Lucknow is a city that is known for its architectural prowess, its old world charm and all the ancient buildings that dot the cityscape. It is no news that Lucknow is home to monuments and architectural marvels which to this day retain their magnificence, telling the stories of the city's glorious past. From the Rumi Darwaza to Sibtainabad Imambara and many 'kothis' which still adorn the lanes of chowk, Lucknow's architectural splendour takes one back to the Nawabi era when the city was the crown jewel in Awadh's crown.
However, it weren't just the skilled craftsmen and builders who lest their impact on Lucknow's architecture and its buildings. The Lakhauri or Lakhori brick was one of the most important element and a defining building block of Lucknow's architectural masterpieces.
The burnt red Lakhauri Brick
The Nawabi and Mughlai architecture has been standing on solid ground since hundreds of years and even time hasn't really been able to destroy these pieces of history that encapsulate the city's culture and stories within them. Yet, one wonders what exactly made these structures brave time and weather without giving up and the answer would be Lakhauri bricks.
Most Nawabi structures weren't made of huge blocks of stones to ensure they wouldn't wither away with time. However, the Lakhauri brick was used in these to keep time from taking a toll on these magnificent buildings. These bricks made with clay and then baked in huge kilns (oven) called 'Pajawa'. Unlike the 'Ghumma' bricks introduced by the British, which measured 9"x4"x3" in dimensions and later came to be known as 'Gumma' colloquially, the Lakhauri bricks were more slender.
Coming in at 100 mm x 150 mm x 20 mm or 100 mm x 150 mm x 50 mm or 5.9"x3.9"x0.7" and 5.9"x3.9"x1.9", almost 3/4th of the 'ghumma' bricks in every dimension. These slender bricks were plastered or stuccoed together using a mix of lime and crushed up bricks. This stucco made it easier for the masons and the artists to mimic the pattern of stones on these monuments and work their way towards intricate designs. The stucco ensured that floral, animal and motif and geometric patterned walls and pillars could add intricacies and details to the formidable monuments and showcase the prowess of the craftsmen and architects of the time.
The Lakhauri brick has played a big role in turning Lucknow into the city of Nawabs, with Nawabi architecture peeping from every corner of the city. So the next time you see an old building with slender exposed red brick, you'll know that it was the Nawabi architecture's signature and it was this brick which even today helps us tell the story of our city's glorious past.