The exquisite white marble Safed Baradari in Lucknow’s Qaiserbagh has a basement ‘crypt’ that had been locked down for many years and hence out of bounds for the public.
Most people are unaware of its existence but residents of Lucknow will now be able to see the never-before-seen ‘tehkhana’ crypt which will open at the Sanatkada festival on February 1.
Built by the last Nawab of Oudh- Wajid Ali Shah in 1854, this tehkhana is believed to be a lake initially and then constructed as a platform attached to the majestic Baradari complex.
The cellar is believed to have remained closed since the annexation of Oudh by the British and it was only last year that the renovations of the crypt began.
The cellar was in an extremely dilapidated condition according to an official at British India Association of Oudh.
In the Nawabi era Safed Baradari housed many tazias- the replicas of the mausoleums of prophet Muhammad’s martyred grandson- Imam Hussain, that were prepared for the Muharram processions.
These heavily bejeweled ‘tazias’ would be brought down to the crypts to be washed in the lake.
Residents of Lucknow will be able to witness the historic ‘tehkhana’ located in the 165 year old Safed Baradari for the first time ever during the 10th edition of Sanatkada festival which will commence on February 1.
The five-day long Sanatkada Festival celebrates the local artists and craftsmen of Awadh and focuses on bringing awareness to the lost arts.
Constructed out of white marbles, Safed Baradari was built by the last Nawab of Oudh, Wajid Ali Shah in 1854 and it marks the end of the era of the Nawabi/Mughal architecture in the city.
Though originally an Imambara- a place of worship, the pristine white colour of the building is responsible for its name.
The building was named Qasr-ul-Aza and was meant to be used as a palace of mourning for prophet Imam Hussain’s martyrdom.
After the annexation of Oudh in 1856 the Baradari was used by the British to hold court and listen to the petitions of officers and nobles.
It was handed over to the taluqadars of Awadh later on as a token of appreciation for the submission and loyalty to the Queen of the British Empire.