The Nawabs, the British and the city of Lucknow

When the Mughal emperor split India into 12 provinces Lucknow became the seat of the subedar of Awadh. Nawab Sadaat Khan took over the reins of power in 1722, founded the Awadh dynasty and helped establish what would be the finest oriental court that was the ultimate in eastern culture.

In 1775, when Asaf-ud-Daula became the fourth Nawab of Awadh, he decided to shift his capital from Faizabad to Lucknow.

And that unleashed the saga of Lucknow’s incredible journey as the cultural capital of its time. Being an exceptionally wealthy state, the nawabs could well indulge their creative instincts which they did aplenty with their architectural marvels in their religious buildings, the palatial homes, gardens and pavilions. Their patronage of the arts, cuisine and crafts were raised to such great heights they were the envy of the Mughal court in Delhi, for whom the Nawabs had ruled as provincial representatives of the emperor.

The fatal relationship of the Nawabs with East India Company was accelerated by losing of the Battle of Buxar in 1764 and ceding more territories and tribute to the Company. Though Awadh became an independent kingdom/British protectorate in 1816 it did not take long for most Awadhi rulers to become puppet kings in the hands of the British

Navigate through a series of fascinating monuments built by a succession of Nawabs and trace the evolving dynamics of their fatal relationship with the British

  • Chateau de Lyon or the Farhat Baksh
  • Chhatar Manzil Palace complex
  • Afeem Kothi and Kaiserbagh palace complex (Safed Baradari, Lakhi gate)
  • Panoramic view of the city from the top of Saadat Ali Khan’s tomb - a masterpiece of Awadhi architecture with a rare opportunity to stand between the double domes
  • The story of the rise of Colonialism

We navigate through a series of fascinating monuments built by a succession of Nawabs and trace the evolving dynamics of their fatal relationship with the British.

Awadh was a pearl that the British were keen to lay their hands on. When Nawab Shuja- Ud- Daullah made a deal with them to allow a British Resident to have a presence in Awadh, he rang the death knell of Nawabi rule for the kingdom. With Wajid Ali Khan deposed the British sneakily annexed Awadh under the pretence of misrule. The annexation of Awadh sowed the seeds of rebellion and the Indian mutiny.

We explore palace complexes, gardens and streets that witnessed thousands of war-casualties, pour over old maps and lithographs, walk around ruined royal homes with vast underground galleries (being excavated), stand under intricate old archways and double-domed mausoleums with a bird’s eye view of the city. And we ponder over one of the most intriguing phenomena of recent history – the rise of Colonialism!

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