Kothis of Awadh: Exploring the 18th century Bibiyapur Kothi, a living testament of Lucknow's past
With stored treasures of historical facts, legends of the past, architectural anecdotes, and more, the Bibiyapur Kothi is one of Lucknow's heritage living sites. Built by Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula (the Nawab wazir of Oudh between 1775-1797), the two-storeyed kothi is located on the banks of river Gomti.
Did you know that, underpinned by age-old Lakhauri bricks, the palatial has secrets galore in its embrace? For the building comprises grand halls with high ceilings, a unique and mystical spiral staircase (which is a lesser-found entity in a kothi of such sort), and arched doorways. With the architect's structural genius portrayed in rafters and wooden beams in the kothi, the place is designed with extreme expertise.
The history of the Bibiyapur Kothi
So, we do not say this without a reason that the place is a solid instance of an architectural marvel in the city of Nawabs. The structure has both Awadhi and French influence, and is said to have been designed by Swiss adventurer and soldier Antoine Polier in a neo-classical style.
Legend has it that Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula used the house as a country retreat, away from the tension of the court and as a place for hunting. And after his demise, tales from the past (more precisely, January 21, 1798) also suggest that it was here where Nawab Saadat Ali Khan was crowned as the king by British official John Shore.
After the British annexation, the kothi was captured and thereafter used by the colonialists for military celebrations and feasts. One story also narrates the house arrest of Wazir Ali Khan (Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula's adopted son) by the British.
The regal kothi today
Today, the once regal kothi isn't in as great shape as we'd expect and was declared a protected site in 1917. It has been placed under the Archaeological Survey of India's protection.
Even though the residence is currently administered by the Indian Army, its gates are still open to general public to explore secrets and narratives from the 18th century.