Roshan-ud-Daula Kothi, Lucknow, India


Lucknow, The Kaisar Pasind
c. 1910

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The construction of #Roshan ud-Daula Kothi now known as #Old UP State Archeology Department was built by the Ghazi-ud-din’s chief minister, Roshan-ud-Daula(1827- 1837). #Nawab Wajid Ali Shah confiscated the building from him in around 1847. The Kothi is wonderful example of European and Mughal Architecture.
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It has been the case with most of the States in India, and it was the same with the rule of Nawabs in Awadh, that corruption in its administration was a dominant factor that allowed the East India Company to use the nobles and officers of the Court to be unfaithful to the Nawabs or Kings and pre-empt resistance to their cunning devices. The employees of the Nawabs profited from both sides [the King and the British Resident as well]. When they feared any action and expected the King’s wrath, they were protected by the British, who would shelter them and even provide a source of income for their sustinance at Kanpur or any other place under their control. We have the examples of two Chief Ministers of Awadh as such. Coincidently, both of them built palatial buildings that vied in their lavish extravagance, decoration and ornamentation with the King’s palaces. One of these Chief Ministers was Mohammed Hussain Khan, mostly known by his title of Roshan-ud-Daulah. He held the Chief ministership for a major part of the second King, Naseer-ud-Din Haiders reign (1827-1837). Having the backing of the British East India Company and with the King’s liking for European ways, he was unhindered in deriving much benefit for himself and his near and dear ones.

It is not unusual then that the Kothi built by Roshan-ud-Daulah for himself in the Indo-French style was unique in its grandeur and vied with the palaces built by the Nawabs and Kings of Awadh. When H.G. Keene [in A Handbook for visitors to Lucknow] described the Kothi in 1896, he said that it was ‘a still more fantastic structure than the great palace itself with which, however, it tallies well. Iconic columns, balustrades with globe like finials, Moorish minarets, Hindu umbrellas, arches, pediments, lanterns are all blended in a confusion which the eye may long seek vainly to disentangle, and surmounted with a gilt band’. Post-Mutiny photographs of the original Kothi show a semi-circular gilt band on the top of the six storeyed building. Four square kiosks with canopies in the French fashion, along with small chhatries and gumbads (dome) appear at a lower level. They also show an impressive garden and a small mosque attached to the building on one side.
Lucknow.me

Roshan-ud-Daula built a palatial house that costed a lot of money and took great deal of time too. In the house Roshan-ud-Daula placed a life-size painting of King Nasir-ud-Din Haider that actually impressed the King so much that the King named this Kothi (large palatial house of royalty is so referred) as ‘Qaiser Pasand’. Though there is a bit of difference in this fact among some old historians, some opine that Qaiser Pasand was a different building though also built by Roshan-ud-Daula. . . . rimarily it was a four storey rectangular stricture with angled (oblique) corners, a kind of canted facade similar to Baroque architecture on one of the front, while regular bay on another and yet another front has a huge portico. The building has small balconies and courtyards along with stairs on each of its side. This building came up on a tank which was much lower than the normal ground level and that is the reason that the ground floor is lower than usual. . . .The ceilings of the two grand halls are still the same as they were earlier and there has been no structural change in that, even though periodic changes were made after 1860s when this building came under the British and was converted into an office. The weight of the building is evenly distributed through many small beams onto a large one which resets of the wide walls, though these walls too are not that wide considering the size and number floors that Kothi Roshan-ud-Daula has. Copper covered domes and interestingly a half dome too, adorned the top of the building with extensive use of pottery along with copper ware in this building. The half dome or call it a ‘sliced dome’ resembles the rising sun and all the domes of Kothi Roshan-ud-Daula when existed were covered with copper.

During the rebellion of 1857 this building was controlled by the rebel forces and the godown of Kothi Roshan-ud-Daula was used by the mutineers to imprison the British captured alive. Most of these British were captured in Dhaurahra, estate near Lakhimpur Kheri, many were killed there itself while those alive were brought here. A few British among the imprisoned tried to escape through a tunnel dug by them for the purpose. All these were caught before they could escape and were taken to another site close by to be killed all together. One of the rebel leaders, Raja Jiya Lal was held responsible for all these killings and was hanged on 1st of October 1859. After surviving the mindless destruction of Kaserbagh and its periphery by the British in revenge of the mutiny of 1857-58, Kothi Roshan-ud-Daula in early 1900s for some reason was devoid of top two floors, that made it much shorter than originally it was and the glorious crown atop this magnificent building was gone, so was it devoid of arches and the domes. Today Kothi Roshan-ud-Daula houses the office of state archaeology, Lucknow district’s election office and a store of government files and records.
Tornos India

Birbal’s House, Fatehpur Sikri , India

Master Page: Fatehpur Sikri


Palace of Birbol, Futtehpore Sikri, Agra
c.1910

Rajah Birbal was a Brahman minstrel, who came to Akbar’s court in the beginning of his reign, and by his wit and abilities gained the Emperor’s favour. He was first created Hindu Poet Laureate; from that dignity he was raised to the rank of Rajah, and became one of Akbar’s most intimate friends and advisers. Birbal was one of those who subscribed to Akbar’s new religion, “The Divine Faith.” When he perished in an unfortunate expedition against some unruly Afghan tribes, Akbar’s grief was for a long time inconsolable.

The house which is named after him was originally enclosed within the precincts of the imperial zanana, and a covered way connected it with Jodh Bai’s palace. It is one of the most richly decorated of all the adjacent buildings, and next to Jodh Bai’s palace, the largest of the imperial residences. As in so many other instances, the vague local tradition which assigns this palace to Rajah Birbal seems to be at fault. Abul Fazl, that most careful and precise biographer, records that Akbar ordered a palace to be built for the Rajah, and that when it was finished in the twenty-seventh year of his reign (1582) the Emperor honoured it with his presence. An inscription discovered by Edmund Smith upon the capital of a pilaster in the west façade of the building, states that it was erected in Samvat 1629 (A.D. 1572), ten years before this date, and three years after the commencement of the city.

Though the Rajah was one of Akbar’s most trusted friends, his palace would hardly be placed within the enclosure of the Emperor’s own zanana and connected with it; nor is it likely that Akbar would provide Birbal with a residence so incomparably more magnificent than those he gave to his other two intimate friends, Abul Fazl and Faizi, by the side of the great mosque. All the probabilities are that this was one of the imperial palaces occupied by Akbar’s wives, which were the first buildings erected at Fatehpur. Fergusson’s assumption that Birbal’s daughter was one of Akbar’s wives would explain everything; but the fact that Abul Fazl makes no mention of such a daughter, is very good evidence that Akbar was not connected with Birbal by marriage.

The house is a two-storied building, splendidly ornamented with carving, both inside and out. From the construction, it would appear that Hindus were the architects; but the decoration, from which it is easy to discover the taste of the occupants, is nearly all Arabian or Persian in style, and conveys no suggestion that the palace was built for a Hindu rajah or his daughter. Though on a much smaller scale, it is of the same type as Akbar’s splendid palace in the Agra Fort, and was evidently intended for one of the highest rank in the imperial zanana.
A Handbook to Agra and the Taj Sikandra, Fatehpur-Sikri and the Neighbourhood (1904)