Homi Bhabha's iconic bungalow 'Mehrangir' sold for Rs372 crore
18 June 2014
'Mehrangir', the iconic bungalow of Homi J Bhabha, father of India's atomic energy programme, in Mumbai's plush Malabar Hill, was sold at an auction for Rs372 crore, despite a chorus of demand to turn it into a museum.
The property, which went under the hammer at the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA), its custodian, fetched Rs115 crore more than the reserve price of Rs257 crore. The identity of the bidder, however, was not disclosed.
"As per the request of the winning bidder, the identity will not be disclosed at this stage," NCPA said in a release.
Scientists across the country and employees of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) had rallied in support to save a piece of the legacy of the man credited to be the father of the Indian nuclear programme, and were also willing to donate to do so.
Several of them had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his intervention to stop the public auction while several others have offered part of their own salaries to retain the house.
Bharat Ratna Prof C N R Rao, who has been a science advisor to several PMs, met Modi earlier this month, in a bid to persuade him to intervene and save the ancestral house, which Bhaba had named 'Mehrangir' to honour the memory of his mother Meherbai and father Jehangir.
The three-storey bungalow with a built-up area of over 15,000 sq ft on a plot measuring 1,593 sq m, offers a beautiful view of the sea.
After Bhabha's death in a plane crash 1966, his brother Jamshed, a patron of art and culture, became the custodian of the estate.
On Jamshed's death in 2007, the property was transferred to NCPA, an institution he had nurtured.
Some employees of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) had recently petitioned the Centre and moved the Bombay High Court against the sale and sought the bungalow to be converted into an atomic energy museum.
The high court had on Monday refused to grant a stay against the sale, but posted the matter for hearing on 23 June, saying the auction could be revoked, if required.