Sub Jail on the Arani palace complex built by the Marathas will soon be restored back to its old glory!!

Arani, TN,  Sub-jain built by Maratha Jagirdar,
  1. Arani, TN, Maratha palace in ruins, no step taken to restore it

On the outskirts of the town of Arani near vellore, Tamil Nadu lies  dilapidated and poorly managed historical  palace  that was built by the Maratha Jaghirdar in the early part of the 19th century.  The sprawling Sathya Vijaya Nagaram palace or Aranmanai is a heritage structure with elements of Maratha architectural features like tall ceiling arched windows, cast-iron rods, entrances, etc. The three story structure on a 300 acre plot has two sections. The main aranmanai is almost totally damaged and needs to to be repaired and conserved to save the building  The othe block - Queen's quarter is fairly in good shape and some govt. offices are functioning there. 

The sub jail was part of the palace complex that followed British architectural design (stewarts architecture style)  with rounded columns and curved arches over entrances and windows, etc. The ruined palace was built by Jagirdar Venkatanatha Rao Sahib in 1825.  Descendant of Vedhaji Bhaskara Pant, a Maratha Brahmin and  commander in ruler Shaji’s army. Shaji gave Arani and surrounding villages as jagir to Pant during his expedition to south India in 1640. Since then, the town had been under  the control of Maratha Jagirdars till independence. The local rulers led luxurious  life on par with  those some of the Maharajahs and Nawabs. 

Location map. Arani, Tamil

The descendants of the Jahgirdar were powerful zamindars and they collected the revenue from the farmers/ tillers of the land and paid a portion of it as  tax  to  the foxy colonial rulers. Their local chieftain had a jail built on the palace complex  to punish the law breakers, etc. In the colonial time, the British ingeniously used the sub jail to lodge the freedom fighters against their unjust and explorative rule. The erstwhile North Arcot region had many patriots and many of them had spent their time there   

In July 2023 the state government  which is taking serious steps to restore and conserve many listed heritage colonial structures across Tamil Nadu, took a decision to  restore the sub-jail in Arani.  A detailed study t was jointly done by the Department of Prisons and the Tamil Nadu Police Housing Corporation (TNPHC) and  the dilapidated sub-jail will be restored back to old glory by the TNPHC. The projected cost will be Rs. 20 lakh and it might go up if the project gets delayed.  The restoration will follow the old technique to retain the heritage value and source materials that will match those used in the past.

The restoration work will be done with  the help of  experts from Madurai and Ramanathapuram, particularly, with respect to   plastering of the damaged portions like walls and  leaky roof due to overgrowth of vegetation.I do not understand why the ruling ministry  is not taking steps to conserve the historical Arani Aranmanai built by the Maratha jagirdars.  The huge palace is in ruins and may soon become over damaged far beyond restoration. 

The sub jail is located within the sprawling Maratha palace complex and according to The Hindu news paper  if the Proposal is once approved by the State government, the restoration will be completed in a three month period,” 

The colonial building has water seepage problems in many places due to  cracks on its walls, roof , etc primarily caused by overgrowth of vegetation and growth of small plants and roots. The plant roots caused cracks and during the rainy seasons it caused leaks in the ceilings, walls, etc. The seepage had to be taken care of to restore the building and improve its strength and longevity. 

From March 1983  till  October 2013 the undertrials had been lodged here.   As the condition of the building was  dangerous and unsuitable, the sub jail was closed for good. If things go well as per govt. plan, Soon the heritage sub jail will be conserved and  restored to be reused again. As the history should not lose its connectivity with the evolution of growth, the restoration work is a good news for the heritage lovers because it will benefit the posterity.  

The sub-jail with  five lock-ups including two large ones, measuring 250 sq.ft each will be restored with additional facilities. .''The facility can lodge at least 17 persons. Each lock-up has only a toilet and a ceiling fan. No lights and windows. As per norms, a sub-jail is manned by 13 persons including a warden, a cook and a scavenger. Remand prisoners, mostly on petty offences, were lodged in the sub-jail''.