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Old Collectorate building of Ujjain

Above image: Old Collectorate (Kothi palace) on Vishshavidhyalay Road is 3km from Madhav Nagar Railway station. It also housed Office of Revenue Commissioner, Sub-divisional Magistrate Ujjain and Treasury  reside in the same building….

Above image:  Thanjavur District Collectorate office, Kutchery (court) Road, Thanjavur, TN.  Since 1896 till  June 2015 it had continuously served as the Collectorate office with collector’s official room on the first floor overlooking the front open yard and the main road. It was from here in April 1930 energetic Collector J. A. Thorne (ICS) made a vein attempt to stop the Salt Satyagraha march to Vedaranyam coast led by Rajaji (C. Rajagopalachari, T. S. S. Rajan, Kamaraj and others). Architecture: Indo-Saracenic…………………

Any visitor from the city of Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu that was  ruled last by the Marathas (closely linked to the dynasty of Chatrapathi Shivaji)  to Ujjain will be wonderstruck as to how  Kothi Mahal (Vikramaditya  Bhavan), Ujjain (Madhya Pradesh) and the old collectorate  building in Thanjavur city share more or less similar architectural features and configuration. While kothi Mahal, where the  district administrative office functioned  until recent past was built in 1887, the one at Thanjavur was built nine years later in 1896 during the Raj. Both buildings  that housed the state government offices – District administration, have  strong colonial influence with much emphasis on Hindu-Muslim design  elements. Ujjain was the capital of the Scindia dynasty and in 1810  it shifted over to  Gwalior 

‘Maharajwada’ building, close Mahakaleshwar temple used to be the residence of the Scindia ruler and as the building became structurally weak and dilapidated, Kothi mahal was built out of necessity  for the royal family members. 

Then known as Nai Kothi (actually Rajawada), it was supposedly the residence of  the Scindia ruler.  Built at a cost of Rs 8 lakh, a huge sum in those days, for unknown reasons,  ruler Madhavrao Scindia   refused to stay there in 1867, one year after the building was completed.  Kothi mahal  later housed the  government offices. Subsequently  Kaliadeh Palace on the banks of river Kshipra in Bhairavgarh area on the fringe of Ujjain  became  the residence of rulers of Scindia family during their visit to this place.

As for the Thanjavur   Collectorate building on the Kutchery road (Court road) across the old District Courts near the Railway junction and the Big temple), it was built to house the government offices by the British Raj.  The Thanjavur (Tanjore) Maratha dynasty that  had ruled  the rich Cauvery delta region  for a long period had internal squabbles over the successor to the throne. after the death of   Shivaji II (1832–55), the last Thanjavur Maratha ruler. Unfortunately, being childless  there was no legal heir left to succeed the throne. Taking advantage of the confusion in the family in the absence of a legal owner, the British wasted no time and invoked the  the Doctrine of Lapse  (introduced  by Lord Dalhousie)  as a ruse in 1941  the Thanjavur fort  also became part of the then Madras Presidency.  Till his death the Maratha ruler had  limited administrative powers and the British kept him in check. 

Only in 1896 the Thanjavur collectorate building came up as a  primary seat of power covering many districts Thanjavur,  Thiruvarur, Nagapattinam,  part of Tiruchirappalli and recently formed Mayavaram (Mailaduthurai) and Kumbakonam districts. 

Both Kothi Palace or Vikramaditya Bhavan, Ujjain and the Thanjavur collector office buildings are masonry structures and good examples of Indo-Saracenic architecture which was popularized by the famous  British architect Robert Chisholm. Appointed by lord Napier, Chisholm not only left his mark in Madras but also in Vadadora  (Baroda, Gujarat).  Sharing common features like  thick walls, high ceilings, arched windows and entrances, three typical onion shaped domes at the center and similar number of  kalasams on them,  the former has a ground floor with 2 floors on either side, while the latter is a  single story structure. In both the buildings the cornices atop the structure  above the windows  on the ground and first floors in the façade accentuate the look of the building. The Kothi palace, unless the Thanjavur building, has a pair of stairways with a landing and decorative railings  on both sides close to the projected front portion with three doors- which otherwise  would have been a  porch. The Thanjavur collector office building has a beautiful spiral stairway with railings inside the huge hall to access the upper level. The side domes are set at corners in the front, but at Ujjain there is no space left between central and side domes.  This building was specifically built for the office purpose whereas Kothi Mahal was constructed as a palace for the ruling Scindia family.  

No details are available about the architects who had designed both structures. Blending the European elements like arched windows and entrances along with native styles like onion-shaped domes, whoever designed them was good at  ingenious planning, designing and execution.  High ceiling with Madras terrace supported by  wooden rafters and steel girders  and louvered  wooden doors (to keep indoors cool) characterize the old collector office building, Thanjavur.    As both places happened to be in hot places,  factors like climate, topography and terrain were given primary attention so as to keep the interiors cool in the hot season.    Plans are afoot to introduce toy trains and Sound and Light show in the future.  

The new four-story administrative complex of Ujjain close to the Kothi palace   completed at the cost of  Rs 27 crore was declared  open by by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on May 26 this year. The collector’s office will be on the second floor. The complex is provided with  5 lifts of varying capacity 13 to 28 to access  the upper floors of the building. 

Plans are afoot to operate heritage hotels at Kothi Palace and Kaliadeh Palace, according to the CM. The latter is owned by Scindia Trust and thus Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia will be taken into confidence.  Parking and Public Service Guarantee Centre will be there on the ground floor of the four-story. Initial survey work, etc  on the Kothi Palace or Vikramaditya Palace will start only   after the collector and commissioner’s office got shifted to the administrative building. MP Tourism Development Corporation (MPTDC) will play a key role in this project.  

Tit-bits: 

Sir Thomas Monroe:

Sir Thomas Munro. of Madras Presidency. nam.ac.u

It was in Madras, Thomas  Munro  (27 May 1761- 6 July 1827), a Scottish soldier and British colonial administrator  for the first time introduced the concept of  a form of  district administration and its main fundamental aspect was direct contact between the administrators and local natives. He laid such a strong  foundations that has survived with some changes to this day. The Collector, being the  head of the district  was in charge of revenue collection and lands, managing the police force. Apart, he  was vested with magisterial powers to preside over certain court cases. Under his authority worked were  a large number of tahsildars who apart from revenue collection, also had quasi-judicial powers in their sub-districts. In time, Munro’s methods became an absolute success and were extended all over South India and later followed up in the north. Munro was vociferous about  administration in the local language  and expected the officers to be fluent with the local lexicon to be at home with the natives. He was of the opinion that Indians must be allowed to dispense justice by themselves. This way the administrative cost will be reduced considerably.  

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