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132-year-old tunnel discovered at JJ Hospital in Mumbai

The 200-metre-long tunnel found at Mumbai’s JJ Hospital one of the oldest in the city (Pics. Courtesy ANI)

Mumbai’s well-known and oldest hospital in the city was in news for the discovery of a 132-year-old British era tunnel.

The 200-metre-long tunnel was found in the Government hospital when water leakages in the premises were being inspected. The foundation stone in it mentions 1890.

Intrigued by a hole in the surface, Dr. Arun Rathod, a Resident Medical Officer during the inspection, decided to explore it. Talking to Hindustan Times he said: “There have been talks about an underground tunnel below the building. One of the air ventilators in the building had a tiny opening which we thought of exploring and it led to a 40×40 feet underground area.”

JJ Hospital Tunnel3
The entrance to the 132-year-old tunnel in JJ Hospital

The Dean of the institution, Dr Pallavi Saple, who organises heritage walks and is working on museum and doing restoration work said the building under which the tunnel was found used to be delivery ward and treated women and children. At present there is a nursing college there. Saple added archaeological department had been informed about the tunnel.

Sharing details of the tunnel she said: “It is like a chamber, probably a refuge area. We have informed the archaeological department as it is a heritage structure. We cannot explore it on their own from here on. We feel the chamber leads somewhere.”

JJ Hospital Tunnel2
The passage in the tunnel

It is said the underground tunnel served as a safe passage to transfer patients from one building to the other. According to Dr. Sunil Pandya, writer of books on Grant Medical College and Sir JJ Hospital observed that the building at present was then an obstetric department where deliveries took place while next to it was the gynaecology and children’s ward. The tunnel is said to connect the two.

In 1980 this tunnel had been noticed by Dr Mohan Algotar, retired deputy dean and professor of surgery, at GMC and JJ Hospital.

It was in March 30, 1843 the foundation stone of Grant Medical College was laid and it became operational in 1845 admitting first batch of eight students. When Sir Jamsetjee Jejeebhoy donated Rs.1 lakh, the foundation stone for Sir JJ Hospital was laid on January 3, 1843.