Public Spaces

ZIPPING THROUGH AMRITSAR & CHANDIGARH

If you are planning a road trip to the north and then driving through the cities of Amritsar and Chandigarh, we’d say that’s a great idea. Join us as we take you around to marvel at these scenic cities that make driving a pleasure

WORDS: AMOGH PUROHIT

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opular across the world for amazing food, high-energy dances and bountiful fields, Amritsar is a delight to visit. Like all tourists the first instinct is to visit the Harmandir Sahib or popularly known as the ‘Golden temple’. But on your way to the temple, passing through the lively lanes you will be drawn to the attractive shops that bustle with buyers. These shopping and eating friendly streets are a common sight in Amritsar.
Conveniently located on the historic Grand Trunk Road (GT Road), also known as National Highway 1, Amritsar is very well connected by road network of the north and driving down to the city is much simpler.

Especially with the government spending close to Rs 450 million to convert the Amritsar-Jalandhar stretch of the GT Road into four lanes. An elevated road connects the national highway to the Golden Temple just in case you were coming from further away and in a hurry to visit the Temple. Buses run to and fro from many neighbouring cities and towns. Within the city there are cabs, auto-rickshaws and buses that take you around the winding streets.
The Amritsar Metro bus or the BRTS is relatively new and is aimed at reducing traffic and air pollution.
The Government of Punjab has pledged Rs 580 crore for development of the BRTS.

Although work is still in progress in some areas, people have already started loving this new speedy way of getting around the city.
But as we step out of the city, the Amritsar-Sri Ganganagar National Highway (NH-15) is giving commuters a tough time. The 3km stretch has a number of potholes and is always busy with blaring traffic. The highway is an important route to connect to the southern part of the country. The narrow road doesn’t allow buses and trucks to pass.
So if you’re taking this route during peak hours, you’re asking for trouble. And the railway crossing just adds to the frustration of drivers.

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Chances are you’ll be stuck there for hours. We suggest keeping a deck of cards in the glovebox.
But instead if you were ready to drive about 4 hours east, you would reach the beautiful well-planned city of Chandigarh. From gardens for rocks to roses, Chandigarh has something in store for everyone. It is aptly called City Beautiful.
Post independence, committees were set up to plan cities. Chandigarh was one of the earlest planned cities. The master plan was prepared by Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier. A Polish architect called Maciej Nowicki and an American planner, Albert Mayer, laid out the plans. In 2015, BBC called it as the Perfect City in the World in terms of architecture, cultural growth and modernization. It is also cleanest and first smoke-free city in India. Take a bow, Chandigarh.

The city has one of the highest per capita incomes in the country. And, no wonder highest per capita vehicles. Clean roads and public spaces make Chandigarh a pleasure to live. The buzzing nightlife and serenity of nature with trees and lush green spaces all make it as the happiest city according to a survey by LG electronics.
The smooth roads make you feel like a dream. If you love the feeling of open roads and wind splashing in your hair, don’t miss driving down the Geri Route (sector-8, 9, 10). Driving to Zirakpur is one certainly not to be missed. Stop by a dhaba and enjoy cholebhature. Head up north and soon winding through the hills will be an enchanting experience. Throughout the city you will find wide, well-maintained roads that make commuting a pleasure. Traffic is well controlled and going to a neighbouring city is a scenic experience.
So pack your bags and head north. Amritsar and Chandigarh roads help you explore the beautiful cities.

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NATIONAL RAIL MUSEUM

Railways form nerve centre of Indian economy. It has a rich history. Join us as we take you on a joyride to the one place where all the history is preserved with love and care.

WORDS: AMOGH PUROHIT

Chanakyapuri in New Delhi is known for its affluent neighbourhood and for being a diplomatic enclave. But what makes it famous is the National Rail Museum. Hundreds flock daily to this amazing, one-of-its-kind museum, to take a tour and experience the rich history of Indian Railways. Reaching the National Rail Museum is easy by bus, cab, or metro rail.
Its origin dates to the early 70s though the idea of a transport museum was planned as far back as 1962. Thanks to Michael Graham Satow, a rail enthusiast, the museum took shape after foundation stone of the Rail Transport Museum was laid by then President of India VV Giri on October 7, 1971.

Nearly after six years it came to life when the then Minister for Railways Kamlapati Tripathi inaugurated on 1st February 1977.
Originally the Rail Transport Museum was planned as a part of a larger complex covering the history of Railways, Roadways, Airways and Water-ways in India but later developed into a full-fledged National Rail Museum in 1995.
The Museum spread over 11 acres is an elegantly designed octagonal building. There are exhibits housed both indoor and outdoor.
The indoor gallery comprises six display galleries, and a large open display area laid out to replicate the atmosphere of a railway yard. How to go about covering the enormous area of 11 acres, one may ask.

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Nothing to worry as a toy train is at hand to carry you around.
The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. Tickets cost Rs. 50 for adult and Rs. 10 for child and on weekdays and weekends it is double at Rs. 100 for adults and Rs. 20 for children. Tickets for the simulators, virtual coach rides and toy train rides can be bought at respective counters.

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First of its kind museum in the country, it has the largest number of real, life-sized exhibits of train engines and components.
One can see locomotives and coaches from the princely states across the Indian subcontinent and some of the best train engines ever made in India.
It serves as a home to steam engines like the DHR 777 B, the P Class 31652, the Phoenix, to name a few. It also has many diesel and electrical engines including the Prince of Wales Saloon, the Gaekwar Baroda Saloon, the Nilgiri coach and the Viceregal Dining car. One gets the taste of royalty, first hand walking close to the exhibits.

The Patiala State Mono Rail (PSMT) and the John Morris Fire Engine are the rarest operational exhibits of its kind in the world. The Patiala State Mono Rail was built way back in 1907 and was based on the “Ewing System”. Designed by Col. Bowles this mono rail first ran between Bassi and Sirhind 6 miles a day and the unique train consisted of a track of single rail. The main load (almost 95%) is borne by the single rail while the rest is borne by the balancing wheel which runs on the ground.

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This train built by Orenstein and Koppel of Berlin ran until October 1927.
Once cars and buses came the unique mono rail became obsolete.

Luckily an engine and a Chief Engineer’s Inspection car somehow managed to evade being scrapped in the railways scrap yard till 1962. The remains of Patiala State Monorail Trainways was discovered by a railroad historian Mike Satow.

Thereafter, one engine was restored to working order by the Northern Railway Workshop at Amritsar. Chief Engineer’s private inspection car too was reconstructed completely restoring them to running condition. And now they are proud exhibits at the National Rail Museum in New Delhi.
If one wants to celebrate birthday the restaurant inside the museum can be booked for a private party. Meeting room, lawns and auditorium are also available for booking. There is souvenir shop and walk out happily with a scale model of classic steam or diesel engines and coaches.
National Rail Museum is indeed fun going around for all ages. It also teaches us the glorious past of the evolution of Indian Railways. Next time you would want to ride a train for vacation.

NEHRU PLANETARIUM, MUMBAI

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The universe is vast, mysterious and really interesting. Join us as we set you up on a date with the stars at Nehru Planetarium, Mumbai.

The iconic white dome is hard to miss if you are cruising down Worli sea face. Nehru Planetarium, commissioned on 3rd March 1977, is one of Mumbai’s most visited tourist attractions. It is one of the five planetariums in India that are named after India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. These are located in Mumbai, Pune, New Delhi and Bangalore, and in Allahbad as Jawahar planetarium. In fact, the one in Pune was established in 1954 and is Asia’s first planetarium.

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Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, inaugurated the Nehru Planetarium in Mumbai. This cylindrical structure and white dome spectacle is a delight to all stargazers and space lovers. The building was designed by one of India’s most prominent architects, J.M. Kadri. The simplistic yet stunning architecture is a delight to the eyes and makes a proud statement to the timelessness of the late 70s style of architecture. It captures the essence of Mumbai’s inclusivity with the entry fee still being ₹60 for adults and ₹40 for young astronomy enthusiasts. And for a group of 25 or more students, the entry fee is a mere ₹20.
It soon became immensely popular among astronomers and children alike in Mumbai. The planetarium also serves as a center of logical study for students and amateur scientists of astronomy and space science. The planetarium also plays host to various discussions and lectures based on astronomical and cosmological events from time to time.

School kids love to participate in the science quiz contests, astro painting contests, astro poetry and even science elocution. Since its establishment, it has conducted thirty-one astronomical presentations and boasts of being the only astronomical centre, which includes both the concert and the movie auditorium. Even now, shows are conducted on a daily basis. And if it’s the weekend and you haven’t booked a day in advance, chances are the show might be running house full.

The special Planetarium’s sky shows are the quintessential treat for everyone who visits the place and strives for an incomparable learning experience. ‘Tryst and Destiny‘ was the first show and it outlined the stars and constellations like they had donned the sky on the night of 14 August 1947. The second show “Mahatma – The Eternal Light‘ recreated the celestial configuration as on 2nd October 1869, the day Mahatma Gandhi was born combining it with other historic events from his life. Since the very beginning, these shows have mesmerized the visitors. Currently, ‘The Wonders of the Universe‘ and ‘Invaders of Mars‘ are featured. Amidst all the activity, the planetarium houses an art gallery, a restaurant, a library and a cultural centre.
Inside, an exhibit attracts many at the first sight, it allows you to check your weight on each planet of the solar system and the moon. Next, a 14 cubicle exhibit called the ‘Discovery of India’ takes you through the journey of India through the ages highlighting art, philosophy and academics with major architectural and artistic works, photographs and audio visuals. This roomful of history also has a scale model of a tram car, a railway engine, a steam lorry and a supersonic jet. And if you stroll down to the basement, you will find yourself in the middle of a huge marble-paneled auditorium with amazing acoustics and the capacity to comfortably seat at least a thousand people at a time. This auditorium is the usual venue for various classical music concerts, plays, seminars and dance recitals. But what really takes the cake is a 45 minute show called ‘Stars and wonders of the universe’. The show happens every day and in English, Hindi and Marathi.

The planetarium, over the years, has become a platform for aspiring astronomers and has helped build a

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community of people who want to get a closer look at the universe and uncover its mysteries. It also makes special arrangements on different stellar occasions to watch, study and photograph eclipses and other major events like meteoroid showers. Various telescopes and other high-tech astronomical equipment allows any curious kid to explore the depths of the universe. The Digital Planetarium projector, Digistar-3, and Universal Planetarium Projector have showcased the magnificence of the celestial world to over 96 lakh people in 26 years.

Nehru planetarium also has a mini mobile planetarium for people in rural areas to create awareness and keep them updated with all astronomical news.
And if you that’s impressive, wait till you visit the Nehru Centre Library. It has a wide collection of over 30,000 books. These include religion, literature, social science, astronomy, biographies, geography, history, and various other disciplines. A peaceful ambiance, well-equipped cyber-centre, audio-visual facilities, and even a kids section, this library is perfect for a little quiet time with yourself and a book.

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And of course, then there are the various workshops and programmes organised for students, teachers and other professionals that keeps it the hub of intellect and conversation in the city.
Even a walk in the campus is very informative and a one of its kind experience. It is lined with plants and herbs of over 1000 varieties including many rare species. The Nehru Planetarium truly captures the love of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru’s love for kids and will continue to inspire and instill dreams of becoming astronauts and scientists in kids for years to come.

ANNA CENTENARY LIBRARY SUSTAINABLE, LOW-ENERGY BUILDING

Sensitive architectural design and efficient building services solutions have resulted in a sustainable, low-energy building, delivered within a commercially viable budget without compromising aesthetics

WORDS: TILLANA DESAI

THE Anna Centenary Library in Chennai is a state-sponsored library named after the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. It has all the credentials of a landmark project.
The Tamil Nadu government last month allocated Rs5 crore for buying books for the top library. One of Asia’s biggest libraries – located on an eight-acre plot of land in Kotturpuram – the library was opened in 2010.
The state-sponsored Anna library is named after popular Tamil leader and former chief minister C.N.Annadurai. The library has a state-of-the-art auditorium with a seating capacity for 1,200 people, an open air amphitheatre (for 800 persons) and a massive food court.

The library houses a massive 1.5 million books besides newspapers, periodicals, manuscripts for alternatively-abled people, electronic and audio-visual media, computers and internet access. A research laboratory of internationall standards is another key feature.
Interestingly, the project has been awarded the LEED Gold Rating (new construction) by the Indian Green Building Council in recognition of its energy-efficient design with a rating of 43 points.
The detailed and accurate planning principles implemented during the construction of the library have played a key role in determining its sustainability and energy-efficiency.

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Roof overhangs, Pergolas, metal louvres provide distinct architectural features creating an identity for the complex, while cutting off heat and glare

The library block, for example, is located at an angle that allows for maximum daylight from the northeast. The auditorium is located southwards and has fewer openings, enabling both blocks to function independently.
A large expanse of landscaped area in the foreground with overlooking terraces helps cut off noise and provides visual respite. The roof of the auditorium has also been developed as a landscaped amphitheatre taking advantage of the structure and minimising internal heat gain.
The low-energy architecture has been achieved through an environmentally-responsive design, using both passive features and resource-efficient active elements, which have helped achieve an overall energy saving of 28.33 per cent.

• Roof overhangs, Pergolas, metal louvres provide distinct architectural features creating an identity for the complex, while cutting off heat and glare

THE ACTIVE ENERGY EFFICIENT ELEMENTS INCLUDE:
• Materials – solar-efficient glass with an SHGC of 0.2 and VLT of 24 per cent with a U value of 0.9 Btu/hr.ft2oF helps to harness maximum daylight and minimise heat gain. Special over deck insulation of 75 mm thk expanded polystyrene provides a U value of 0.059 Btu/hr.ft2oF for the roof. More than 60 per cent building materials are recycled and locally sourced thus reducing the embodied energy component
• Lighting – an average LPD of 0.6W/ft2 has been achieved by using a combination of LED and CFL lamps.

Actual energy consumption is further reduced by providing individually controlled task lights. Daylight sensors along the periphery and motion sensors in the interior stack areas
• Air-conditioning: Air-cooled chillers with efficient COP, heat recovery wheels, VFDs, VAVs and DCVs controlled through centralised IBMS has helped create an energy efficient airconditioned public building
• Waste water recycling: An annual saving of 65 per cent in fresh water requirement has been achieved by using 100 per cent available grey water for landscape irrigation and flushing (dual plumbing) 100 per cent rain water harvesting through recharge pits and collection sumps and water efficient fixtures complete with sensors

DESIGN FEATURES:
• Appropriate orientation where all reading areas are located in the north and east next to glazed facades
• Thermal buffer zones have been created on the SW – to reduce heat ingress – by locating service cores, non-conditioned spaces and a nine-floor high atrium with outward sloping glass
• Landscaped terraces at several levels including the green open air theatre on the roof of the auditorium and a landscaped courtyard in the heart of the library help create visual relief and reduce the heat gain from the roof

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INDOOR ENVIRONMENT QUALITY
Indoor environment quality in this public building is to be monitored, measured and controlled by use of LOW VOC paints and non-toxic recycled eco-friendly materials from carpets, boards to housekeeping chemicals, bettering ASHRAE requirement for fresh air by 30 per cent and using CO2 sensors and MERV 13 filters for monitoring and controlling air quality.
Interiors are finished with eco-friendly, locally available, recycled materials. Colours, graphics and imagery create a bright and inviting atmosphere for both serious and leisurely reading.

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Spatial planning and interiors of each section are customised to different types of users. Common spaces like lobby and atrium form interactive nodes where both permanent and temporary displays disseminate information on a variety of topics.
Thus, sensitive architectural design and efficient building services solutions have resulted in a sustainable, low-energy building, delivered within a commercially viable budget without compromising aesthetics.

LAUNCH OF GST

‘I am confident of the success of new tax regime’

WORDS: NAMANN PIPARA

IT took more than a decade for India to introduce the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime. GST will replace the existing indirect tax structure in the country, which includes central and state taxes.
The GST Council includes the Union Finance Minister, who is the chairperson, the minister of state for finance, and ministers of finance or taxation of all the Indian states.
GST will be levied on supply of goods or services and all transactions and processes will only be through the electronic mode, ensuring non-intrusive administration.

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There is PAN-based registration and only if the turnover is more than Rs2 million. The new regime gives the option of voluntary registration and deemed registration in three days. Input tax credit will also be available on taxes paid on all procurements (except a few specified items).
The tax is being touted as the single-biggest tax reform since the country won Independence in 1947. It is expected to boost India’s GDP by two per cent.
The author, who is a tax expert, a Chartered Accountant and Partner in Pipara & Co LLP (which has offices in Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Surat and Delhi), explains the main features of the new GST regime. Excerpts:

MAJOR BENEFICIARIES OF THE NEW TAX REGIME:

I believe with the rating system under GST, to prevent locking in of working capital and a hassle free trade – those entities that are up to date with compliances and maintain a high rating would be preferred by large businesses and corporates as they have multiple vendors to deal with.

Uniquely, if the logistics industry plays it right, with the advent of GST on stock transfers, they could work around a model of having their own spaces in between destinations to allow businesses more decision making time.

Additionally, service providers that only got credit of excise on capital inputs and input service tax would now be able to avail inputs on day to day payments on stationery, office appliances such as ACs, printers etc.

SUCCESS OF THE GST SYSTEM:

Stability and easy adaptability are imperative to make GST successful. All states would be unsure of their share of collected GST for the initial few months and hence I don’t think states would rush for additional levy or concessions soon. Not to mention that would beat the very essence of GST.

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DELAY IN INTRODUCING GST:

It takes a lot of infrastructure and meticulous planning to adopt a new tax regime. With demonetisation, RERA and other changes, the business environment has been challenging lately.
Such has been the case since quite some time now with the changes in import policies, export benefits, SEZ etc. I think there would never be a good time for a change this big and hence when adopted is appreciated.

IMPACT ON OVERALL TAX REVENUES:
Time can only tell how the collection between state and centre is impacted; however, the very purpose of GST is to plug all revenue losses to the government from unaccounted business transactions.
With the same transaction being mapped under various returns by the buyer and seller it can be traced

to the last leg of consumer’s purchase – which would mean that the overall revenues should increase.

ACCEPTANCE BY CONSUMERS:

Consumers are driven by need or want of a particular product/service. With the advent of Krishi Kalyan Cess, Swach Bharat Cess, service tax being made applicable (albeit at a reduced rate) on food or higher duties levied on fuel or VAT levied on constructed property transactions, our consumers have taken the brunt with a smile. Same would be the case with GST.

IMPACT ON BUREAUCRACY:

one hand there is a lot of transparency in transactions between businesses, which should indicate that the sales tax establishment would have an easy time assessing businesses and

there wouldn’t be many disagreements.

On the other hand the complicated rules of credit and the powers given to all officers to audit the books of GST registered businesses could go against the intent of law.

INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE:

With France being the first country to introduce GST and Canada having a dual GST regime (similar to India) about 160 countries have a GST/VAT regime. Various countries have been struggling to rationalise the rate structure as the same is the most crucial factor.
Indian businesses have been the driving force of the country’s growth story for decades and have successfully emerged out of recent events such as demonetisation. I am very confident that India owing to its entrepreneurial spirit will adapt the new tax regime successfully within reasonable time.

INS KURSURA, VISAKHAPATNAM

Rare to see a museum not being firmly situated on land. But INS Kursura Submarine Museum is not something for showcasing a collection of artefacts. This Asia’s first submarine museum in Visakhapatnam is itself a wonderful artefact.

WORDS: AMOGH PUROHIT

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Visakhapatnam, fondly called Vizag, holds many surprises and the submarine museum is one of them. The museum, also known as Smritika, is located on the Ramakrishna Beach. Earlier the museum was a prowling killer submarine called INS Kursura, a Russian built vessel. In 2001 it was converted into a Submarine Museum. The INS Kursura is 91.3 m long with a beam of 7.5 m and a draught of 6 m. She stands longer than the world’s largest airplane, the Antonov An-225 Mirya. Her sheer size is impressive.
She was India’s fifth submarine. She has three shafts, each with a six-blade propeller and powered by three diesel engines, each with 2,000 horsepower. Her maximum speed was 16 knots (30 km/h) when on surface, 15 knots (28 km/h) when submerged and 9 knots (17 km/h) while snorkelling.
Her 10 torpedo tubes carried 22 Type-53 torpedoes. Alternatively, she could lay 44 mines instead of carrying the torpedoes. She also had a snoop tray and I-Band radar for surface search. Commissioned on 18 December 1969 she went on to serve the nation for 31 straight years including the Indo-Pakistan war in 1971. She was decommissioned on February 27, 2001. Despite being a decommissioned submarine, she still receives the navy’s “Dressing Ship” honour which is usually awarded only to active ships.

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During the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, Kursura operated in the Arabian Sea. She was given the patrol duties at two designated areas before the war started, but was ordered to operate under two restrictions:

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she was not to cross demarcated shipping corridors and she could attack a target only after positive identification. Her task was to sink any Pakistani naval warships and to sink merchant shipping only when specifically ordered. General patrol and surveillance was her forte.

INS Kursura has travelled 73,500 nautical miles or 1,36,100 kilometres which is greater than diameter of Planet Earth, to put things into perspective. While in service she had been to many countries including Russia, Sweden, Mauritius, Spain, Ghana and Pakistan – both as a war time machine of destruction and messenger of peace.
She now rests on the shores of Visakhapatnam. Admiral V Pasricha envisioned the submarine to become a museum.

To move the submarine to the current location, it took staggering 18 months and around Rs 5,50,00,000. Six retired naval personnel serve as guides and another one as the curator. After the Hudhud Cyclone, INS Kursura faced the threat of being flooded.
But just then the state government intervened and after extensive repairs, made her ready for the grand opening to public.

India’s Premier Defence Lab, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, National Ship Design and Research Centre and Visakhapatnam Port Trust chipped in bringing the submarine on to the shore. It was inaugurated by the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh Chandrababu Naidu on 9 August 2002, and opened to public on August 24, 2002.

Kursura has the distinction of being one of the very few submarine museums to retain its originality. The museum lets you walk through the life of the Indian Navy personnel.

The guided tour takes you through the various chambers and rooms including the cramped sleeping bunks and dining areas.

Only two cooks are assigned for the entire crew who work in a cramped kitchen smaller than a telephone booth. And despite her huge size, she is not big on luxury.

Back in the day, 77 men on board shared two wash basins and two toilets for months at a time when she was out at sea.

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But even today, she has over 3 lakh visitors every year. Out of the Rs 10 million revenue generated every year by the museum, Rs 8 million is used for the submarine’s maintenance. During the first four months of the museum’s operation, it was visited by about 93,000 people. Daily visitors usually range between 500 and 600 and shoot up to 1,500 during tourist season.
Major refurbishment was carried in December 2007 to repair her hull’s corrosion. New steel plates cost of Rs 1.5 million. Looking at the number of visitors she gets daily it was worth it.
Museum is open during the day except Mondays. And entrance tickets cost Rs 40. At that price one can spend good two hours exploring the Indian Navy like never before.