Thursday, Oct 02, 2014

Century-old Fergusson College amphitheatre gets fresh lease of life

Written by Express News Service | Posted: July 14, 2013 1:34 am

The century-old N M Wadia amphitheatre at Fergusson College here that bears testimony to several landmark social,cultural and political events since the pre-Independence days of our country will be inaugurated after its big renovation on Sunday.

Spread over a sprawling 18,000-sq ft campus,the two-storey heritage building completed its 100th year in September last year.

“The renovation of the amphitheatre has been in conformity with the all the laid-down guidelines for makeover of a heritage structure. While no major changes have been introduced to the exteriors of the building,its interiors have been given a facelift,” Vikas Kaktkar,vice-chairman of the council and governing body of Deccan Education Society that governs the Fergusson College told mediapersons,on Saturday.

Elaborating on the renovation work,he said,“The work included repairs and renovation of the roof and hall. The entire stage has been effectively re-decorated,retaining its original blend of architecture. The old seating arrangement in the hall has been replaced with new,improved chairs,with its entrance redone with patterned paving blocks. An advanced lighting and sound system has been put in place,along with CCTV cameras and fire alarm.”

Rs 1.75 crore was spent on the renovation of this heritage building,of which Shirke Group of Industries bore the major share.

The original majestic building of Fergusson College amphitheatre was designed by Diwan Bahadur Godbole. Planned in the second phase of the development of the College,this neo-gothic building is hailed as an architectural marvel for its Gothic windows and arcades. The building’s layout bears a stamp of colonial expression. As per the College records,the construction of the amphitheatre was completed in 1912. Build using local stone (basalt),the main structure has a main auditorium and two balconies.

The amphitheatre,which was built almost 17 years after the college was constructed in 1895,had a few generous donors. Donations made by Wadia Charities of Rs 25,000,Prince Agakhan of Rs 5,000 and 18 others of Rs 1,000 each made sure the amphitheatre came up in time.

Since its establishment more than century ago,the amphitheatre has lived up to the expectations of the British colonial administrator and British Army officer George Sydenham Clarke,who was present during its inauguration.

“This impressive and characteristic building should provide a training ground for the true leaders of the people in the future,the men who court neither popularity nor power for themselves,who will trust to reasoning based on knowledge and not to declaration..,” reads an excerpt from his speech.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to inaugurate the renovated building on Sunday. An international conference on the recent developments in Stratigraphy is an event the college authorities are going to host at the amphitheater in the near future.

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