Know all about the rich history of Farhat Baksh Kothi, core of Chattar Manzil in Lucknow
Originally called the 'Martin Villa', Farhat Baksh Kothi was built by the founder of La Martiniere, Major General Claude Martin. Constructed in 1781, this classic representation of Indo-French architecture has extended today to make the historically rich Chattar Manzil in Lucknow.
Situated on the banks of river Gomti, the palace has sheltered the most prominent of history makers, from Claude Martin to Nawab Saadat Ali Khan. Here's a brief glimpse at the heritage marvel standing tall in Lucknow's Qaiserbagh.
Fortress of hope & fortune
Initially a two-storey structure, the Farhat Baksh Kothi was known to have some 4,000 books in its large hall upstairs. It is said that the Frenchman Claude Martin was fond of reading and the cool air from Gomti provided the calm and comfortable environment to do just that.
He stayed at the palace until the end of his life, after which it is known that, for a brief period during serious illness, Nawab Saadat Ali Khan took refuge here. Legend has it that the Nawab was so at peace here, healing quickly, he changed the name of the place to Farhat Baksh Kothi (translating to a place that provides good fortune and luck). It was also occupied by Wajid Ali Shah and became his residence sometime after this.
Thereafter, it became a palace for the rulers of Awadh and their families. However, it is interesting to note that the place is also connected to the 1857 Rebellion and served as a fort for Indian revolutionaries. It is also known that a portion of the building was destroyed by the British during the war.
Expansion to Chhatar Manzil
It is said that Nawab Saadat Ali Khan began expanding the Farhat Baksh Kothi, in the name of his mother Chhatar Kunwar (thus, called Chhatar Manzil). However, it was completed by his son and Awadh king Ghazi-ud-Din Haider after his death. His successor, Nasir-ud-Din Haidar Shah also made additions to embellish the palace.
Chattar Manzil, a grand monument today, reflects unique Nawab-era architecture. Its umbrella-shaped dome (also, why it is called 'chattar') is unique to this day. It also encompasses a decorous diwankhana, numerous cellars, elegant arches and tunnels.
After the sepoy mutiny, the British converted the place into a club. Did you know that post India's Independence, the structure was used as the Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI)? Now, the historic palace lies under Archaeological Department of India and is being renovated.
Emanating old world charm and glorious Awadhi vibes, the Chattar Manzil, along with the Farhat Baksh Kothi that it expanded from, stands as a unique identity of Lucknow. Open to visitors and tourists between 10 AM and 5 PM, the site is easily accessible in Qaiserbagh.