Northern India during the latter half of the 18th century must have been absolutely beautiful. The area was home to the kingdom of Awadh, sometimes spelled ‘Oudh’ in older British texts and maps. Positioned near major rivers, Awadh was highly sought-after land as it was surveyed by encroaching Brits and contested for by the neighboring Marthas and Afghans. Multiple generations of rulers known as Nawabs looked after the citizens of Awadh while forging a beautiful city and culture. They built a wealthy kingdom able to protect itself. However, the Nawabs of Awadh began navigating the heavy hand of British imperialism in 1775 as their territories were divided and ultimately annexed.
In 1775, the fourth Nawab of Awadh, Asaf-ud-Daula, sought to maintain the flourishing culture of his kingdom after moving the capital from Faizabad to Lucknow. This transition moved the seat of power but also made Lucknow one of the most prosperous and glittering cities in India. As the fourth in line by blood to rule Awadh, Asaf-ud-Duala was no stranger to aesthetics, grandeur, and display; thus, blessing his capital and the world with cultural vibrancy and unique diversity. The Bara Imambara and Rumi Darwaza are two magnificent structures completed during Asaf-ud-Duala’s reign that speak to the uniqueness of Awadh.
The splendid Rumi Darwaza.
First, the Bara Imambara is the elegant hall and burial site for Asaf-ud-Duala. It features sprawling gardens and arcade-style underpasses that create a dynamic division between the lush inner-courtyard and the beautiful stone halls. It includes a maze of passageways and there’s a legend that a tunnel was constructed from Lucknow all the way back to the former capital, Faizabad.
Second, the Rumi Darwaza stands at 60 feet tall to welcome travelers in an out of the city. The extremely ornate arched gate is a beautiful example of Awadhi architecture and cultural style. Some of the beauty that was developed in Lucknow sadly succumbed to British influence as their hands dipped further and further into the population’s way of life. Awadh represents an untold history of India’s beautiful lost history. The remnants of the beautiful Awadh now remain in Lucknow apart of Uttar Pradesh, a state of northern India.