Lucknow is one of the most beautiful cities of India adorned with rich and fascinating historical monuments, capturing four hundred years of its pristine glory. The history of Lucknow can be studied mostly from its magnificent monumental heritage, not just the protected monuments but also the ancient remains, streets, gardens, bridges, markets and civic structures, marking the development of its architecture and landscape.
This book highlights the art and architecture of Lucknow, particularly the water management system as revealed through archaeological excavations conducted by the author at the Residency, Musabagh and Shahi Baoli etc. The religious monuments such as Imambaras and Mosques reveal a distinct Persian influence, while the secular buildings like the Palaces of Nawabs as well as Colonial Structures are more European in style. Some of its best architectural specimens like La-Martiniere College lie beyond the main city.
Dr. R.S. Fonia has done a commendable job. He has presented a dependable and coherent account of the architectural heritage of the city of Lucknow. The book contains the scholarly opinions and views of the author. I am sure this will generate serious interest among professionals and the laity.
Lucknow Circle of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was created on May 13, 1985 by reorganizing the parts of erstwhile Agra, Bhopal and Patna Circles. As on date, there are 364 monuments/sites under the jurisdiction of the Lucknow Circle. About sixty monuments/sites in Lucknow city have been brought under the central protection and thirteen under the state protection. Besides, the entire city is dotted with innumerable monuments and structures, having great historical and archaeological value.
The most distinctive architectural structures of Lucknow, which appealed me to write this book, are the Bara Imambara and La-Martiniere. Both these monuments were built with an emotional commitment with specific purpose to fulfil the urges of the society. The Bara Imambara was built mainly as a famine relief project to provide much needed employment and the La-Martiniere was built as an ideal educational centre. It is with a view to focus on the Lucknow city and its monuments from the archaeological, architectural and historical viewpoints, this guide book has been written, so that students, scholars, tourists and the elite become familiar with the monuments built by the Mughal, Nawabs and British builders.
The subject matter for the book was collected during my posting as Superintending Archaeologist of the Lucknow Circle from 1999-2005. I am grateful to Ms Juthika Patankar, Additional Director General of ASI for her moral support and guidance. I am beholden to Sh. (Late) M.C. Joshi, Former Director General of ASI, Dr. (Late) B.s. Raman and Dr. Rosie Liewellyn Jones for going through the first draft thoroughly and sharing with me their knowledge on the monuments of Lucknow.
I am thankful to Sh. S.K. Arora, Senior Photographer for his special assistance in photography and Smt. Pritpal Kaur for typing the draft. I acknowledge my thanks to Sh. Nicolas Chorier for providing me copies of his kite aerial photographs on some important monuments of Lucknow. I deeply cherish the co-operation and help received from the officers and staffs of Lucknow Circle for providing me necessary materials.
Many thanks are due to my colleagues Sh. A.K. Sinha, Dr. Arundhati Banerji, Dr. Madhulika Samanta, Sh. Indu Prakash, Dr. Piyush Bhatt, Sh. Nayan Anand Chakraborty, Dr. Sangeeta Chakraborty, Sh. Ashutosh Saxena and Sh. Hoshiar Singh for their help in editorial assistance and press work.
Acknowledgment is also due to Director General, ASI, Ms. Iuthika Patankar, Additional Director General, ASI and the entire team of Publication Section of the ASI for publishing the book. I appreciate the involvement of Chandu Press who patiently awaited for the manuscript.
He old City of Lucknow lying mainly on the south bank of the River Gomti at 26°32'N and 80030'E. Lucknow, popularly known as the city of gardens and Imambaras, was constructed by the Nawabi aristocracy of the Awadh province. It has a scanty History prior to the establishment of the Mughal rule, in India. According to local legends and myths, it is believed that Lucknow was ruled by Lakshmana, younger brother of Lord Rama, King of Ayodhya from where it receives its name as Lakshmanpur. It acquired its first social and political distinction in the sixth century BC, when it became a part of Kosala Mahajanapada. Subsequently, this region continued its cultural identity as Kosala or Madhyadesa, even when it merged into one of the other states of northern India. Excavations conducted in the region have also revealed continuous settlement dating from the beginning of the first millennium BC through early Historical, Historical Gupta, medieval and modern periods.
The development of the modern city of Lucknow dates at least from 1775, when it became the capital of Awadh. With the decline of the Mughal Empire in India in the late eighteenth century, Lucknow attracted the best of talents who received royal patronage under Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula. He transformed the small town, at that time a cluster of villages, into the cultural capital of India. A popular quotation of that time goes, "Jab Dilli ujadi, Lucknow bani." It is during this period that architecture and culture synthesized to give Lucknow a charm of its own. Asaf-ud-Daula (1775-97) was a great builder and he constructed Daulat Khana, Rumi Darwaza, Bara Imambara, Bibiapur Kothi, etc. Lucknow then became the established residence of the Governor and ruler, and started attracting people from other places too. Those settled in the old capital of Faizabad, in Shuja-ud-Daula's time (1754-75), moved to the new capital of Lucknow. People from Delhi and other regions in the north and north-west also came to Lucknow to settle permanently.
During the regime of Asaf-ud-Daula, the population of the Lucknow city increased considerably. Several new localities, such as Amani Ganj, Fateh Ganj, Rakab Ganj, Nakhas, Daulat Ganj, Begam Ganj, Nawab Ganj, Khansama, Tikait Ganj, Tikait Rai's Bazaar, Tirmani Ganj, Tikri or Tikliganj, Kashmiri Mohalla, Surat Singh Enclosure, Tahsin Ganj, Khuda Ganj, Nagariya (of which Asaf-ud-Daula's mother Bah u Begam laid the foundation on the same day as she laid the foundation of Ali Ganj, on the other side of the river), Ambar Ganj, Mahbub Ganj, Gate Khayali Ganj and Jhau Lal Bridge came into being.
A few palaces and a number of mansions (kothis) and Imambaras, both secular and religious buildings, were constructed by his successors during 1775-1861. These were built to commemorate various events that are now part of the architectural and cultural history of Lucknow. The important ones are: Dilkusha Palace, Hayat Baksh Kothi, Farhat Baksh Kothi, Lal Baradari, Chhattar Manzil, Khurshid Manzil, Mubarak Manzil, Shah Manzil, Kadam Rasul, Vilayati Bagh, Shah Najaf Imambara, Chhota Imambara, Tal Katora Karbala and Kaiser Bagh etc.
In 1877, Awadh was amalgamated with the neighbouring province of Agra and henceforth came to be known as the United Provinces of Awadh and Agra. During the British rule, Sir George Couper was appointed as the first Lt. Governor of Awadh and Lucknow underwent rapid changes under his administration. The first was the layout of the city. On account of this, traditional architecture and gardens were damaged, merely to safeguard the British army and civilians. All the buildings situated between the La-Martiniere and the Gomti river acquired by the British army were destroyed. Only a few palaces were left, in the core of the city, between the river and the Chowk. Several religious buildings were taken over by the British and a cantonment and civil lines emerged in the eastern part of the city. Municipal laws were formulated, which had a deep impact on the architecture. The traditional buildings (manzils) were banned and every new construction required approval of the authorities. As the British population grew, police lines, railway quarters, military barracks and cricket ground sprang up. Streets and squares were named after the British generals and civil servants. The Victoria Memorial was constructed on the site of the present Begum Hazrat Mahal Park. The Bagh Club, Tennis Court, Library, and Bar became the epitome of the British concept of leisure, highlighting the difference between the colonial and the Nawabi culture of Lucknow. Hazratganj was re-created as Lucknow's fashionable shopping centre.
Architecturally too, Lucknow witnessed the European influence on the buildings, during the British Raj. Among them are La-Martiniere College, Residency, Chhattar Manzil, Victoria Memorial, the Clock Tower, the Charbagh Railway Station, King George Medical College, and Lucknow University, etc.
Thus, preserving its cultural history for the period of four hundred years, Lucknow remains no doubt the watershed of two major cultural waves, viz., the Indo-Islamic and later the Indo-European. It is known for its tehzeeb, as the city of refined manners and cultured people, which attracts a large number of International visitors even today.
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