Lucknow is a city full of hidden treasures. Treasures that owing to our rich history, have been left for us by Mughals, British and the Nawabs alike. We could not have asked for a more culturally rich, diverse, grilling, yet worth-remembering past. We, in this side of the world, take pride in what we call ours, the city, its mix of culture- the ganga-jamuni tehzeeb, the nawabiyat and the modernity, we’ve embraced it all, we love it all.
Yet, there are things that even we with the intense passion for everything other-worldly, everything-pristine, do the sin of forgetting, ignoring and often just letting-go. Much like we treat things, we often treat our heritage. Another victim of the ignorance, the Butler Palace, has withered away longing for human touch.
Built in 1915 for the Deputy Commissioner of Avadh, Spencer Harcourt Butler by Raja Mehmoodabad, the palace served as a British residence and then the personal property of the heir of Raja Mehmoodabad.
During the war of 1965 the property was declared ‘enemy property’ as India went into war with Pakistan. After which it was used by the government, served as a hideout for drug addicts and was even left to the devices of thieves who destroyed the property trying to unscrew the brass hinges off the door. Sometime in between, handed back to the Raja of Mehmoodabad and then taken back by the Indian government in 2010, after that the palace has been an abandoned mess.
Apart from being strung in a long drawn legal battle, the palace is known for being a singularly majestic mansion with a garden sprawling wild and a lake stagnant with water flooding every monsoon.
Built in the Rajputana style of architecture, Butler Palace is the only monument in Lucknow which showcases the architecture and the elegance that the Rajput builders of Rajasthan had. The place is crowned with domed structures, crafted panels, arched windows, made to maintain ample air flow with high ceiling walls-dripping with elegance.
Though, it wasn’t long ago that the Chhatar Manzil was taken under the archeological department’s wing and is still to the day being restored; floors found underground and mysteries being solved.
The Butler palace too needs to be looked after, in a similar fashion. It needs to be restored, let’s hope that the archeological department turns towards the mansion soon enough.