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Nawab Asaf ud-Daula, Wazir of Oudh, Lucknow

Mirza Firuz Shah
Shah Alam II 1759–1806

Nawab Asaf ud-Daula, Wazir of Oudh, Lucknow



The accession of Asaf-ud-daula, the fourth nawab wazir of Awadh, brought a great change in Awadh politics. Under the rule of Asaf-ud- daula the court of Lucknow became utterly magnificent and the town of Lucknow acquired great splendour. The capital was finally shifted from Faizabad to Lucknow in 1755 which contributed to its significant growth. The most important outcome of Asaf-ud-daula consolidation of the court at Lucknow, was the emergence of a powerful shia culture, in constant interaction with the shia heart lands of Iran & Iraq. The increasing number of shia emigrants from Iranian cities varitably transformed Lucknow into a great intellectual centre. Asaf-ud-daula was also a great builder: He built the 'Daulat Khana' as a residence for himself to the west of Macchi Bhawan, the Rumi Darvaza and the incomparable Bara Imam Bara. The Imam-Bara & the Rumi-Gate were constructed as a famine relief measure in 1784. Consciously designed by its architect Kifayatullah, the 164 feet long and 52 feet wide building is constructed in brick with high quality limestone. The arched roof of the Imam-Bara, which is built without a single beam, is the largest of its kind in the world. The strength of the edifices can be judged from the fact that although built over 212 years they still stand intact, maintaining their original dignity and grandeur. The Bhulbhulaiya at Bara Imambara, is a unique labyrinth of intricate balconies and passages, with 489 identical doorways, which give the feeling of being lost. He also built the Bibiyapur Kothi. It was built by Asaf-ud-daula as a country residence where he frequently resorted for hunting, of which he was passionately fond. The beautiful Chunhat Khoti was also built by Asaf-ud-daula. General Claude Martin entered the court of Awadh under Asafud-daula, and created the plan of his 'Constantia', The Nawab was so overwhelmed by his design that he decided to purchase it with ten lakh gold coins. But before the transaction could be completed the Nawab departed for his heavenly abode in 1797, and was laid to rest in his magnificent lmambara.. Nawab Asaf-ud-Dowlah is considered the architect general of Lucknow. With the ambition to outshine the splendour of Mughal architecture, he built a number of monuments and developed the city of Lucknow into an architectural marvel. Several of the buildings survive today, including the famed Asafi Imambara which attracts tourists even today, and the Qaisar Bagh area of downtown Lucknow where thousands live in resurrected buildings. The Asafi Imambara is a famed vaulted structure surrounded by beautiful gardens, which the Nawab started as a charitable project to generate employment during the famine of 1784. In that famine even the nobles were reduced to penury. It is said that Nawab Asaf employed over 20,000 people for the project (including commoners and noblemen), which was neither a masjid nor a mausoleum (contrary to the popular contemporary norms of buildings). The Nawab's sensitivity towards preserving the reputation of the upper class is demonstrated in the story of the construction of Imambara. During daytime, common citizens employed on the project would construct the building. On the night of every fourth day, the noble and upper-class people were employed in secret to demolish the structure built, an effort for which they received payment. Thus their dignity was preserved. The Nawab became so famous for his generosity that it is still a well-known saying in Lucknow that "he who does not receive (livelihood) from the Ali-Moula, will receive it from Asaf-ud-Doula" (Jisko na de Moula, usko de Asaf-ud-Doula). To Read More Visit This Book Link Mughal Library

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Ismail Mazari

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Very good information.


The Mughal Images immediately took a much greater interest in realistic portraiture than was typical of Persian miniatures. Animals and plants were the main subject of many miniatures for albums and were more realistically depicted. To upload your images click here.

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