Minor fire at 246-year-old Humayun Mahal in Chennai

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.

Updated - July 26, 2014 03:46 pm IST

Published - July 26, 2014 03:42 pm IST - CHENNAI

The 246-year old Humayun Mahal, part of the Chepauk complex caught fire in Chennai on Saturday noon.  Careless and negligent attitude by the officials of the government departments housed in the heritage structure led to this mishap, the second in a heritage building in the last month.

According to Fire and Rescue Services Personnel, the fire broke out in the heritage structure, part of the Directorate of Agriculture, at 12.15 p.m. The fire department received the fire call at 12.29 p.m. Fire had engulfed two rooms in the ground floor and after an hour’s struggle, the fire was put out. 

“There were old papers. Wood was also stocked inside the rooms,” said a fire department official involved in the operation. The building, located close to Kalas Mahal, suffered damages when its roof collapsed in September last year. 

Classified as a Grade-I heritage structure built in the Indo-Saracenic style, a portion of it crumbled due to ageing and weakening of wooden beams. 

PWD officials, however, say that the heritage structure was cordoned off and estimates had been sent to the government to renovate the heritage structure on the lines of Kalas Mahal, located at a stone's throw away distance. But officials can't explain why old paper and wood stock were found inside the abandoned building. 

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.

The government has just started work on the restoration of Kalas Mahal when another fire has broken out in the same heritage complex, serving as a crude reminder to the way the heritage buildings are being conserved by the government. 

According to PWD officials, this part of the Humayun Mahal was an abandoned structure which was in dilapidated condition. Some anti-social elements who tried to steal copper wire stored in the building which probably caused the fire, they said. 

One person has been arrested so far. 

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