June, 2016

Lucknow : British era mansion lies neglected, tenants seek government help

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Credits : Oliver Fredrick/HT

At a time when promotion of tourism and restoration of heritage buildings is one of the top priorities of the state government, a unique Nawabi-era mansion is lying neglected. Situated on Beldari Lane in Lucknow’s Lalbagh area, historians claim, ‘Badi Manzil’ or Soldiers’ Mansion.

It is unique in a sense that it bears huge murals and carvings resembling armed soldiers. While some historians insist the building was meant to house British soldiers. The murals and carvings of the building are falling apart, the stucco work is hardly visible as multiple coatings of lime wash and cemented plaster has been done over it repeatedly over the years. The interiors too are in a shambles.

The building has beautiful sal wood staircase and door frames that are all broken. The iron grills and railings have lost their sheen and are out of the grooves because of the modifications carried out by inhabitants. “Most part of the Badi Manzil is occupied by tenants who are living here since Partition. They haven’t spent a penny on its maintenance,” a local said.

One of the families, who claim to be residing here since last three generations, said instead of selling, they would support its restoration. “Why can’t it be restored and considered as a heritage building as the government did in other cities?” said Shobhit Chopra, one of the tenants.

“The building is too huge to be maintained by individuals. It spreads over 25,000 square feet area and has over a dozen huge halls and king-size rooms,” said Shobhit. If the historians are to be believed, the mansion was erected by the second King of Oudh Nasir-ud-Din Haidar during his short tenure (1827 to 1837). “In a kind gesture towards Britishers, Nawab Haider got the mansion constructed to house British soldiers,” says Yogesh Praveen, a historian.