By Prashant H. Pandya

After the establishment of Bombay GPO in 1830, Bombay Post Office rules were introduced and a list of post offices in India was published. As per the list of post offices published in Bombay Gazetteer of the same year. The list has mention of a Camp Post Office, which was located in Cantonment area, outside the Gaekwar territory of the erstwhile Baroda State. There was no other post office in Baroda City area till that time.

 In 1863 the H. H. Gaekwar Government entered in to an agreement with British Postal Authority for establishment of postal arrangements in Baroda territory. In November 1863, with the intention to provide postal facilities to the inhabitants of Baroda City, the British Postal Authorities thought of opening Receiving House in the city's Mandvi area. But the Durbar was unwilling to accord sanction to its establishment within the city area, on the ground that the gates were being kept closed at certain hours in the night might impede the working of the post office sometime. However Durbar had no objection for opening a Receiving House in the Rowpoora (Raopura) area or at Chabootara of the said suburb.

 The Inspecting Post Master of Guzerat (Gujarat) stated in his letter dated 27th April, 1864 addressed to Major H. R. Hothway, Assistant Resident of Baroda, that ?the establishment of a branch post office in the city would be in a great measure benefit the people.  In other foreign territories, there are Government Post Office and the people of Baroda themselves are very anxious to have a post office in the city?. He also suggested that the Receiving House should be established at Limra Chowk area which was outside the city but not so distant from Mandvee. Nothing further appears to have been occurred till 1867.

 In December 1867, Mr. F. R. Hogg, Offg. Post Master General, Bombay paid a visit to Camp P.O. in Baroda. He noticed that large proportions of mails were posted in the city compared to those mailed in the letter box placed at Camp Post Office. He also remarked that an average of seven letters were registered everyday by inhabitants of the town against one only by resident of camp. Practice of posting bearing letters was common among residents of city area, as the purchase of postage stamps in the city was not possible. The Post Office being in the Cantonment of Baroda, many of the inhabitants did not receive its benefit freely. Mr. Hogg was anxious to open a Receiving House in the city where all the postal services could have availed by the residents of Baroda City and walk up to Camp post office could be avoided.

Till October 1874 British Postal Authority could not open Receiving House in desired area of the city. November 1874 the H. H. Gaekwar Government vide their letter no. 2022, dated 9th November 1874 granted permission for opening a post office outside the Lehereepoora (Lehripura) gate. The exact location of the Receiving House is not known but an old map in Baroda Archives shows a location of post office in Limra Chowk area. Probably it was renamed to Baroda City P.O. and again renamed to Laheripura S.O. in November 1927.

I could not find any information about the opening of Baroda Head Office but the Postal Guide of 1880 and 1882 states the existence of Baroda H.O., Baroda City (Receiving House) and Baroda Camp Post Office.

 In March 1892, Mr. W. P. Symonds Post Master General, Bombay had requested the Agent to the Government of Baroda to initiate communication with H.H. Gaekwar Government for erecting a new building for Baroda H. O. He also stated that the existing building did not had sufficient accommodation for the office and a new suitable building was required. The location of the Head Post Office is also not known. One letter of Mr. F. D. Kamdin, Superintendent of Post Offices, Kaira Division addressed to His Excellency Diwan Bahadur of Baroda State dated 3rd October, 1907 states that the Head Post Office and Telegraph office at Baroda was held for past 30 years in the building owned by Mr. Appoo at Raopura from which we can presume that H.P.O. might have established around 1877 in Raopura area.

Again in 1904 the Resident of Baroda had suggested the H. H. Gaekwar Government to erect new H.P.O. building and three sites were suggested for the same. One at ground opposite to Band Building between Makarpura and Nagarpada Road, second opposite to Rajmahal and New Police Guard Station and third near Panjara Pole. The Gaekwar Government did not approve these sites. Communication on the subject continued for a long period.

In 1907 the building where Head Post Office and Telegraph office was situated, collapsed due to heavy rain and it was temporarily shifted near Kothi to Mr. Borkar?s Bunglow. The building was temporarily occupied for a period of 12 months ending 4th September 1908. In the same year Mr. F. D. Kamdin, Superintendent of Post Offices, Kaira Division submitted a plan for proposed building for Head Post Office to the Gaekwar Government and suggested three new sites. One near Kharchikar?s Wada, second at Facing the Kharivav Road and third at Bhaskar Rao Vithal?s Paga near Anandpura Police Chowky. H. H. Gaekwar Government was not ready to undertake construction of building but was prepared to place at disposal of the postal authority, any of the two sites (1) Near Kharchikar?s Home in Raopura and (2) Bhaskar Rao Vithal?s Paga. It was also suggested that the postal authority should construct the H.P.O. building keeping in view  with the state buildings in architectural style. 

Meanwhile in April, 1908 Post Master General, Bombay sanctioned construction of Head Post Office Building close to Nawab?s Haveli on Chimnabai Tower Road. The landlord Mr. Chhaganlal Parikh agreed to give the new building ready by September 1908. A pucca building with brick walls and tin and tile roof was constructed on Raopura Road comprising of Telegraph Office, Sorting Room, Post Master?s room, Treasury room, clerk?s room, runner?s room and godowns. Working of the Head Post Office continued in the same building for a long period. Once again in February 1922 the Resident at Baroda initiated communication with Gaekwar Government for the erection of Head Post Office at the junction of Kothi Road and Jail Road.  In March 1922, H. E. Dewan of the Baroda State agreed to the erection of New Head Post Office building, considering the project as an investment and directed the Post Master General, Bombay to submit specifications for the building. On 26th September 1922 the approval for the construction of the new building was granted and finally in August 1934 the construction of new Head Post Office building opposite to the east of Suryanarayan temple (present location of Baroda H.O.) was completed. The Head Post Office was moved to new building from 1st September 1934. On moving to new building Window deliver system was ceased and Post Box system was introduced with a fees of Rs. 15.00 per annum.

I could not find information about the opening of Baroda R. S. post office and renaming of Baroda Camp post office. I request all the members and readers to communicate with me if additional information is available on the subject.

Publishing History :
First published in Vadophil, Quarterly News Bulletin of Baroda Philatelic Society, No. 87, July, 2001.
In Baroda Times section of The Times of India dated 12th July, 2001 under the title "Tracking Vadodara's First Post Office"
At Stamps of India in March 2002 with the permission of the Author

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