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Tracing the Awadhi 'Lakhori' bricks, the building blocks of Lucknow's Nawabi architecture

The red clay Lakhori bricks are a quintessential hallmark of the Mughal school of architecture in Lucknow.

Lucknow's architecture has always been a magnetic topic for tourists, scholars and historians alike. The marriage of the Indian styles with the Persian arches and the Mughal designs has given it a stark identity, which is typically denoted as the Nawabi school of structure.

However, this characteristic profile is etched deeper than just the outlined designs, right into the fundamental building blocks of these structures. A whole host of monuments in Lucknow boast of towering minarets or intricate arches and the secret formula is nothing but the masonry excellence of Awadh's 'lakhori' bricks.


The multi-purpose lakhori bricks

Structurally flat, thin and red coloured, Awadh's lakhori bricks feature rather frequently in the monumental wonders in Lucknow and Faizabad (now Ayodhya). Its presence has also been traced in some of the haveli turned hotels in old parts of Delhi. Marked as a crucial attribute in several 17th and 18th Century Awadhi buildings, these burnt clay bricks are usually found in the company of lime crushed aggregates- the surkhi mortars.

To put it simply, these bricks can be best defined as 'the jack of all trades', for they could be used to align multiple formats of arches, sculptural facades, to make intricate shapes and even carve fine details on walls and column surfaces. This diversified use of lakhori was possible due to their small size and thinness. Research papers have inked the dimensions of these elements up to 10×15 cm in size and 19 mm in height.

Be it exterior walls or interior designs, lakhori was abundantly preferred in buildings of the yore, to sturdy the delicate arches and bends in the Nawabi structures. The use of a stacked layer of lakhori bricks, instead of a single block, helped to prevent the tear of time and weather. This is precisely why the age-old buildings and monuments in Lucknow have stood their solid ground for several years, without deep cracks or ruins.

Luckily for Lucknow's heritage, these evolved as contemporary 'gumma' structures and were not merely restricted to aged manuscripts and buildings of the past. Even today, lakhori bricks are used in partition walls, buildings based on old-world concepts or those with close and parallel lines.

Knock Knock

The intricacies of lakhori bricks can be seen in the mortar magnificence of the Bada Imamabara, Rumi Darwaza and various other monuments in Lucknow. While these overarching structures are undoubtedly spell-binding, the details at each carve and bend, alsohave the potential to wrap you in its detailed wonders.

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