Lucknow: Underground tunnel, waterway discovered at Chattar Manzil | lucknow | Hindustan Times
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Lucknow: Underground tunnel, waterway discovered at Chattar Manzil

A team of conservationists from the Government College of Architecture have discovered a 350 feet long tunnel and a waterway at the French architectural masterpiece — Chattar Manzil Palace — while carrying out conservation work.

lucknow Updated: Oct 05, 2015 16:59 IST
Richa Srivastava
Inner chambers on either sides of the tunnel are being examined to make further discoveries.
Inner chambers on either sides of the tunnel are being examined to make further discoveries. (Deepak Gupta/HT Photo )

A team of conservationists from the Government College of Architecture have discovered a 350 feet long tunnel and a waterway at the French architectural masterpiece — Chattar Manzil Palace — while carrying out conservation work.

The tunnel connects the Chattar Manzil Palace complex to the Gomti river and also indicates the water route from the palace.

Depth of the tunnel and the numerous inner chambers on either of its sides are being examined and the conservationists hope to make further discoveries.

“There are a number of chambers on both sides of the tunnel that have been closed using modular bricks. It appears that they were blocked either during the British period or by the Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI). We would open all such chambers to see what’s there,” said Kumar Kartikey, a conservation architect associated with the college.

The conservation experts said they have found a link to the existence of a double basement in the building. “Further digging may highlight multiple basements,” they said.

Confirming the theory that the nawabs used water routes to travel from the palace and back, the team has found staircases connecting the palace to the water in the tunnel.

“This indicates that the nawabs would get down the staircases and board small boats that ferried them to different places,” said Kartikey.

The team had begun the first phase of conservation work nearly a month ago but the tunnel was discovered only last week. It is now searching for inter-connections in the tunnel that are gradually emerging with the cleaning exercise.

The lakhori roofs of the tunnel are proof of its authenticity. Also, the beautiful hanger hooks and brackets on the roof highlight the architectural marvel of those times, said Kartikey.

“There’s a need for a detailed project report for the building’s historic connection, restoration and reuse,” he added.

The team also found an idol of lord Krishna in the tunnel. “Nawab Wajid Ali Shah was fond of lord Krishna and would indulge in ‘raas leelas’. So this idol could have some connection to the nawab,” said Qazi Saifur Rasool, a final year student of architecture involved in the project.

Anupam Garg, who was part of the team that did research on the building’s architecture and the changes in it with times, says, “The aura of Farhat Baksh (part of the palace complex) is associated with the river. Taikhanas (basements) served as miniature dockyards for Maj Gen Claude Martin (who built them) and subsequently the nawabs who lived there later.”

“The main entrance to the kothi from the riverside was the waterway. Then dispersion took place through the first taikhana.

But as the river changed its course and siltation started, the taikhanas went out of function and the main entrance was created on the opposite side of the kothi at ground level,” added Garg. Architecturally, these waterways help keep the palace cool in summers and warm in winters, he said.

The conservationists feel that the tunnel cleaning will help revive the traditional waterworks and create a new attraction for tourists.