The ancient mansion reportedly belonged to a family of Indian Civil Service bureaucrats who served under the British, and was sold for Rs 100 crore.

Chennais iconic Jeypore Palace that once housed Amethyst sold razed to the
news Heritage Saturday, December 08, 2018 - 17:35

Chennai woke up to a rude shock on Saturday as news broke that the city's iconic Sundar Mahal, popularly referred to as Jeypore Palace, had been sold.

The Times of India reported that the building, built over 100 years ago, had been bought by Bhaashyam Constructions. The iconic building, which housed popular café Amethyst, has been razed to the ground.

The owners of the home in Gopalapuram have reportedly been compensated with a whopping Rs 100 crore for the 21 grounds of property. The newspaper reports that the buyers intend to put up an apartment complex where the ancient building once stood near the DAV School.

The Amethyst cafe, run by Chennai-based businesswoman Kiran Rao, set up shop at the Sundar Mahal in the year 2000 until it moved ten years later to its Whites Road campus. According to the website of the cafe, Rao had attempted revive the 'ancient haveli’.

Speaking to TNM, Chennai-based historian Kombai S Anwar rues that the structure has been razed. While not much is known of the building itself, Anwar says that the original occupants were a family of erstwhile Indian Civil Service bureaucrats who served under the British.

Where the mansion once stood.

“It is tragic and sad, but inevitable. Civic society and citizens must come together and raise awareness about heritage. Unless we can think of ways to compensate the owner and give financial incentives to help them maintain the property, profit will continue to be made out heritage sites. Because money is equally powerful.There should be a multi-pronged policy to conserve and raise awareness about heritage sites,” he says.

Would he recommend the state buying out such iconic properties in an effort to preserve them? While that may well be a consideration, the historian points out that the government cannot buy everything.

"Even if the government buys it, it may fall into disuse and come under lock and key. So unless the citizens feel a stake in protecting such monuments, we cannot stop this,” he adds.

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