Raj Bhavan visitors get a ride in solar powered vehicle: Maharashtra Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao
Beginning this week, visitors to Raj Bhavan, the residence of the Maharashtra Governor in Malabar Hill, have been able to roam around its famed walking trail in a solar, battery-operated car. The Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation acquired a small vehicle after Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao decided that visitors should have the option of an additional mode of transport.
“The Governor introduced solar-powered vehicles in Tamil Nadu when he was holding charge there. He decided to introduce them here as well,” says Umesh Kashikar, the Governor’s spokesperson. Earlier this week, the first batch of visitors was able to experience Raj Bhavan’s ecology seated in the 15-seater car.
“Earlier, whenever we received old visitors who were not able to walk through the whole trail, we would take them around in our own battery operated car. But that one is very small and can only seat four people,” said Kashikar, adding that with the new car, elderly visitors are able to take in all the sights. The two-and-a-half-kilometre trail begins at the 150-foot tall tricolour and a lawn where the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru unveiled the map of Maharashtra in 1950.
The car then makes its way past a narrow road with sloping hills on one side and the sea on another, as signs reminding drivers that the speed limit is 20 kilometres per hour flash by. Pointing to another sign, Kashikar says, “Nowhere else will you read a road sign that says ‘drive slowly and be careful of peacocks’.”
The vehicle stops at a specially designed peacock enclosure called Mayur Vihar. “It is very hard to spot peacocks here unless you arrive early morning. They do not stay in the enclosure and move about,” says Kashikar. The car’s rectangular dimensions prevent it from moving forward on to the final stretch that opens into Raj Bhavan’s rear entrance. “The car can go ahead, but it won’t be able to turn back,” explains Kashikar. Instead, the vehicle takes visitors to the final stops on the trail, an elevated deck called the Sunrise Point that offers panoramic views.
“We lay mats here for early morning visitors who want to practise yoga,” he says.
The trail ends at the closed door behind which lies a 150-metre long British-era bunker which was discovered last year. “We are working on the bunkers and will open them to the public in six to eight months,” says Kashikar.