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Gondola unearthed at Lucknow’s 220-year-old Chhatar Manzil, officials say it could be a royal boat

UPSAD officials did not rule out the possibility that it could be a royal boat. They are yet to conclude as to how this mammoth boat got buried in the ground.

lucknow Updated: May 09, 2019 11:04 IST
Oliver Fredrick
Oliver Fredrick
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
chhatar manzil,gondola unearthed at chhatar manzil,lucknow
The 42-ft-long and 11-ft-wide gondola unearthed at Chhatar Manzil in Lucknow.(HT Photo )

Officials of the Uttar Pradesh State Archaeological Department (UPSAD) have unearthed a 42-feet-long and 11-feet-wide gondola (a traditional, flat-bottomed boat) during excavation at the 220-year-old Chhatar Manzil of Lucknow that once served as a palace for the begums (royal women) of Awadh.

UPSAD officials did not rule out the possibility that it could be a royal boat. They are yet to conclude as to how this mammoth boat got buried in the ground.

“How this boat got buried is still a mystery. We are yet to find out if it was due to floods or some other reason,” said director, museum, AK Singh, who holds the additional charge of UPSAD director.

The discovery was made in the late evening hours of Tuesday when the excavators and experts from the Uttar Pradesh Rajkiya Nirman Nigam (UPRNN), which is the constructing agency in the ongoing excavation work, stumbled upon a partially visible wooden structure. It was later confirmed that the wooden structure was a gondola.

This is the third major discovery since May 2017, when UPRNN started the excavation as part of the ongoing Chhatar Manzil restoration and conservation project in which the officials discovered a 15 sq ft room, lying buried beneath the imposing structures that constitute a seraglio (palace complex) of the nawabs of Awadh that once served as the palace for begums. Later, the excavators found a complete storey that was lying buried since ages.

So far, they have gone about 19.5 feet deep revealing the hidden storey of over 200-year-old structure of the era of nawabs. Officials have also discovered pillars, wall brackets, doors and windows that are clear enough to give a hint that the buried structure was meant for living.

Later, they also found two waterways that lead to the structure. Faculty of architecture, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Technical University (AKTU), is the consultancy in the project.

Officials did not rule out the possibility that tbe gondola discovered at Chhtar Manzil could be a royal boat. ( HT Photo )

Speaking about the discovery, UPSAD director AK Singh said, “Initially we thought it was a wooden beam but when we removed the mud, we found that the structure was actually a gondola.” Principal secretary, Culture, Jitendra Kumar visited the site and directed the UPSAD officials to preserve the gondola at the same place. “It doesn’t seem to be in a good condition and shifting it may cause further damage to it. Hence, it is better to preserve the gondola at this place,” said Kumar.

PC Sarkar, a historian who has written books on the Nawabi structures of Lucknow, termed it to be a major discovery which would throw light on the hidden chapters of the history of Awadh.

“Gomti was the main channel for transportation and leisure during the era of Nawabs. Boats of various shapes and sizes, resembling fish, crocodiles, and ‘mor pankh’ (peacock quill) used to ferry in the Gomti. This boat endorses the existence of water transport in Lucknow during the times of Nawabs,” he said.

Also Read | Chattar Manzil to have a ‘treasure trove’ of history

First Published: May 09, 2019 10:54 IST