An iconic palace of nineteenth-century India
The construction of Lal Bagh Palace, or the Red Palace, began in the late nineteenth century and was completed in 1926 by the Holkar dynasty, one of the most powerful Maratha rulers of India. The architecture reflects Italian Renaissance Revival style, making it one of India’s finest neo-classical buildings. It is renowned for its European influenced interiors, among the finest surviving of this period in India.
The garden can be reached through Lal Bagh’s vast entrance gates bearing the Holkar coat of arms. Though it is reputed to have been the best garden palace in central India, today Lal Bagh is in dire need of conservation. Once the family left the palace it fell into decay. Peeling plaster, damage to the roof, water infiltration, and the faded splendor of the richly furnished rooms all require urgent attention.
Developing a conservation management plan
In 2011, World Monuments Fund began working with the Madhya Pradesh government to realize a multi-disciplinary project to document and conserve a selection of sites across the state. Among the state’s diverse heritage, Lal Bagh Palace in Indore is one of the most iconic palaces in Madhya Pradesh, and was selected as one of the featured sites of this program.
With support from the Robert W. Wilson Challenge to Conserve Our Heritage and the Madhya Pradesh Government, initial condition surveys were conducted. In 2019, support from InterGlobe Aviation Limited, allowed WMF and the government of Madhya Pradesh to undertake detailed surveys of the historic interiors of Lal Bagh Palace and launch a conservation plan. This restoration project is expected to continue through 2021.
As India has a large number of palatial cultural resources, the restoration of Lal Bagh Palace will serve as a model for conservation and sustainable management of palaces. The project seeks to benefit local students and residents by providing access and new uses to the site, and also aims to increase tourism, increasing Indore’s footfall as a tourist destination.