Shaping the Future

The ship-shaped Suraksha Bhawan houses the various institutes that provide a holistic training to BSF personnel to meet the challenges faced by India

Suraksha Bhawan constitutes the administrative centre of the BSF Academy
Suraksha Bhawan constitutes the administrative centre of the BSF Academy

As one enters the sprawling Suraksha Bhawan, the heart of the Border Security Force (BSF) Academy in Madhya Pradesh, an interesting story emerges about the architecture of the building. After World War I, Maharaja Jiwaji Rao Scindia, the ruler of Gwalior state, was invited as an observer to the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in France. During his visit to France, he happened to see a building shaped like an anchored ship with multi-layered decks. Extremely fascinated by the architecture of the building, he decided to construct a similar one in his kingdom, and use it for retreats and other recreational purposes. As soon as he returned to India, the search for land began and finally Tekanpur, a small village located 30 km from Gwalior, was zeroed in for this ambitious construction. To realise his dream, Scindia commissioned a Spanish architect to design the retreat. By joining two mountains, a massive embankment (a 1875 metres long and 17.7 metres high dam) was created for this purpose. On this embankment, Scindia’s vision of a perfect recreational getaway came into existence in the Thirties.

However, after India became independent in 1947, the changes affected rulers of all princely states, most of whom were close to the British. Later, when the princely states were integrated into the Indian Union, the government seized most of their lands and promised to continue their privileges as well as provide them an income known as the Privy Purse. Subsequently, the government abolished the Privy Purse.

K.F. Rustumji, the then inspector general of police (IGP) in Madhya Pradesh (IGP was the highest rank in police at that point of time), was keeping a close watch on these developments. When he was selected to raise the BSF in 1965, he negotiated with Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia to acquire this property for the BSF. She agreed to give away the land for a nominal price of Rs 6, 41,000. After that, more land was procured from the Madhya Pradesh government and the training institute was formed in November 1966 on a sprawling 2,923 acres including 643 acres of lake area.

Today, the ship-shaped building hosts the offices of the director, deputy director, the adjutant, and various top administrative officers. Over the years, government has developed infrastructure around Suraksha Bhawan, which now constitute various training units of the academy.

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