Safed Baradari

The Safed Baradari does not need a tag- name for identification. Suffice it to say, simply, Baradari refers to the majestic structure built in Qaiserbagh by the last king of Awadh, Wajid Ali Shah [1847-1856]. Built on an elevation of about six feet, it is surrounded by extensive gardens. The interiors are spacious and there are latticed balconies overlooking the main the hall. The enclosed wings on either side run parallel to the main hall and there are open spaces all-round the building which open onto a large chabootra in the front. There are octagonal pavilions at the four corners of the structure and eaves that run about the whole building. The cusped arches, three on each side, are twelve in number. The function of the Baradari has changed over the years. It was built originally as an imambara to mourn the martyrdom of Hussain and his followers at Karbala. After the annexation of Awadh in 1856, the Baradari was used by the British to hold court for petitions and claims. Later, around 1923, it was handed over to the Taluqdars of Awadh and continues to be in their possession even today. A well-known event is during the visit of the Simon Commission to Lucknow in 1928 when the Taluqdars held a tea party for the commission members at the baradari. Due to heavy police deployment, freedom fighters protesting against the commission deployed the unique strategy of flying black kites with “Simon Go Back” painted on them and then cutting the string such that the kites descended on the baradari. It is now used as a space for social functions, poetic symposia, exhibitions and as a popular location for film shootings. The baradari has twice been the venue for the All India Music Conference. This is also where the Mahindra-Sanatkada Lucknow Festival is held each year.


Ram Asrey ki Baradari at Kudia Ghat

A marble plaque embedded in the masonry gives the date of construction as Samvat 1899, making the complex about 180 years old now. The Baradari is built on the embankment of the Gomati just as the slope flattens out to meet the river. It is the only baradari in Lucknow that commands a view of the river. On the opposite side of the same embankment is the entire complex of the Bara Imambara, Rumi Darwaza and the little hillock which has the Tile Wali Masjid. The Baradari complex is built like a quadrangle with an open end that merges into the river. The two arms of the quadrangle are built like a walkway which has a small temple at each end. The main structure has a single storey, six running mehrabs on either side. The construction is regular brickwork and plaster. The cupped arches have a floral motif above the central cusp and the supporting pillars also have designs in stucco. The rooftop has turrets at both the ends and they are connected by a single row of arches supported by wide pillars. Today the baradari houses a contingent of the Provincial Armed Constabulary.

Baradari at Badshah Bagh

In 1877, the first King of Awadh, Ghaziuddin Haider planned a luxurious garden on about 90 acres of land on the northern bank of the Gomti named after his consort Badshah Begum. The final shape of the Bagh was given by his son King Nasiruddin Haider who created an exquisite garden and constructed the Mubarak Manzil and two other buildings as a country retreat for the royal family. In 1905, the Badshah Bagh estate was handed over to the Canning College. In 1920 this became the Lucknow University, and the present Lal Baradari on its campus is part of the former Mubarak Manzil. The Lal Baradari is a rectangular building, carved in sandstone slabs, built on a raised platform with arched openings to provide light and air to the tahkhana. The building is surrounded by arched verandas, 12 arches in all. The arches are foliated and decorated with a bouquet of tesu flowers and a pair of fish carved in relief at the apex. The running verandas enclose three halls, the first is a hammam, the second hall is decorated with beautiful paintings and the third hall is a private imambara for the ladies. At the two corners of the structure there are double storied chattries crowned by onion domes with inverted lotus flowers. There are cornices supported by carved brackets and screened parapets that run around the edge of the roof. These embellishments, the fish, the flowers and the jaalis have been the inspiration for designs in Lucknow’s famous chikan embroidery. The Badshah Bagh has been immortalized as the location of Zoffany’s painting ‘Colonel Mordaunt’s Cock Fight’ in which many notables of the day may be recognized, including Zoffany himself holding a paint brush. This Bagh also became a vantage point for Indian rebels who fired upon Colin Campbell’s relieving forces in an effort to prevent them from crossing the river.

Baradari at Banarsi Bagh

This is a classic baradari which is simply a covered pavilion, devoid of walls, windows and doors allowing unhindered flow of light and air. The baradari occupies a place of prominence in Banarsi Bagh and was built by Naseeruddin Haider, the second King of Awadh. This is also known as Nageene Wali Baradari and it is supposed that its decorative nageenas or precious stones were looted in the mayhem of 1857. Faint traces of fine inlay work can be seen even today in this marble structure. The extensive enclosure of Banarsi Bagh which contains the Baradari, accommodates the Lucknow Zoo. It is managed by the Forest Department, Govt of Uttar Pradesh.

Lal Baradari

Located opposite Chhatar Manzil, the Lal Baradari (also known as Qasr-us-Sultan) was constructed by Nawab Saadat Ali Khan (1798-1814). It is a two-storeyed structure, painted red, and has a large darbar hall which was used as a throne room or coronation hall by the nawabs. After 1857, it was taken over and used by the British—a grand darbar where Lord Canning read Queen Victoria’s proclamation announcing general immunity for her ‘native subjects’ was held here in 1859. The Lal Baradari was later turned into a library and then the State Museum. It currently houses the State Lalit Kala Academy and its ornamented ceilings, pillars and archways are somewhat hidden by the false ceilings and boarded walls of display galleries.

Baradaris at Bagh Baba Hazara

In the now bustling locality of Thakurganj is the open area of the Bagh Baba Hazara complex with three samadhis built in the baradari style. Named after Baba Hazara, an ascetic from the Nank-shahi sect who came from Punjab to Lucknow in the 18th century during the reign of Nawab Shuja-ud-Daula, the complex has three prominent samadhis- of Baba Hazara himself (died 1799) and two other prominent ascetics of the sangat. Baba Hazara’s samadhi is of lakhauri bricks and has painted ornamentation on the walls and domed ceiling of the inner sanctum. The central baradari-samadhi (of Baba Amriti Das) has beautiful embellishment in stucco. The structures have similarity with other nawabi architecture of the time with a central dome and chhatris at the four corners. The corner chhatris are replaced by small temple-shikhars in one samadhi. The complex has a large Kothi with a prominent double-storied gate with the fish emblem and a central courtyard where langar was served. It also has a section where kachehri of the sect was held. The open ground near the samadhis now hosts 10-day performances of the Ramleela and Ravan-dahan at Vijaydashmi.

Qaisarbagh Garden Baradari

The Qaisarbagh complex was mainly erected by Nawab Wajid Ali Shah (1847-56) and was famed for its central garden layout. Although large parts of the garden complex were destroyed and plundered by British troops in 1858, the tranquil beauty of what must have been is reflected in the tiny white baradari that stands in an enclosed garden space close to the Lakkhi gate. One can only imagine how sitting in the elegantly carved marble baradari one could enjoy the pleasures of the surrounding gardens and buildings.

Chaandiwaali Baradari

Located beyond China Bazaar gate on the right, the Chaandiwaali Baradari structure now houses the family Court. The baradari was built by Nawab Saadat Ali Khan and is a lakhauri brick structure that was painted white. Although it is said that it had silver ornamentation, it is likely that the name ‘Chaandiwaali’ derives from the fact that it glittered like silver in moonlight; the building was also called Chandni Kothi in later times. Chaandiwaali Baradari has historical significance as it was here that Prince Birjis Qadr’s coronation as the wali of the exiled Nawab Wajid Ali Shah was held by rebel sepoys in 1857. The structure was heavily built around by the British and by later additions; it is now difficult to fully reconstruct the layout of the original baradari.

The Picture Gallery

This building (now called the Picture Gallery) was constructed by Nawab Mohammad Ali Shah (1837-42) in the Mohalla Husainabad. The ochre coloured two-storey structure is built in the baradari style with a large water pool in the front. In 1882, paintings of the nawabs made by British painters an Indian artist DP Singh were displayed in a part of the baradari and the building became known as the Picture Gallery. It is now a popular tourist spot with visitors to the Asafi Imambara also enjoying a tonga ride to the gallery.

Baradari at Begum Hazrat Mahal Park

To commemorate Queen Victoria after her death, the British made a chhatri in the plan of a baradari. Designed by a British architect called Jacob, the beautiful structure is made of Mirzapur red stone at the base with carved Makarana marble used for the main structure. A statue of Queen Victoria was installed under the chhatri. In 1957, on the centenary of the first war of independence of 1857, the statue was removed and the park surrounding the baradari was renamed Begum Hazrat Mahal Park, in honour of the warrior queen of Lucknow. The park has been the venue of many important events and was once the site for the annual Lucknow Mahotsav.

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