''Haumayun Mahal'' part of Chepauk palace, Chennai - restored almost.

.Haumayun Mahal, Chennai restoration work. indiatimes.com

The Chepauk palace, official residence of the Nawab of Arcot from 1768 to 1855  was  built over an area of 117 acres of land  surrounded by a wall close to Fort St. George close to the beach.   Both Khalas Mahal (also Kalas Mahal), a two storied structure on the south side and  Haumayun Mahal with a single story building on the northern part were  integral parts of the historical palace . Khalas Mahal  was built in 1768 with impressive façade  and minareted entrances in the south and the west. It was built by British engineer Paul Benfield  and is considered one of the first examples of the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture.

Khalas mahal, Chepauk palace.Chennai. thehindu.com

Khalas mahal, Chepauk palace.Chennai.  timesofindia.indiatimes.com

The Haumayun Mahal built between 1868 -1871 was an interesting building  provided with a Durbar hall in the middle of a fine  towering dome reaching  roughly  to  the height of a second floor.

 100 years ago. Chepauk palace, Madras (Chennai)Yahoo newscanada.com

Chepauk palace, tower between two mahals. trekearth.com

Above image:  Chepauk Palace, Chennai.  Architecturally,   landmark building  complex  in  India (in the Indo-Saracenic style).  Completed in 1768 CE,  the original four-domed Khalas Mahal and the Humayun Mahal had a tower added between them in 1855. It is this tower which you observe in the photo. The complex is just south of the Kuvam River and close to  the  famous Chepauk Cricket Stadium, where test matches  were played.......

 With respect the Haumayun Mahal, considering its size, configuration and  large  masonry dome,  architect Robert Chisholm, entrusted with the job to resign it by Gov, Napier,  would have  taken much time to design it. Governor Napier of the Presidency of Madras was keen to locate the revenue department  there. Being conversant with nuances of architecture of the building and its matching its utility, Chisholm  made a difficult  design change. He created  an extra space by adding  first floor rooms  in the place where there was dome. So the beautiful dome had to go for ever. The Haumayun Mahal has 9 halls on the ground floor and 4 on the first floor.  

To maintain connectivity Chisholm  brought both mahals together by integration,  constructing a connecting corridor.  He redesigned  Khalsa by adding an impressive eastern entrance facing the beach. The new entrance forms the façade of the square block of the new  building linking  with the mahal. The building housed the records office.  Linking the two mahals is the 75 foot tall square structures called  Records Tower - 75-foot tall masonry structure  with  dome and minarets. This work was completed in 1870. Even today one can recognize the tall tower of the old Chepauk palace. 

 As for Khalas Mahal, it was restored in 2017and  the govt. spent Rs.14 crores for restoration. In 2012 a part of Khalas Mahal was ravaged by fire. Spread over 22,000 sq. ft.  the conservation engineers had put in hard work with meticulous care  in restoring the windows and doors  without disturbing their heritage elements. of the heritage structure.

The Haumayun Mahal, in particular of the Chepauk palace suffered years of wonton neglect and official apathy. Later it was left languishing in a dilapidated state for years. Not even yearly repairs were  carried out on the building that is supposedly the first  Indo-Saracenic structure in the world. On top of it it was ravaged by a fire accident in 2013 and the cause of fire is not known and it  could be due to short-circuit. After several appeals from the heritage lovers and people,  the government took  a decision to restore the damaged part of the palace. The work got delayed due to redtapism and change of governments every five years. 

 The big project of restoring the remarkable Haumayun Mahal on the Wallajah road  has been going on some time  since February 2019 and the conservation engineers, in order to retain its heritage value and elements, are using the old construction technique and have sourced the construction materials matching those in the past.   Madras terrace roofing and Mughal wall plastering or Theervai plastering to achieve the serene white shade, are part of conservation work to retain the old splendor. The lime-mortar was specially well ground in a traditional way using the bulls to rotate the grinding  roller to plaster Haumayun Mahal’s walls. According to experts  the traditional methods of grinding mill with 4 to 5 ton roller stone  (with circular stone embedded  channel) rotated by bulls produces better lime-mortar  that has  strength, longevity and superior adhesion, essential for long life of wall plastering. Lime, sand, white stone, egg whites, and curd were also used in the restoration work to enhance strength and shine. 

old Haumayun awaiting restoration Mahal indiatimes.com

There are nearly as many as 190  teak wood doors on the ground and first floors.  it is said the conservationists follow the  techniques of 82-year-old heritage conservation specialist  late S. Paramasivam who played a vital role  in the conservation of  many heritage buildings, including Madras High Court and Senate House in University of Madras.

According to a report by 'The Hindu' dated 03 January 2022 the work was to be completed by August, 2022.  The estimated cost of the project on the renovation of the Haumayun  Mahal is Rs.41.12 crore. 

The 250-year-old Haumayun Mahal built in Indo-Saracenic style by architect Chisholm  was redesigned to have additional space on the first floor on the order of  Madras presidency government to house   Revenue department’s headquarters and  various State government offices, including Horticulture and Revenue, functioning in the building.

Since the wake of a fire mishap way back in in 2005 the building has been kept vacant mainly for renovation and restoration work. The Haumayun Mahal is a mammoth building covering  over 76,567 sq.ft.