The mystery of the city’s iconic Chhatar Manzil deepened further on Thursday when labourers at work there discovered a storey of the building lying buried under it.
Uttar Pradesh Rajkiya Nirman Nigam — the agency undertaking the Chhatar Manzil’s beautification work – termed the discovery as one of the major findings so far.
Officials said the discovery was made when labourers began to dig the building’s basement and, what they unearthed, left them astonished.
Instead of the foundation, which was being dug in order to strengthen it, the labourers found pillars going deep inside the ground, revealing another storey of the imposing structure that once served as a palace for the rulers of Oudh and their begums.
“It’s altogether a thrilling experience, unearthing a portion of Chhatar Manzil and Kothi Farhat Baksh that was never seen or known to the world,” said Vishnu Dev, an employee of the restoration firm, which UPRNN has hired to carry out the restoration task. Dev had supervised the ‘excavation’.
Officers, excited over the discovery, had picked two points to dig. One at the 18th century edifice Chhatar Manzil and the other at Kothi Farhat Baksh, situated adjacent to it. The over 200-year-old Chhatar Manzil was first to witness the ‘scooping’ task.
“Taking all precautions and going strictly by archaeological norms, we began with Chhatar Manzil, where we discovered artistically-carved sand stone brackets, which are generally situated at the top of each storey and used to rest sheds. But we found these beneath the earth,” said Dev.
Other than the brackets, the excavators also found several pillars going deep inside the earth, giving clear indication of the presence of another storey inside. “We don’t know deep it is but further excavation will reveal the whole structure of the Chhatar Manzil that was lying buried for the past several decades,” he added.
Said to be established by major general Claude Martin in 1781, Kothi Farhat Baksh was another structure to witness the ‘trenching’ task.
“Similar to Chhatar Manzil, here too pillars, with beautiful stucco work, were unearthed from inside the ground. So far we have dug around 10 feet and are still going on,” he added.
UPRNN called the excavation work a ‘scientific investigation’.
“We are on with scientific investigation that indeed has revealed astonishing facts that were lying buried since years. We are going to constitute an investigating committee that will include officials from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), State Archaeology Department and Abdul Kalam Technical University (AKTU) to further investigate the findings,” said Sandeep Singh, project manager, UPRNN.
Singh, however, did not deny the possibility of discovery of another storey of both the buildings buried in the earth. He said it is too early to conclude, “But the findings, indeed, are astonishing.”