Left neglected, Indore museums become relics of bygone past | indore | Hindustan Times
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Left neglected, Indore museums become relics of bygone past

The Indore’s museums, which are supposed to be the repository of its ancient heritage, have gone to seed. Plagued by numerous issues, the structures have become nearly as dilapidated as the relics they are supposed to safeguard.

indore Updated: Jul 17, 2016 19:09 IST
Indore’s museums
Seepage is a major problem at Indore’s Lal Bagh Palace.(Aditya Vohra/HT photo)

The Indore’s museums, which are supposed to be the repository of its ancient heritage, have gone to seed. Plagued by numerous issues, the structures have become nearly as dilapidated as the relics they are supposed to safeguard.

Take, for instance, the Lalbagh Palace. The stately home of the Holkars, which was a symbol of everything the city once considered grand, now bears a dilapidated look. “The government hired 125 of us to maintain the place (in 1988), but only 35 are left to take care of the entire property now. Most of us are yet to receive our salaries,” said a guard.

Plagued by water seepage and maintenance issues, the entire first floor of the property – once admired by architects and home designers alike for its grand entrance gate, majestic carpets and lavish banquet hall – lies in a shambles. The furniture is falling apart, and no cleaner strolls around the place with a feather duster. What’s more, the place doesn’t even have a gardener to tend to its once-regal lawns.

“We have written to the administration on several occasions, asking them to recruit people. But it is yet to happen,” said another employee.

Sadly, even a meeting held by the divisional commissioner with the sub-district magistrate and historians a month ago to discuss renovation plans doesn’t seem to have helped. “We have a beautiful property here. The gate of the palace is a replica of that at the Buckingham Palace, dating back 130 years. My only fear is that by the time they start restoring the place, it will be too late,” said Rakesh Kumar, one of the visitors to Lalbagh Palace.

The case is similar with Rajwada Palace, which was recently in the news after one of its structures collapsed due to heavy rain. Renowned for its unique design, the structure exhibits a fusion between the Mughal and Maratha style of architecture.

However, anybody who visits the palace now won’t be able to admire the beauty that surrounds him. In fact, just venturing past the first floor – which has turned into a home for stay animals – could seem like a daunting task.

‘Extensive renovation work is underway’

Hindustan Times caught up with Indore commissioner Sanjay Dubey to check on steps being taken to renovate the Rajwada and Lalbagh palaces. An extract:

Both Rajwada and Lalbagh are in a very bad state. What steps are being taken by the local administration to remedy this?

First and foremost, all these places come under the supervision of the State Archeological Department. Since the headquarters are based in Bhopal, the government has appointed the local authority to look after these properties. The local administration works as a bridge, letting the department know what problems need to be fixed. Extensive renovation work is already underway.

Around 125 employees were appointed to maintain Lalbagh Palace when it was acquired by the government in 1988. The number has now come down to a mere 35. Rajwada also needs more maintenance personnel. Why aren’t more people being employed for maintenance work?

Hiring people is the state department’s job. However, people can still be employed on a contractual basis.

Going by the condition of both these places, how long will it take to renovate them?

It’s a long and tedious process. One needs to be really careful while dealing with heritage properties. For instance, the cloth on the chairs at Lalbagh Palace hasn’t been changed because we are trying to find the same fabric used in that era. These things are at least 100 years old – you don’t have the same craftsmen these days, which makes things difficult.

Compared to other heritage properties, Rajwada and Lalbagh palaces do not have guides to provide tourists with historical information. Are you planning to appoint guides in the near future?

The information provided by guides is not very reliable. Instead, we plan to provide audio guides that will dispense accurate facts and figures. We have already listed out information for the audio guides, and will bring them out soon.