Lucknow is most famously known as the city of Nawabs. The name, though many think is given to the city because it was ruled by the Nawabs for many years, is more so because of the impact the Nawabs had on Lucknow's culture and its common life.
Much like a lover looking up to his beloved or a devotee to his 'master' for inspiration, Lucknow too coloured itself in the colours of the Nawabs that ruled the city & its gentle people. So here's reminiscing the olden days and taking a glance at everything that the Nawabs of Oudh built and bestowed Lucknow with.
Asaf-ud-Daula the fourth nawab of Oudh was undoubtedly the rock, the centre of change that happened in the city and a flag-bearer of development that Lucknow saw. Under his rule, a great focus was cast on Shia culture, as a result intellectuals from Iran & Iraq flocked the city making it a revered spiritual and cultural hub.
Asaf-ud-Daula was also the nawab who built the glorious Rumi Darwaza, the Bara-Imambara and the Daulat Khana during the great famine. He not only provided the poor with food and jobs but also made an unforgettable indent in Lucknow's architecture and culture.
Saadat-Ali-Khan was the 6th Nawab of Awadh and the younger son of Asaf-Ud-Daula. Much like his father, he too is credited with building several grand palaces, including Dilkusha, Hayat Baksh Kothi, Farhat Buksh Kothi (Chhatar Manzil) as well as the famous Lal-Baradari.
Chhatar Manzil remained the royal residence for the future Nawabs until Qaiserbagh palaces were built by Lucknow's last nawab- Wajid Ali Shah. It was during Saadat-Ali-Khan's time when the ancient Awadhi style of architecture was blended with European style to give way to a more modern architecture style.
The seventh Nawab of Awadh, Gazi-ud-din-Haider was a man of religion and like his predecessors- a builder. He is known to have given Lucknow the 'Shah Najaf Imambara' (presently near the Saharaganj Mall), a mausoleum that is the replica of prophet Ali's burial place at Najaf in Iraq.
He also commissioned the construction of 'Vilayati Bagh' and is known for starting the 'Vasiqa System', a trust which took care of all the 'Imambara's and the 'Ibadat Ghar's of Lucknow.
Muhammad Ali Shah, 1837-1842
Son of the late Saadat-Ali-Khan and the ninth Nawab of Awadh, Muhammad Ali Shah acceded to the throne at the age of 63. He was the one to commission the building of the regal and stunning, Chhota Imambara; however he died long before the Imambara could be complete.
He is also known to have started the building of the area around the present day, clock tower and called it Satkhanda.
Wajid-Ali-Shah, the son of Awadh's 10th Nawab, Ajmad Ali Shah, was the eleventh and the last nawab of Lucknow. A keen artist, writer and a poet himself. Wajid Ali Shah greatly influenced the literary and artistic scene of Awadh.
He also built the Qaiserbagh complex which housed Baradari, Chandiwali Baradari, Lakkhi gates, Badshah Manzil (the nawab's residence), Chaulakkhi Kothi (which was mainly resided by ladies of the royal harem) and the Roshan-ud-daula kothi (or Qaiser Pasand).
Apart from the architectural and the cultural gifts that the nawabs gave to Awadh, they also bestowed it with its cuisine. Known epicures, the nawabs fine-tuned and perfected Mughlai cuisine and created their own niche- a rich variety of dishes that are famous world-wide. Know anything interesting about the nawabs? Comment below!