Conservation architect chosen by PWD to submit estimates to govt. in a few days

Nearly 14 months after Kalas Mahal was ravaged in a fire, the 18th-century example of Indo-Saracenic architecture in the city is witnessing moves towards early restoration.

In a few days, the conservation architect chosen by the Public Works Department (PWD) is to submit estimates to government officials for restoration and reconstruction of the historic structure.

Sources in the department said all efforts will be made to get Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s approval at the earliest so that bids can be floated for the project in a month or so.

Early in January, the department chose architect Ravi Gundu Rao for the task of preparing detailed drawings and estimates. On January 18, the architect’s firm submitted initial drawings and a month later, detailed drawings.

A committee, comprising Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority’s chief planner, dean of the School of Architecture and Planning and two senior officials of the PWD including the Chief Engineer, is in place to scrutinise the architect’s drawings and estimates.

The sources say the experience that the department will gain by restoring and reconstructing Kalas Mahal will stand them in good stead for undertaking similar heritage conservation projects in future. The department has taken this much time to complete the preliminary work as it is, for the first time, going to implement such a project, they said.

Built by the eighth Nawab of the Carnatic Muhammad Ali Wallajah (1749-1795) in 1768, Kalas Mahal and Humayun Mahal form part of the Chepauk Palace, the official residence of Nawabs till 1855, according to a website on the Prince of Arcot.

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