No matter what list, article, paper and journal you read about Lucknow, the British Residency finds a place in them all. The ruin of what was once the residence to the British General of Awadh and his troops, is one a huge part of Lucknow history. Yet, the compound and its history have so long been forgotten that people merely look at the residency as a “monument” that you can visit if you have nothing to do or nowhere to be.
The compound that house the testament of one of the most testing time in the history of Lucknow, today hosts couples entwined in each others arms, trying to find privacy where there is none. The ironic part is, that today the significance of residency has been reduced to just that.
Let’s take a trip down the history lane
The British Residency was built by the Nawab of Awadh Asaf-ud-Daula and then completed by Nawab Saadat Ali Khan in the late 1700s. The fact is that the nawab built this lavish compound to appease the British General while the rest of the nation was trying to drive them away. The residency hence, became a blotch on the face of the city that stood tall as the cultural hub.
The Sepoy Mutiny
Awadh was in the center of the unrest that was caused during the first rebellion against the British in 1857. The sepoys of Hindu and Muslim belief did not fare well with the cartridges that had both beef and pork fat and thus, the defining moment of India’s history, found its genesis.
The Sepoy Mutiny and the Siege of Cawnpore did not restrict itself to Kanpur, it spread like wildfire in the entire country and Lucknow was scorched.
The sepoys revolted against the army they had been fighting for and what better way to express their angst than by attacking the residence of the British Governor. The British Residency in Lucknow stood tall, an ode to the power that the British had, and the natives knew that they had to take it all away.
Hence, the residency was attacked. To this day, it bears the signs of the anger of the native and the rebellion that began to finally give India its freedom. Thus the ruins of the British Residency are akin to the shiny badge of honour that the rebels worn.
The ruins of British Residency in Lucknow are an integral part of the city, if not the country’s history and not a monument to hide out at or forget about.