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Lucknow: Now, archaeological department plans ‘basement tourism’ at Chhatar Manzil

The state archaeological department is planning to open the newly discovered storey of the twin structures, Chhatar Manzil and Kothi Farhat Baksh, for tourists, once the excavation is complete.

lucknow Updated: Mar 06, 2018 15:41 IST
Oliver Fredrick
Oliver Fredrick
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Lucknow,Chhatar Manzil,Kothi Farhat Baksh
Excavation in progress at Chhatar Manzil in Lucknow. (HT )

The state archaeological department is planning to open the newly discovered storey of the twin structures, Chhatar Manzil and Kothi Farhat Baksh, for tourists, once the excavation is complete. IIT BHU, one of the consultancy agencies for the Chhatar Manzil conservation and restoration project, has also green signalled the idea.

Experts from the structural engineering division of IIT BHU’s civil engineering department said the restoration of the newly excavated storey, which was lying buried under the current structures, would be planned so as to facilitate the movement of tourists. “Visitors will be able to get a glimpse of the ‘buried’ past of the city,” said a member of the special team.

City-based historian Yogesh Praveen applauded the idea. “Basement tourism is a unique concept. Our city has many monuments with basements and their associated stories and myths, all of which will go a long way in attracting tourists,” he said.

Sandeep Singh, project manager, Uttar Pradesh Rajkiya Nirman Nigam (UPRNN), the construction agency for Chhatar Manzil restoration project, said, “Call it a storey or basement -- that is still to be confirmed -- but opening it for public will certainly attract many curious tourists desirous to know more about the city’s past.”

An IIT BHU expert who inspected the over 200-year-old structure said there was a strong possibility of more storeys lying buried under the present structure. Officials of UPRNN agreed and added that a lot more was still to be explored. “The excavation will be on until the base of the structure is unearthed for maintenance and repairs,” they said.

So far, around 255 feet have been dug up. This includes a 15x15 room, and various brackets, walls and pillars -- all going deep into the ground.

The discovery that a whole new storey (or multiple storeys) lay buried beneath the twin structures was made around a couple of months ago when labourers began digging what was then thought to be Chhatar Manzil’s basement.

As the excavation progressed, they were left awestruck. Instead of unearthing the expected foundation, they found pillars going deep into the ground. Similarly, they also unearthed a storey underneath the Kothi Farhat Baksh.

Chhatar Manzil once served as a palace for the rulers of the erstwhile princely state of Oudh and their wives.

Experts associated with the ongoing restoration project said that other Nawabi era structures, including Kothi Darshan Vilas, Gulistan-e-Eram and Kothi Roshan-ud-Daula, and the Residency also had a high potential of becoming ‘basement tourism’ destinations.

First Published: Mar 06, 2018 15:41 IST