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Shahnajaf Imambara is a white-domed mausoleum constructed by Nawaz Ghazi-ud-din Haider at Paltan Ghat. He was the last wazir (minister) and the first king of the state of Awadh in 1816-1817, and has been buried at Shahnajaf, which is why this Imambara is also known as Karbala. His wives, Mubarak Mahal, Sarfaraz Mahal and Mumtaz Mahal, are also buried here. The Imambara was a tribute and symbol of his devotion to Caliph Hazrat Ali, the husband of Fatima, who is said to be the favourite daughter of Prophet Mohammed.
Translating to martyrs' memorial, Shaheed Smarak is a white marble structure standing amidst a beautiful park. It was built in 1970 by the Lucknow Development Authority on the banks of River Gomti opposite the Residency, in order to commemorate hundreds of soldiers who lost their lives during the 1857 freedom movement of India. The monument was designed and conceptualised by celebrated architect Prasanna Kothari, and emulates the style of Amar Jawan Jyoti, located at the India Gate in New Delhi, which also pays tribute to the thousands of jawaans who gave up their lives for the security of the nation. You can pay your respect to those who sacrificed their lives for the country, and spend some time exploring the vast grounds while stealing a moment of peace and serenity.
Charbagh Railway Station, one of the two main railway stations in Lucknow, is an architectural marvel that features the best of Rajasthani and Mughal styles, mixed with British influences. The station appears like a chessboard from the sky, with turrets and domes resembling chess pieces. From the front however, it resembles a Rajput palace. Such is the ingenuity of the construction that large water reservoirs are beautifully hidden inside the building. Charbagh was designed by JH Horniman, an Englishman, in 1914.
The station holds immense historical importance and it is said that it was the place where Mahatma Gandhi first met Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. The opening session of the legislature of Congress in 1916 was also held at Charbagh Railway Station.
Surrounded by terraced lawns and gardens, the Residency, overlooking River Gomti, is one of the oldest buildings in the city. Originally, it was built as a large complex of residential quarters, armoury, stables, dispensaries, worship places, for the British General, a representative of the British East India Company, during the rule of Nawab Saadat Ali Khan between 1780 and 1800. Today, the ruins of the building reflect its former glory and allow one to soak in its colonial charm while visiting. The Baillie guard gate, named after Residency’s first resident, Col John Baillie, gives you a glimpse of the architecture and design you will see inside. The treasury, which was completely destroyed during the sepoy mutiny of 1857, and a marble plaque honouring the brave soldiers of that time, are the two structures you will see as you walk towards the main buildings. The banquet hall, still bearing intricate carvings and featuring high ceilings, with a pretty fountain in the centre, will transport you back to the time of grand ballroom dances and opulent parties. Opposite the hall stands Dr Fayrer’s (resident surgeon) house, used as a shelter for the British during the mutiny, as well as a makeshift hospital.
The Residency Museum, within the campus, has collections of photographs, paintings and documents showcasing visual details of the 1857 sepoy mutiny. There is also a memorial for one of the major generals of the British and his wife, in addition to the Brigade Mess, and Begum Kothi, which was occupied by Begum Makhdarah Aliya, a foreigner married to a Nawab. Tourists can also visit the ruins of a church near the Residency.
Sprawling across an area of 107 acres in Gomti Nagar, the Ambedkar Memorial Park was built to commemorate the dedication of reformers like Dr BR Ambedkar, Jyotiba Phule, Sree Narayana Guru, Kanshi Ram, Birsa Munda, Shahuji Maharaj and many others, towards equality, humanity and justice.
The park is built in red sandstone, all of which was brought from Rajasthan. As you enter the park, a 112-ft-high stupa welcomes you. The stupa is surrounded by pillars, elephant structures and statues of Dr Ambedkar, depicting his life in stone. Resembling a flower with flower petals, the sanctum sanctorum has a statue of him seated, facing the dome. As you move deeper inside, you will come across the Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar Samajik Parivartan Sangrahalay, which houses the statues of notaries like Jyotiba Phule, Sree Narayana Guru, and Kanshi Ram. About 18-ft tall marble statues of Gautam Buddha, Kabir Das, and Sant Ravidas etc., can be found in another structure.
One of the historical landmarks of the city, exuding a colonial era charm, the La Martinière College is a gorgeous structure. Established in 1845, it was founded in accordance with the will of Major General Claude Martin. The French-born founder died in Lucknow on September 13, 1800, and the day of his death is observed as Founder's Day. He was buried in the basement below La Martinière Memorial Hall.
The college has a rich history and it was affected by the First War of Independence in 1857. It was forfeited to the British occupation and the principal stocked provisions in order to defend the school.
Identical in design to an ancient gate in Constantinople in Turkey, Rumi Darwaza was built in the 1780s by Nawaz Asaf-ud-Daula, an Awadhi nawab. Also referred to as Turkish Gate, the ornate structure is marked by an eight-faceted umbrella-like structure in its uppermost part. Now a symbol of Lucknow, Rumi Darwaza was earlier used as an entrance gate to the Old City, and soars to a height of 60 ft. It was built to generate employment during the famine of 1784. The architectural style of the gate is distinctly nawabi, differentiated from the Mughal style by the material used – where the latter preferred red sandstone, the formed used bricks coated in lime, allowing for more detailed sculpting, which would be near impossible on stone. The darwaza boasts intricate carvings of flowers. In its prime, the gateway had a huge lantern at the top, which would be lit at night, with jets of water flowing from the arch. For first-time visitors to the city, Rumi Darwaza is a must-see. Almost all the guided tours and heritage walks feature this icon on their itineraries.
Lucknow is full of stellar examples of Nawabi architecture, but there are few that compare to the Chhota Imambara, built by Nawab Muhammad Ali Shah in 1838. The Nawab’s mausoleum, as well as his mother’s, are present here.
The complex comprises of the tomb of Princess Zinat Algiya, the daughter of the king of Awadh, a watchtower known as Satkhanda, a ceremonial gateway called Naubat Khana, and the Husainabad mosque. The Chhota Imambara boasts a gilded dome, several turrets and beautiful chandeliers. It comprises five doorways and Islamic verses have been carved into its exterior walls. There are two main halls, namely Shenasheen and Azakhana. The latter is embellished with gilt-edged mirrors and colourful stuccos, as well as exquisite chandeliers that are said to have been brought from Belgium. It is because of these lamps and crystal chandeliers that this iconic building is also known as the palace of lights.
Bara Imambara is perhaps the most recognisable and popular symbol of Lucknow, and is visited by thousands of tourists all year round.
Built as a relief project to provide work to the people of Awadh during a famine, the Bara Imambara was constructed by Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula during the 18th century, and its name essentially translates to a big place of worship. Its architecture, with delicate arches and jharokhas (windows), boasts Rajput, Mughal and Gothic influences.