chapter, Deepak Panda said the renovation work of the building including the interior designing work is almost completed. Under the renovation work, the roof of the historical building has been repaired and plastering of the walls of the building has been undertaken.

He said the plastering work was carried out by adopting traditional methods. He said the materials used in plastering of the walls during construction of the heritage building were used for the renovation. A paste was prepared by mixing lime, gum of wood apple, wash nut and jaggery in specified proportion and plastering was done by using the paste. Currently, painting work besides glass panels fitting work are underway, he said.

He said a museum will be developed in the VSS Hall. The INTACH will provide support for development of the museum, where tradition and history of the region will be exhibited, he informed. They have set a target to complete all the work including the museum work by March this year, he said.

The foundation stone of the Victoria Hall was laid way back in 1902 and the then Chief Commissioner of the Central Province, JP Hewety had inaugurated the building in the year 1904. The then Superintending Engineer of the Central Province, JB Leven Thorpey had prepared the design of the imposing building.

The British Government took decision to construct buildings in the memory of Queen Victoria after she died in the year 1901 and name it in her name in district headquarters of India including Sambalpur. An amount of Rs 9,417 was contributed by the kings, zamindars and businessmen of the region for construction of the building. 

The building was named as Victoria Hall and was rechristened as VSS Town Hall in the name of legendary freedom fighter Veer Surendra Sai after independence.

INTACH member Panda said several important meetings were organised in the building as Sambalpur was a major hub during the British rule. Even the then Governor of Bengal Sir Andrew Frazer had convened a meeting of the kings of the region in the building in 1908, he said.  

The Zilla School, Women’s College and Trust Fund College which is presently known as Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose College besides offices of Sambalpur Development Authority and District Culture Office operated from this building in the past before moving to their existing locations in the city, he added.

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