Cyclone unleashed fury on ageing Garden House
INTACH team called to assess damage
A team from the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has been called to inspect the damage caused by cyclone ‘Thane' to the 18th Century edifice here that was once the home of British General Robert Clive.
Known as the Garden House in colonial parlance, it has been declared a heritage structure and serves as the camp of the District Collector.
Situated in the heart of Cuddalore town, it had famed sylvan surroundings and thick woods. Tucked away from public view, the magnificent building had come up in the midst of gigantic trees.
The mansion, which hosted many a banquet during the heydays of the British, was constructed using bricks and slake lime. Built in 1702 at a cost of Rs.27,500, the building fell into disrepair after the departure of the British.
It is learnt that the roof collapsed in 1984, forcing subsequent Collectors to move to a modest building on the same campus.
It prominently displays a circular plaque stating “This house was occupied by Robert Clive, afterwards created Lord Clive, circa 1756.”
The ground floor of the colonial legacy now serves as the camp office and conference hall where the review meetings, including in-camera ones, are held.
When the cyclone struck Cuddalore, as many as 60 trees on the campus were uprooted, blocking the approach road. The Collector could come out of the building only after removing the trees obstructing the way.
The falling trees damaged the tiles on the roofs and chipped away a portion of the balcony. The ferocious winds broke glass panes and wooden frames of windows.
The once well maintained garden in front of the building is now in tatters.
When contacted, District Collector Rajendra Ratnoo told The Hindu that preliminary estimates showed that the building had suffered damages to the tune of Rs.30 lakh. Since it was a heritage structure renovation work could be entrusted only to experts.
He said that the Superintendent of Police's bungalow, near Silver Beach, was another heritage building that was extensively damaged.
He had asked the INTACH to send a team to assess the damage and prepare an estimate, in coordination with the Public Works Department and the Tamil Nadu Police Housing Corporation, to restore these heritage structures to their pristine glory.