On 30th October, we reached Lucknow from Kanpur by road. We booked an Uber cab from Kanpur for Lucknow. We are here for two days, which I knew were not enough to explore Lucknow. We thought of making the best of the time we had in our hands. The well known Imambaaras, surrounding monuments and famous eateries were on the radar.
We started early after having breakfast at the hotel. (It was complimentary, so why leave :p ). We reached the company’s guest house by 11.00 am in Lucknow. We left immediately after having a hot cuppa of tea for “bada Imambara” by an Uber cab only to know that the whole complex is closed due to “chelum”. Many tourists and locals were coming back as no information was available on any website about it. Guides or agents at Imamabaara also mentioned that Aminabad will also be closed. The cab driver suggested that we should go to the “Residency” complex as it will not be closed. We earlier planned to go to residency on 31st , but under the circumstances, the plan is reversed. We changed location in Uber app to “Residency” , so that we continue in the same cab. We were at “Residency” in 10 minutes.
The “Residency complex” is located in the heart of the city and is a group of several buildings which served as the residence of British resident general in the court of Nawab.
The entry to this well kept ruins is nominally ticketed (Rs 15 for Indians, SAARC (Bangladesh,Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives and Afghanistan) and BIMSTACK (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Myanmar) countries, Rs. 200 for all others foreign tourists). It’s open throughout the week. The well maintained ruins is under the tutelage of ASI (Archaeological Survey of India).
The construction of the complex dated back between 1780 -1800 AD during the rule of Awadh Nawab saadat Ali Khan II. The Residency was under siege during Indian rebellion of 1857. This red-brick building was the refuge of around 2000 British natives.
People of Awadh were enraged by the unfair annexation of Awadh by Britishers while Wajid Ali Shah was forced to exile and was in Calcutta (now Kolkata). The people of Awadh were resenting the move and their anger sparked which resulted in unprecedented fury on 30 May, 1857.The Awadh troops defied British authorities and declared a war against seizure. Maulavi Ahmed Ullah was in command and attack on Residency began on 30 June 1857. The British forces were attacked on 1st July, 1857 in a room. Miss palmer, daughter of Colonel palmer was injured in leg by sniper’s bullet. henry Lawrence also fell to the bullets of Awadh revolutionary forces and died on 4th July, 1857 in Dr. Fayrer’s house.
This resulted in a forced captivation of Britishers in residency for almost 3 months. An epidemic broke out in residency and more Britishers died of the epidemic than in combat. On 17th Nov, 1987, Sir Colin Campbell forces could connect with the Residency after a constant fight of 4 days. Residency residents were evacuated only on 22nd November.
The Residency site now consists of ruins of majestic buildings which give an indication to the various nature of activities within the complex. Besides the main Residency building, there was the Sheep house, Slaughter house, Sikh square, Dr.Fayrer’s house, Banqueting hall, the Treasury house, Begum Kothi, the Church, Mosque and the crematoriumthat deserve mention.
A well maintained museum is also in the complex.
It’s a very well maintained complex. All the ruins are without roof but are well maintained. Most of the visitors were young couples who have come to snatch some peaceful lovey dovey moments away from the gaze of the crowd in the city. Few groups of college students were also there who appeared to be history enthusiasts. Two senior citizen couples from Europe appeared to be keen historians and were the only foreign tourists . They appeared to be impressed with the upkeep of the complex. All the buildings in the complex have semicircular arches, an influence of muslim architecture.
As one enters the complex, one finds the “Treasury” building on right hand side. The treasury house is supported by plane coloumns. A vast building constructed in 1851 at a cost of Rs. 16897.00 only. Single story building is supported by double pillars. During the revolution of 1857, it’s central hall was converted into ordinance factory for manufacturing enfield cartridges.
A pillar monument is erected in front of treasury building in the memory of Colonel Robe of Bengal Staff Corps.
Next to Treasury house, was “Banqueting Hall”. It was constructed by Nawab Sadat Ali Khan and probably the most imposing structure in the whole complex. Standing in the middle of the roofless ruins of the complex, I was imagining it’s glory in the good old day. It must be furnished with most lavish furnitures, chandeliers , carpets with excellent food and wines and guests in their finaries – ahh, it must be a sight to behold. A fountain at the entrance is still in working condition.
As one moves little ahead, one passes by Dr. Foyerer’s home. A palatial home with water channels running around and inside the home to lower the temperature in the hot summer days of Lucknow.
We passed by the mosque, Begam Kothi and Flag tower amidst the well manicured gardens
The Model Room, a part of the main Residency Building, which housed a model of Residency as it was before the 1857 War, has now been converted into a full-fledged Museum displaying the original model of Residency, old lithographs, photographs, paintings, documents and period-objects, besides a diorama of Residency siege, giving an accurate visual account of the freedom struggle of 1857 in a chronological and systematic way. Besides, a gallery showing the excavated objects has also been added.
One can take the cameras but bags have to be deposited in the lockers available at the entrance of the museum. Photography is allowed inside the museum.
At the other end of the complex is the burial ground. A young couple was having their meals amidst the graves.
Any one with an interest in history will enjoy this complex. two to three hours are required for an history buff to complete the visit of the complex.