Copyright
William Wilson Hunter.

The imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 8) online

. (page 60 of 64)
Online LibraryWilliam Wilson HunterThe imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 8) → online text (page 60 of 64)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


fancy to the town, and did much to promote its welfare. His son,
Mirza Salim Shah, afterwards the Emperor Jahangir, founded Mirza
Mandi, lying to the west of the enceinte of the present fort. But none
of the great buildings which now adorn the city date back to an earlier
period than that of the independent Oudh dynasty.

Saadat Khan, founder of the Oudh kingdom, began life as a Persian
merchant of Naishapur, and ended it as the greatest Asiatic warrior of
his age, except perhaps Ahmad Khan. He became Governor (Subah-
dar) of Oudh in 1732 a.d., and fixed his residence at Lucknow.

Unlike his descendants, who built themselves the tasteless palaces
which now fill the city, Saadat Khan was content with a comparatively
humble dwelling, situated behind the Machi Bhawan. An open space,
south-west of the fort, now occupied by ordnance stores, marks the site
of two early buildings, the oldest in Lucknow erected by the family of
Shaikhs who formerly ruled over the surrounding territory. When
Saadat Khan assumed the reins of local government as Subahdar, he
hired these houses from their owners at a moderate monthly rent. At
first, the money was regularly paid ; but in process of time, the ruling
family began to regard the buildings as their own, and the rent fell into
arrears. Safdar Jang and Shuja-ud-daula gave written agreements to
fulfil the engagement, but never kept them ; and Asaf-ud-daula finally
confiscated the houses outright, without any compensation.



5 o6 LUCKNOW CITY.

Saadat Khan himself met at first with some opposition from the
Shaikhs • but in the end he was completely successful, and before his
death he had made Oudh practically an independent principality.
Even in his old age he retained his personal strength and his military
skill; and his Hindu foes recorded with awe how he slew in single
combat Bhagwant Singh Khichi, and how his troops, when almost
beaten, rushed again to the conflict where the long white beard of their
chief led the van of the battle.

His son-in-law and successor, Safdar Jang (1743)? uved at Delhi as
Wazfr ; but he built the fort of Jalalabad, 3 miles south of the city, to
intimidate the Bais of Baiswara. He also rebuilt the old stronghold
of Lakshmanpur, which thenceforth bore the name of Machi Bhawan,
from his own crest (a fish — machi). Under his rule, too, the bridge
across the river was begun, though not completed till the time of
Asaf-ud-daula. Safdar Jang's son and successor, Shuja-ud-daula (1753),
lived at Faizabad after the battle of Baksar (Buxar) ; and Lucknow
received no additions during his rule.

The three earliest Nawabs of the Oudh dynasty were soldiers and
statesmen, all of whom took the field in person against English,
Marathas, and Rohillas, or against the great nobles whose feudal
power had reduced the central authority to a mere name. Under
their government, therefore, Lucknow received few architectural
embellishments of an ornamental kind. Only works of military utility,
such as forts, wells, and bridges, engaged their attention ; though
the city continued to grow, as the head-quarters of the ruling house,
and several wards were added on its spreading outskirts.

With Asaf-ud-daula, the fourth Nawab, a new political situation de-
veloped. He lived the contented and servile ally of the English. By
their aid, Oudh had acquired Rohilkhand, and might acquire Benares ;
and he felt himself independent of his own people. The grandeur
of Lucknow dates from the reign of this Nawab. Yet his works did not
degenerate into the mere personal extravagance of his successors. He
built bridges and mosques, as well as the Imambara, the chief archi-
tectural glory of Lucknow. Though inferior to the purest Muham-
madan models of Delhi and Agra, the Imambara, taken together with
the adjoining mosque and the Riimi Darwaza, forms a group of striking
magnificence and picturesque splendour. Asaf-ud-daula's erections are
simple and grand, free from the base admixture of bastard Greek and
Italian features which disfigure the later style of the Oudh dynasty.
The Imambara, constructed during the great famine of 1784, as a relief
work for the starving people, now covers the remains of its founder.
Tradition relates that many of the most respectable inhabitants, com-
pelled by want, enrolled themselves amongst the workmen j and that to
save their honour and keep their identity unknown, their names were



LUCK NOW CITY. 507

called over, and their wages paid, at dead of night. The building
consists of one large hall of immense size and magnificence. It
measures 167 feet in length by 52 in breadth, and cost, according
to local computation, no less than a million sterling. The gaudy
decorations which once covered its walls have now disappeared ; and
as the mausoleum stands within the walls of the fort, it serves at
present as an arsenal for the British garrison. The building is as solid
as it is graceful, being raised upon very deep foundations, and
without a single piece of woodwork in its construction. Mr.
Fergusson, though he has little to say in favour of any other
architectural work in Lucknow, praises the admirable vaulting of
the Imambara, and observes that the mausoleum, 'when not too
closely looked into, is not unfit to be spoken of in the same chapter as
the earlier buildings.'

Amongst other works of Asaf-ud-daula, the Rumi Darwaza, a fine
old massive and isolated gateway that still leads out of the Machf
Bhawan fort, ranks highest in importance. The Daulat-khana, along
the banks of the river west of the fort, and the magnificent palace
known as the Residency, also belong to the same period. The latter
edifice looks down upon the Gumti from a considerable elevation, and
forms the most striking feature in the whole of Lucknow. It was
allotted to the British Resident by Saadat All when he made his own
home in the magnificent Farhat Baksh. Outside the city, and across the
river, lies the palace of Bibiapur, built by Asaf-ud-daula as a country
residence and hunting-lodge. Numerous other handsome edifices in
various parts of the town attest the greatness of the same Nawab,
whose memory is still preserved in popular rhymes as the embodiment
of liberality and magnificence.

To the reign of Asaf-ud-daula belongs also the Martiniere, a school
founded by General Claude Martin, and completed after his death. It
consists of a colossal Italian villa on an exaggerated scale. General
Martin himself designed the plan and elevation, and showed them
to the Nawab, who wished to buy the building for a million sterling.
The founder's bones were buried within the Martiniere to prevent its
confiscation by the Musalman court, but were dug up and scattered
during the Mutiny. The school now affords clothing and education to
120 boys.

Under Asaf-ud-daula, the Lucknow court reached its highest splen-
dour. The dominions of the Nawab extended over a wider area than
at any earlier or later period. All the wealth of the State was devoted-
to the personal aggrandizement of its ruler, and the accumulation
of those materials which minister to oriental pomp. No court in
India or in Europe could rival the magnificence of Asaf-ud-daula ;
and his only ambition apparently consisted in discovering how many



5 o8 L UCKNO W CITY.

elephants or diamonds the Nizam or Tipii possessed, in order that he
might outvie them. At the marriage of his reputed son, Wazir Ali
Khan, who four years afterwards murdered Mr. Cherry, and died in
Chunar prison, the marriage procession consisted of 1200 elephants,
and the young prince wore jewels valued at ^200,000. But this vast
accumulation of wealth could only be effected by the most crushing
taxation. Four years afterwards, Tennant traversed the whole of
Oudh, and found almost everywhere a plundered and desolate country.
The Nawab's dominions, he says, ' in defiance of the bounty of nature,
display a uniform sterility.' In Rohilkhand, ' not the hundredth part
of an acre is under cultivation ; ' and ' the solitude and gloom of the
Province ' were only relieved by a little prosperity where the eunuch
Mian Almas administered a few districts with comparative wisdom and
moderation. Of Lucknow itself he remarks, ' I never witnessed so
many varied forms of wretchedness, filth, and vice.'

Saadat Ali Khan, half-brother to Asaf-ud-daula (1798), carried his
submission to the British power still further. He gave up half his
dominions to the English, and in return obtained the protection of
their troops quartered in his citadels. Thenceforth the Nawabs and
kings of Oudh degenerated into a mere faineant dynasty of pleasure-
seekers, whose works no longer partook of any national or utilitarian
character, but ministered solely to the gratification of the sovereign. In
the place of mosques, wells, forts, or bridges, palace after palace sprang
up in succession, each more ungraceful and extravagant than the last.
At the same time, European influence began to make itself felt in
the architecture, which grew gradually more and more debased from
reign to reign. Awkward imitations of Corinthian columns supported
Musalman domes, while false Venetian blinds and stucco marble
replaced the solid masonry of the earlier period. A modest mansion
rented from a private family had satisfied the soldier chief, Saadat
Khan, and his two successors. One palace sufficed even for the
prodigal Asaf-ud-daula, the builder of the Imambara, the c/iauk t the
bazars, and the market-places. Saadat Ali, however, built numerous
palaces ; while with Nasir-ud-din Haidar began an era of extravagant
expenditure on monstrous residences for the royal family and their
female dependants. In the Chattar Manzil lived the king's wives ; in
the Kaisar Pasand and other buildings, his concubines ; in the Shah
Manzil, his wild beasts. He himself inhabited the Farhat Baksh, the
Haziir Bagh, the palace at Bibiapur, and many others. Wajid Ali
Shah had 360 concubines, each with a separate range of palatial
apartments.

To Saadat Ali Khan's reign belongs the Farhat Baksh, or ' Giver of
Delight,' the chief royal residence till Wajid Ali built the Kaisar
Bagh. Part of this magnificent building, overlooking the river, the






LUCKNOW CITY. 5 c 9

Nawab purchased from General Martin. The remainder he himself
constructed. The great throne-room, known as the Kasr-us-Sult£n or
Lai Baradari, was set apart for royal darbdrs ; and at the accession of
a new sovereign, it was customary for the British Resident to seat him
on the throne, and present him with a nazar, in token of his confirmation
in the sovereignty by the supreme power. Saadat Ali Khan also built
all that portion of Lucknow which stretches eastward from the old
Hindu wards, besides numerous small palaces, including the Dilkusha,
which stands on high ground outside the city, north of the modern
cantonments, affording a splendid view of the town, the river, and the
surrounding country. In his time, Lucknow finally reached very
nearly its present size.

Ghdzi-ud-din Haidar, son of Saadat Ali Khan (1814), was the first of
his line who bore the name of king. He built the greater part of the
pile known as the Moti Mahal palace, around the Moti Mahal dome of
his father. Along the river face, he added the Mubarak Manzil and
the Shah Manzil, on either side of the old bridge of boats. The latter
formed the scene of the wild-beast fights for which the court of Oudh
was famous up to the date of its extinction. Ghazi-ud-din Haidar also
erected the Chini bazar, the Chattar Manzil Kalan, which faces the
river, and the Chattar Manzil Khurd in its rear. The Shah Najaf, on
the banks of the Gumti, he built for his own tomb ; and on the spot
formerly occupied by his house when heir -apparent, he raised two
magnificent mausoleums to his father and mother. He attempted to
dig a canal for irrigation, which now skirts the east and south sides of
the city ; but it proved a failure, so far as economical results were con-
cerned. The Kadam Rasiil or ' Prophet's Footprint,' a Muhammadan
place of worship, built by Ghazi-ud-din, stands upon an artificial mound,
and formerly contained a stone bearing the impress of the Prophet's
foot. A pilgrim brought the holy relic from Arabia ; but during the
troubles of 1857 it disappeared, and has not since been recovered.

Nasir-ud-din Haidar, son of the last-named monarch (1827), founded
the Tarawali Kothi or ' Observatory,' under the superintendence of
Colonel Wilcox, his astronomer-royal. It contained several excellent
instruments. On the death of Colonel Wilcox in 1847, Wajid Ali Shah
dismissed the establishment, and the instruments disappeared during
the Mutiny, being probably broken up by the rebels. The Faizabad
Maulvi, Ahmad -ulla Shah, made it his head - quarters during the
rebellion, and the insurgent council frequently held its meetings within
the building. Nasir-ud-din also built a great karbala in Iradatnagar,
under which he lies buried.

Muhammad All Shah, uncle of Nasir-ud-din Haidar (1837), raised his
own monument, the magnificent Husainabad Imambara. It consists of
two enclosures, one of which stands at right angles to the other. Leaving



5I0 LUC KNOW CITY.

the fort by the great Riimi Darwaza, a broad road near the Gumti, a
quarter of a mile in length, conducts to the gate of the outer quadrangle.
A spectator standing a little to the west of the road can take in at a
single view the great Imambara of Asaf-ud-daula and the Riimi Darwdza
to the right, with the Husainabad mausoleum and the Jama Masjid to
the left. The whole forms one of the finest architectural prospects
in the world. This king also laid out a splendid road, which leads
from the Chattar Manzil through the fort along the river bank to his
Imambara. A magnificent tank, standing beside the road, dates from
the same reign. Ali Shah likewise began the erection of a mosque, at
a short distance from his mausoleum, designed to surpass the Jama
Masjid of Delhi in size ; but he did not live to complete it, and it stands
still half built, with the scaffolding rotting away outside, untouched
from the day of his death. The Sat Khanda or ' Seven-storied Tower,'
another of All Shah's projected works, remains similarly unfinished,
only the fourth storey having reached its completion.

Amjad Ali Shah, the fourth king (1S41), made a metalled road to
Cawnpur, built his own mausoleum at Hazratganj, and laid down
an iron bridge across the Gumti. This bridge was brought out from
England by order of Ghazi-ud-din Haidar, who, however, died before
it arrived. His son, Nasir-ud-din Haidar, directed that it should
be put up opposite the Residency, where a small temple and ghat
now stand ; but the operations for sinking wells to receive the piers
proved unsuccessful, and the work was thus delayed till the accession
of Amjad All.

Wajid Ali Shah, the last King of Oudh (1 847-1 856), bears the whole
opprobrium for the erection of the Kaisar Bagh, the largest, gaudiest,
and most debased of all the Lucknow palaces. It was commenced in
1848, and finished in 1850, at a cost of 80 lakhs (say ^800,000).
Entering by the north-east gateway, which faces the open space in front
of the Observatory, the visitor passes through a court to a gate known
as the Jilaukhana, whence the royal processions used to start. Turning
to the right, through a screened gateway, he arrives at the Chini Bagh,
so called from the China vessels which formerly decorated the gardens.
A portal flanked by green mermaids, in the worst European taste of the
last century, leads next to the Hazrat Bagh. On the right hand lie the
Chandiwali Baradari, once paved with silver, and the Khas Mukam, as
well as the Badshah Manzil, the special residence of the king, erected
by Saadat Ali Khan, but included by Wajid Ali Shah in the plan of his
new palace. On the left stands a large confused pile of buildings, called
the Chandlakkhi, built by Azim-ulla Khan, the king's barber, and sold
by him to the king for 4 lakhs. It formed the residence of the queen
and the chief concubines. In this building the rebel Begam held her
court, while the British prisoners lay for weeks in one of the stables



LUCKNOW CITY. 51 r

close at hand. The roadway proceeds past a tree, paved round the
roots with marble, under whose shade the king used to sit on fair-
days, dressed in the yellow robes of a fakir. The Eastern Lakhi gate,
so called from its having cost a lakh of rupees, gives access to a
magnificent open square, known pre-eminently as the Kaisar Bdgh, and
surrounded by the residences of the ladies of the harem. In the month
of August, a great fair used to be held in this square, to which all
Lucknow was admitted. Proceeding past the stone Baradari, now
fitted up as a theatre, and under the Western Lakhi gate, which cor-
responds to its eastern namesake, the visitor reaches a building known
as the Kaisar Pasand, surmounted by a gilt hemisphere. This palace
was erected by Roshan-ud-daula, minister of Nasir-ud-din Haidar ; but
Wajid Ali Shah confiscated it, and gave it as a residence to his favourite
concubine, Mashuk-us-Sultan. Finally, a second Jilaukhana leads once
more into the open street.

Since the British annexation, but little has been done in the way of
architectural improvement, though charitable dispensaries, schools, and
other works of public utility have been largely undertaken. The late
Maharaja of Balrampur, Sir Digbijai Singh, K.C.S.I., has also founded
a capacious hospital on a plot of high ground adjoining the Residency,
with beds for one hundred patients.

Architecture.— Summarizing the chief architectural features, Lucknow
thus contains two noble mosques, one Imdmba>a of imperial dimen-
sions, four tombs of regal splendour (those of Saadat Ali Khan, of
Mushid Zadi, of Muhammad Ali Shah, and of Ghazi-ud-din Haidar),
together with two great palaces, or rather collections of palaces (the
Chattar Manzil and the Kaisar Bagh). Besides these larger works, it
also comprises a whole host of royal garden-houses, pavilions, town
mansions, temples, and mosques. Almost every building owes its
origin to the late reigning family. The nobles of the court and the
merchants could not display their wealth with safety in any other form
than the erection of mosques or tombs. It was dangerous for any but
the king's immediate relatives to live in a handsome mansion. Since
the annexation, however, the nobility of Oudh have built a large number
of town houses. They generally possess an imposing gateway, as one
main feature of the facade, consisting of arch within arch, rising from
the same base, and covered with a modern oriental profusion of gaudy
colouring.

Lucknow contains the most debased examples of architecture to be
found in India. Portions of the Kaisar Bagh consist of decoration in
the very worst style which prevailed during the last century in Europe,
and which, when banished from England, took refuge in India. ' No
caricatures of architecture,' says Mr. Fergusson, writing of this city,
' are so ludicrous or so bad as those in which Italian details are



5I2 LUCKNOW CI7Y,

introduced.' Nowhere else has the oriental become simply vulgar.
Nevertheless, many buildings in Lucknow present a sky-line and general
plan of considerable beauty. Seen from a distance, the fantastic domes
and pinnacles of the Martiniere, the Chattar Manzil, and the Kaisar
Bagh are not without a certain picturesque effect ; while the more
ancient tombs and minarets rise in solemn contrast of dark grey
stone against the gilded summits of their younger rivals. The old
buildings, also, are much more solidly built than the new. The
Imambara, now almost a hundred years old, though exposed to a heavy
cannonade during the Mutiny, has not lost a single brick ; while the
Kaisar Bagh, not yet thirty years of age, has suffered much from decay,
and already presents a ruinous appearance. Flying buttresses to
support nothing but one another, copper domes gilt from top to
bottom, burnished umbrellas, and balustrades of burnt clay, form
frequent features in the tawdry architecture which renders the distant
aspect of Lucknow so bright and sparkling. The plaster of stucco,
however, gives considerable beauty to the ordinary dwellings. The
finest kind is made from shells found in the dry beds of ancient lakes.
This chunam has a brighter and purer appearance than even marble,
and when lighted up with thousands of lamps, it produces an exquisitely
beautiful effect.

Since the introduction of British rule, the new authorities have laid
out well-kept roads, widened the tortuous native streets, and founded
commodious bazars, in which due attention has been paid to the
comfort and convenience both of the commercial classes and their
customers. The sanitary officers enforce stringent rules of cleanliness ;
and a municipality, containing many elective members, provides for the
welfare of the city, with a just regard to native feeling and wishes.

Mutiny Narrative. — A couple of months before the outbreak at
Meerut (Merath), Sir Henry Lawrence (20th March 1857) had assumed
the Chief Commissionership of the newly annexed Province of Oudh.
The garrison at Lucknow then consisted of the 32nd (British) Regiment,
a weak company of European artillery, the 7th Regiment Native Light
Cavalry, and the 13th, 48th, and 71st Regiments of Native Infantry.
In or near the city were also quartered two regiments of irregular local
infantry, together with one regiment of military police, one of Oudh
irregular cavalry, and two batteries of Native artillery. The town thus
contained nearly ten Indian soldiers to every European, or 7000 to 750.
Symptoms of disaffection occurred as early as the month of April,
when the house of the surgeon to the 48th was burned down in revenge
for a supposed insult to caste. Sir Henry Lawrence immediately took
steps to meet the danger by fortifying the Residency and accumulating
stores. On the 30th of April, the men of the 7th Oudh Irregulars
refused to bite their cartridges, on the ground that they had been



LUC KNOW CITY. 513

greased with cow's fat. They were induced with some difficulty to
return to their lines. On May 3, Sir Henry Lawrence resolved to
deprive the mutinous regiment of its arms, a step which was effected
not without serious delay.

On May 12, Sir Henry held a darbdr, and made an impressive

speech in Hindustani, in which he called upon the people to uphold

the British Government, as most tolerant to Hindus and Muham-

madans alike. Two days earlier, the massacre at Meerut had taken

place, and a telegram brought word of the event on the morning

after the darbdr. On the 19th, Sir Henry Lawrence received the

supreme military command in Oudh. He immediately fortified the

Residency and the Machi Bhawan, bringing the ladies and children

into the former building. On the night of the 30th May, the expected

insurrection broke out at Lucknow. The men of the 71st, with a few

from the other regiments, began to burn the bungalows of their officers,

and to murder the inmates. Prompt action was taken, and early next

morning the European force attacked, dispersed, and followed up for

10 miles the retreating mutineers, who were joined during the action by

the 7th Cavalry. The rebels fled towards Sitapur. Although Lucknow

thus remained in the hands of the British, by the 12th of June every

other post in Oudh had fallen into the power of the mutineers. The

Chief Commissioner still held the cantonments and the two fortified

posts at the beginning of June, but the symptoms of disaffection in the

city and among the remaining native troops were unmistakeable. In

the midst of such a crisis, Sir Henry Lawrence's health unhappily gave

way. He delegated his authority to a council of five, presided over by

Mr. Gubbins, the Financial Commissioner, but shortly after recovered

sufficiently to resume the command. On June the nth, however, the

military police and native cavalry broke into open revolt, followed on

the succeeding morning by the native infantry. On the 20th of June,

news of the fall of Cawnpur arrived ; and on the 29th, the enemy,

7000 strong, advanced upon Chinhat, a village on the Faizabad road,

8 miles from the Residency. Sir Henry Lawrence marched out and

gave the enemy battle at that spot. The result proved disastrous to our

arms, through the treachery of the Oudh artillery, and a retreat became

necessary. The troops fell back on Lucknow, abandoned the Machi

Lhawan, and concentrated all their strength upon the Residency. The

siege of the enclosure began upon 1st July. On the 2nd, as Sir Henry

Lawrence lay on his bed, a shell entered the room, burst, and wounded



Online LibraryWilliam Wilson HunterThe imperial gazetteer of India (Volume 8) → online text (page 60 of 64)