The city of Lucknow is famous for its fascinating history, rich culture and magnificent historical monuments, mostly built during the Mughal and British rule in India.
Lucknow, also known as the “City of Nawabs” is the capital city of Uttar Pradesh (formerly a province of India under the British Raj known as the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, which was shortened to United Provinces by the Government of India Act 1935 and later became a state by the name of Uttar Pradesh).
Lucknow was a major province of the Oudh State and the Mughal Emperors appointed Nawabs (also known as Nawab Wazir’s) to ensure better working of the province of Oudh. Saadat Khan, a Persian adventurer, was appointed as the first “Nawab” of Oudh. The capital of Oudh during his regime was Faizabad.
Shuja-ud-Daula, the third Nawab of Awadh, known for his vital role in two classic battles in Indian History – the “third Battle of Panipat” and the “Battle of Buxar”, was defeated by the British and was forced to pay huge penalties and surrender territories. The British Agents, formally known as ‘residents’, had their seat in Lucknow and gradually acquired control of more authority in the state.
Shuja-ud-Duala was succeeded by his son Asaf-ud-Duala who shifted the capital of Oudh from Faizabad to Lucknow in the year 1775 and transformed the city of Lucknow into an architectural wonder.
His love for architecture brought him nearer to Major General Claude Martin, who was an architectural genius and had moved to Lucknow around the same time when Asaf-ud-Daula shifted the capital of Oudh to Lucknow. Asaf-ud-Daula was very much impressed with the design of “Constantia”, the palatial building which now houses the present day La Martiniere College for Boys, as per the will of Claude Martin.
The magnificent building of the La Martiniere College is also known for the role it played during the Mutiny of 1857 and the contribution of the staff and the boys, who served during the Mutiny, were all awarded the Indian Mutiny Medal inscribed with the words “Defence of Lucknow”.
At Lucknow, the revolt broke out in May 1857, and Sir Henry Lawrence, who had succeeded Mr. Jackson as Chief Commissioner, received reports of a force of rebels making their way to Oudh. What followed was a battle that forced the company’s officers to withdraw and take shelter in the Residency, which was built in between 1780 to 1800 AD and was used as the residence of the British Resident General who was a representative in the court of the Nawab. The British Residency served as a refuge for the Europeans and the British, including about 700 loyal sepoys, during the time of the uprising of 1857.
The tension in Lucknow was obvious as the unjustified annexation of Oudh (Awadh) and subsequent exile of, Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, the last Nawab of Oudh had aroused great resentment amongst the people and native regiments stationed there and around the same time the rebels who won a resounding victory at the battle of Chinhat, recognised the authority of Begum Hazrat Mahal, wife of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah. Begum Hazrat Mahal remained the primary leader of the rebels throughout the duration of the siege, till she was forced to retreat by the British, post revolt of 1857.
On the other hand, Mr. George Schilling, the then Principal of La Martiniere prepared the college for a siege as the Chief Commissioner, Henry Lawrence, was preparing the Residency. Accordingly, Henry Lawrence ordered the staff and the boys of La Martiniere to move into a house on the southern perimeter of the Residency, which later became famous as the “Martiniere Post”. Throughout the 146 days of the siege, the boys played a major role in defending the Residency.
Sir Henry Lawrence carried out the defence and counter initiative but was fatally wounded by a shell on the morning of July 2, 1857, and succumbed to his wounds two days later. His death is reported to be the first important British casualty in the history of the mutiny.
The command of the besieged Residency then fell on Brigadier Inglis, who bravely defended the place against numerous assaults until Havelock and Outram fought their way at the point of the bayonet into the Residency on the 25th September with much needed reinforcements.
General Niell died at this time at Lucknow. Inglis, Havelock and Outram could not make their way out with the besieged garrison. Their final relief was affected by the middle of November by Sir Colin Campbell (afterwards Lord Clyde), who came from England as Commander-in-chief of the Indian Army in August, 1857.
Sir Colin Campbell took vigorous action to suppress the mutiny and finally brought Lucknow under British control on the 21st March, 1858. To calm down the after effects of 1857 revolt, the control of the Indian Government was finally assumed by the Crown (Queen Victoria) through Government of India Act 1858 passed on the 2nd August 1858 by the Parliament of the United Kingdom. This era of the new British Raj lasted only till August 1947.
Post Independence, Lucknow was declared the capital of the state of Uttar Pradesh by the Government of India. Since then it has progressed beautifully and is now a major metropolitan city of India and is famous for the existing tourist attractions in Lucknow which include: Bara Imambara, Chota Imambara, La Martiniere, Jama Masjid, Qaisar Bagh, Rumi Darwaza, Shah Najaf Imambara, Dilkusha Kothi, Residency, Clock Tower, Council House (Vidhan Sabha), Aurangzeb’s Mosque, Hazratganj, Cathedral Church, British Residency, Hazrat Mahal Park, Forest State Museum & Zoo etc.