Maqbara Murshid Zadi, Qaiserbagh, Lucknow
Maqbara of Murshid Zadi, a monument with a mesmerising architectural design is not hard to miss when one passes through Qaiserbagh. This mausoleum is an epitome of love, built in the year 1824, by son Nawab Ghazi-ud-din Haider for his mother Begum Murshid Zadi. Adjacent to the tomb of Nawab Saadat Ali Khan lies the tomb of his wife Begum Murshid Zadi. This monument happens to be on a lush green lawn which somehow makes it more welcoming to visit. It comprises of minarets, turrets and a huge dome which altogether adorn the monument and make the people at a distance aware of it’s existence. As the mausoleum is built in Indo-Islamic form of architecture, its dome has an inverted guldasta over it. The arched doors and windows provide a gateway to equivalently stunning architecture.The outer walls of the structure has brilliant stucco work done upon it and the floors are chequered with black and white marbles. ‘This structure was built with lakhauri bricks and locally available mortar. Had it been built with white marble, it would have surpassed the beauty of Taj Mahal’, states the eminent historian Mr. Roshan Taqui.
Tomb of Mushid Zadi was built in the year 1824,10 years after the death of Nawab Saadat Ali Khan. It’s really dispiriting to see the present state of such a howling monument. Now-a-days its condition is devolving into the form of crumbling plasters, broken pointed rod at its peak, dull-blackened walls and bad shape of the lawn surrounding it.
Bibiapur Kothi, Cantt, Lucknow
The Nawabs have always been renowned for formalities, mannerisms and hospitality with which they used to welcome their guests. The walls of Bibiapur Kothi stands as an evidence to it. Located on the right bank of river Gomti on the south-east of the city, it was built by Nawab Asif-ud daula (1775-1797) for the purpose of welcoming his European guests. Bibiapur Kothi was drafted by Antoine-Louis Polier in neoclassical architectural design with assistance of General Claude Martin. It comprised commodious halls which were ornamented with white and blue European tiles, a high roof with wooden beams and spiral staircases that were put to use for the first time in India. Arched doorways lead to the inside of the kothi. The upper floor of it had many cylindrical pillars. A little distance away, a water tank which had a capacity of 80,000 galloons of water, was constructed for being used for the royal kitchen.
‘This kothi was used by the Nawab’s European guests for their recreation. Moreover, it holds a major political importance as well. It is the same place where Nawab Asif-ud-daula’s son Nawab Wazir Ali Khan shot Captain Cherry who was the army officer of the Residency at that time. This incident took place day after Nawab Asif-ud-daula’s death, when the Britishers had denounced Wazir Ali Shah and refused to accept him as Nawab Asif-ud-daula’s heir’, states Mr. Roshan Taqui, an eminent Historian of Awadh. Nawab Sadat Ali Khan was crowned at Bibiapur Kothi at special darbar in 1798. After the annexation of Awadh, this building was often used by the Britishers as a venue for their celebrations. The same place which once frequently had so many visitors now stands abandoned. The walls which once embraced laughter are now succumbing to despair. However repair work is in process at Kothi.
Dilkusha Kothi, Cantt, Lucknow
Also known as the English house or Vilayati Kothi, Dilkusha Kothi was built during the reign of Nawab Saadat Ali Khan in the years 1800-1805. The designing and construction of which was done by one of Nawab’s British friend Gore Ousely. The Kothi built in European-Gothic style of architecture stands amidst plush green garden. Lakhauri bricks plastered with lime were used in it’s construction. The extremes of the kothi were known to have towers that further had circular staircases in them. A series of steps led to the entrance or the main doorway of the palace. It is said that the handrail of the staircases had female statues adjacent to it. There is another structure present near the palace whose lower floor served as a stable for the horses and was also used as a parking ground for the Nawab’s horse-wagons.
Dilkusha Kothi served as Nawab’s farmhouse. They visited this place with their families for recreation. ‘Vilayati Kothi is the imitation of Seaton Delaval Hall which was built by Sir John Vanbrugh in the year 1718 and is the Grade 1 listed country house of Northumberland, England’, says Roshan Taqui, a historian of Awadh. Moreover, this building also operated to be one of the main centre of the 1857 mutiny of sepoys and hence, suffered extensive damage. During the revolt of 1857, General Henry Havelock died here. Looking at the ruins, one can easily imagine the how beautiful and grand the palace would be back then. But presently it seems to be deserted as it hardly gets any visitors.
Hanuman Temple, Aliganj, Lucknow
Hanumanji Temple at Aliganj, Lucknow is famous for being the centre for the celebrations of the Bada Mangal festival which exemplifies Lucknow’s symbol of the Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb and synthesis of culture. It is a unique festival and we are proud that it is celebrated in the city of Lucknow only ! It portrays the best example of the secular approach that the Nawabs of Awadh had towards the different religious belief of their subjects. The facade of the Aliganj Hanumanji Temple is colored in saffron. It comprises the main shrine- the idol of Lord Hanuman. The compound of the temple has a beautiful pond with stairs, which adds to it’s ancientness. People from far off places come to this temple to offer prayers to the lord. The famous festival of ‘Bada Mangal’ is associated with this ancient temple. It’s celebrated grandly in this temple every year. An annual fair known as ‘Bada Mangal ka Mela’ is also held here at the same time, states Mr. Roshan Taqui, an eminent historian of Awadh.
The tradition of Bada Mangal has the history like this; Begum Janab-e Alia (wife of the third Nawab of Awadh, Shuja-ud Daulah 1753-1775), dreamt of a divine presence commanding her to build a temple honoring Hanumanji. The dream pointed her to a specific site where an idol of Hanumanji was buried. Accordingly, the begum ordered the excavation of the site and when the idol was found, made arrangements for transporting it back to Lucknow on an elephant. However, the elephant stopped in its tracks after some distance and refused to budge. The begum inferred this as another divine sign and ordered the erection of a temple at this spot (Aliganj temple). When the construction of this temple got completed, since then on the first Tuesday of the Jeth month, Bada Mangal fair is celebrated here and this is how Aliganj Hanumanji Temple holds it’s importance. Since then, people congregate in large numbers & celebrate Bada Mangal as a fair every year ! The present condition of the temple demands a broader road that leads to it’s entrance as the current roadway is narrower and thus, becomes more prone to regular traffic jams. Moreover, the adjacent pond is not as clean as it should be.
Tehsin Ki Masjid, Chowk, Lucknow
Chowk lane is famous for Tunday Kababi, Chandi Ka Warq, Phool Wali Gali, Gota, Chikan, Zardozi, Itr, much more and the historical Tehsin Ki Masjid. Constructed from the scrap obtained from the Bada Imambara, Tehsin’s mosque was built during the years 1788-1794 by Tehsin Ali Khan, who was appointed as the Daroga of Tosha Khana by Nawab Asif-ud-daula and was also known to be very close to the Nawab. The view of this mosque from a distance showcases three domes, out of which the middle one seems to be of a greater height than the ones at the extremes possessing equal height. Each of them have narrow, regular ribbings and at the peak of each dome is mounted an ornamental narrow rod which points at the sky. Built in Indo-Islamic style of architecture, the high minarets, turrets and carvings on the walls beautify the facade of the mosque. Three multi-arched gateways present at the front face of the structure lead to the interior of the mosque.
Tehsin Ali Khan was not only the Daroga of Tosha Khana but was also responsible for maintaining the valuables of the Nawab along with his royal household. ‘When the Bada Imambara was getting constructed, Tehsin went to Nawab Asif-ud-daula begging to allow him to take away all the debris which was obtained when the noblemen who did not wanted to be recognised as labourers were called after the sunset to demolish the raised structures. Nawab allowed him to haul this rubble and later with the same rubble Tehsin Ali Khan had successfully built a mosque which is now popular as Tehsin Ki Masjid or Tehsin’s mosque’, states Mr. Roshan Taqui, an eminent historian of Awadh. While offering his service to Nawab Asif-ud-daula, he became so much attached to the Nawab that on his death, he decided to quit all the earthly belongings and spend the rest of his life as a keeper at Nawab’s grave. On seeing his state, Nawab’s son Wazir Ali Khan offered him a proposal to become the Naazir of the royal palace, which Tehsin Ali khan had later accepted. But they didn’t succeed in maintaining a cordial relation for long and thus ended up parting ways. Presently, the area of the mosque is eaten up by encroachment of numerous shops and houses. Moreover, the lane in which the mosque exists is quite narrow and lies in such an interior of the area that it becomes difficult for the visitors to locate it.
Maqbara Sadat Ali Khan, Qaiserbagh, Lucknow
Not-so-lofty in size yet renowned for it’s brilliant artistry, Maqbara of Saadat Ali Khan is one-such famous landmark of the city. Situated near Begum Hazrat Mahal Park, this beautifully designed structure was built by Nawab Ghazi-ud-Din Haider and was meant to serve as a mausoleum for his father Nawab Saadat Ali Khan. Nawab Saadat Ali Khan’s Maqbara is built in the Indo-Islamic style of architecture. The walls of the facade has fine stucco work done on it. It also has turrets and a huge dome which is further embellished with an inverted guldasta over it. Atop the guldasta is fixed a pointed, narrow rod which aims at the sky. The building has it’s floor chequered with black and white marbles and it’s walls adorned with several arched doors and windows. ‘Lakhauri bricks and locally available mortar was used to build this structure. Had this Maqbara been built with white marble, it would have transcended the beauty of Taj Mahal’, states the famous historian, Mr. Roshan Taqui. Just like Asifi Masjid, initially this Maqbara had rooms at the base of it. But it was later when they were closed permanently. The tomb of Nawab Saadat Ali Khan’s wife Murshidzaadi lies adjacent to his Maqbara.
It was in the year 1814 when Nawab Saadat Ali Khan died and his son Ghazi-ud-Din Haider came to the throne, shifting from his previous residence to Chhatar Manzil, which once used to be his father’s palace. Nawab Ghazi-ud-Din Haider was overwhelmed to take over his father’s palace and he felt that it was now his duty to do something for him. So he decided to dismantle his previous residence and get his father’s mausoleum built on the same land. Since then, this well-favored edifice houses the tomb of Nawab Saadat Ali Khan. It was built in the area which was then called Khas Bazaar and is presently known as Qaiser Bagh. Khas Bazaar served as a market for the VIP’s, royal families and their foreign visitors. It’s really disheartening to see the present state of such a wondrous monument. It’s deteriorating condition in the form of crumbling plasters, broken pointed rod at it’s peak, dull-blackened walls and bad shape of the park surrounding it, is awaiting for the onlookers’s to pay heed over the feeling of love and respect with which it was once built and help it in regaining it’s original grace.
Christ Church, Hazratganj
The much loved landmark of the city, Christ Church is renowned for being one of the ancient churches of Lucknow. It was designed in the year 1860 by Hutchinson, who was a British Army officer. Built in gothic style of architecture, the church has a triple-storeyed square tower. The high spire of the tower is headed by a metallic cross. The bell tower of the church has a transept at it’s back. A roomy prayer hall as well as an attractively designed wooden altar makes this church all the more impressive. Gothic arches of the huge windows and doors as well as the appealing railings at the upper most storey of the church exemplify the beauty of this edifice. It also houses fabulous pieces of art-work and memorial plaques that have names of the English martrys inscribed on them. The Church now stands amidst the Christ Church college ground.
‘Christ Church was built as a memorial to the martyrs of East India Company, after the first war of Independence by the Britishers. The church was enlarged and improved in the year 1904′, states Mr. Roshan Taqui, the famous historian of Awadh. This structure is one of the best examples of British architecture. ‘The architectural structure of the church makes it distinct and stupendous amongst all’, says Ms. Mohita Tewari, a student. The building itself conveys it’s miseries, it’s dilapidated condition states the story of it’s glory fading away with each passing year. The outer face of the building is bearing layers of darkness, witnessing the story of it’s ignorance.
Constantia – La Martiniere, Lucknow
La Martiniere College is one of the oldest institution of Lucknow that not only imparts education but also serves as a monument to history buffs. The construction of this historic building began in the year 1795 by Claude Martin. Also referred to as Constantia, this concrete structure has it’s own unique style of architecture. It’s structural design reflects amalgamation of the best motifs of the Indian, Turkish and Persian architectural styles of the world. The founder is buried in an underground chamber in the basement. Above this basement is the La Martiniere Memorial hall that comprises tablets having names of the pupils who died in the war inscribed on it. ‘The Tomb of Gori Bibi, the founder’s favourite companion, who resided with him in Constantia lies on the La Martiniere estate’, states Mr. Taqui, a famous historian of Awadh. A grand stairway leads to the East Terrace of this building. It’s flanked by cannons which were used in a battle. Moreover, a special bell cast by Claude Martin is placed on the pedestal. The impressive Chapel of this building is worth a visit. Various statues, pottery and paintings adorn this beautiful historic building. Constantia was founded by Claude Martin (1735-1800), an officer who served formerly in the French East India Company and had later joined the British East India Company. He also served Nawab Nawab Asif-ud-daula and was renowned to be the richest Frenchman in India. Constantia was built as Claude Martin’s residence but it’s construction work was completed few years after Martin’s demise (13th September, 1800). Martin was not married and had no hier. So he made a will on 1st January, 1800 , which stated that his estate would be used to build three schools named La Martiniere in his memory in Lucknow, Calcutta and his native place Lyon, France. It was for the first time when the Britishers sought help from the staff and students of the school in the defence of the Residency during the mutiny of sepoys in the year 1857. In the initial years, the school admission was opened to only European students. This building is still famous as Martin Saheb Ki Kothi.
La Martiniere now serves as one of the best institutions of Lucknow and the students of this school feel proud to call themselves Martinians. It is said to be the only school in the world which has been awarded royal battle honors for it’s important role in the defence of Lucknow during the mutiny of 1857. On it’s 150th anniversary, it has also been honored by the government through postal department. They have released a two rupees postage stamp that has the image of this building in it’s background. Furthermore, due to the spectacular European architecture of this edifice, ample number of hit movies like – Shatranj Ke khiladi, Gadar Ek Prem Katha, Anwar, Always Kabhi Kabhi etc. have been shot here. ‘The state-of-the-art architecture is what I see in this building… It’s mind boggling!’, says Mrityunjay Rajpurohit, a student. Built in the early 19th century, now this building gasps for refurbishment. The once amazing designs on the walls of the facade are now seen covered in dust. Blackened and deteriorated walls and the crumbling plasters of the building makes us realise that the building, which has always been a treat to the eyes for all, needs an immediate restoration.
Shahi Baoli, Hussainabad, Lucknow
The Shahi Baoli was constructed in order to be used as a water reservoir. Myths like water of this well being connected to the river flowing nearby or a secret treasure map and the key to the treasure being thrown into this well have been quite popularly widespread. Baoli is extensively popular for it’s exceptional architectural design. Nawab Asif-ud-daula built it during the years 1784-1794 and got the design of this baoli drafted by Kifayat-ullah, who was one of the most skilful architects of those times. The exquisite Indo-Islamic architectural design of this structure makes it an impeccably unique edifice. The Shahi Baoli was built along with the other units of the Bada Imambara in order to provide food and work to the famine-stricken natives of Awadh. To the east of the main courtyard of the Bada Imambara lies the Shahi Baoli. Entrance to the Shahi Baoli is through a double arched gateway. On moving further, an open flight of stairs lead down to the step-well. Encompassing this well stands a multi-storeyed structure which comprises many open arched windows and inter-connected galleries.
The most fascinating feature of this baoli is the secret view of the visitors that it offers. Because of the alignment of one of the windows of the building and it’s entrance pathway, one can see the colorful shadow of the visitors standing at the entrance of this structure, on the water of the well. Many of the royal guests have described this building in their travelogue as a five-storeyed palace or the Panch Mahal, consisting of halls and several resting rooms for the guests. Moreover, a water supply of hot as well as cold water was available to them for bathing. The entry to this palace was from the east whereas exit to it was from the west. Three storeys of this palace are now submerged into water’, says the famous historian of Awadh, Mr. Roshan Taqui. ‘Surprised to see shadows of the visitors on the waters of the well. It’s unbelievable!’, says Anjali Tuteja, a tourist from Bangalore. Memories of visiting such architectural wonders is a treasure for lifetime. It’s a marvellous piece of work!’ says, Sandeep Rawat, an engineer. Now-a-days, the water of the well is seen covered with green algae and seems excessively filthy. People are often seen throwing coins, empty wrappers and plastic bags into the well. Even the walls of the facade sustains scribblings, patches of betel juice, cracked plasters etc.
Ghanta Ghar, Hussainabad, Lucknow
Ghanta Ghar, Hussainabad is the tallest clock tower in India. It is 221 feet (67 metres) high free-standing clock tower situated in the core of the old city of Lucknow. The wheel of the clock is said to be larger than that of London’s Big Ben. Between Bara Imambara and Chota Imambara, this impressive clock tower stands amidst a green field with all its elegance. It was designed by Roskell Payne. The architectural style of this edifice has influence of Victorian-Gothic design. This square tower is made up of red bricks and has four clock faces. Each clock face has a 12 petalled flower shaped dial, where these petals signify the hours. “The spare parts of these clocks are made up of gun metal and were imported from Ludgate Hill, London”, states Mr. Roshan Taqui, a prominent historian of Awadh. The gigantic clock’s design, concept and creation was done by James William Benson, the famous clock maker of England. At the zenith of the tower, can be seen a wind-vane, in the form of birdlike structure which is mounted over a small shiny dome. This edifice is a fine example of British architectural skills. The majestic Ghanta Ghar was erected in the late 19th century (1882-1887), by the Hussainabad Endowment in honor of the first Lieutenant Governor of the United Province of Awadh and the North Western Province, Sir George Couper, during whose administration and under whose endorsement did the management reform and improve. The total cost of construction came to Rs. 1.75 lakhs approximately, which was quite a luxurious amount in those days. The gongs of the clock give a different musical chime for every time it rings. The top view of the entire Hussainabad area still encircles the area’s old charm and it looks flawlessly beautiful when seen from the tower !
“I have seen so many clock towers, but this one is amazingly different. Huge and magnificent!”, says Mr Ankur Nigam, a tourist. “Seeing it’s reflection in the nearby pond, makes it look even more beautiful”, says Ms Soniya Diwan, a student. There was a time when people rarely had wrist watches, in order to know the time, they used to depend on the nearby clock towers. These clock towers always taught them how to value time. But now the same clock towers are just treated as mere landmarks synonymous to their locations. Clocks of the Ghanta Ghar went dysfunctional in the 1980’s. But daring initiative of the locals have finally made it tick again, which itself needs restoration now as it is not working properly. Hussainabad’s Ghanta Ghar is now standing deserted in the midst of scattered filth, like- empty beer cans and plastic bottles, used cigarette butts etc. and having scribbled gibberish on it’s outer walls. Telling time is hardly the role of clock towers anymore. But they still attract crowds due to it’s rich historical background !