First Visit to India: Lucknow

Lucknow

I travelled to Lucknow by train. In the afternoon, I visited Bara Imambara which included in its grounds the Asfi Mosque, the Bhulbhulayah (also known as the Labyrinth) and the Bowli (a well). The Bara Imambara witnessed the Mutiny and suffered damage to its buildings (as most of Lucknow).

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This gave me the opportunity to witness some of the areas which British forces and rebels would have been involved in. Lucknow has a rich and complex history but there are many sites that relate to the Mutiny of 1857. This is clearly an important event in Lucknow’s history. The Bara Imambara allowed me to gain a better understanding of all the different cultures involve in the development of Lucknow and how they have left their marks through various structures and buildings. I then visited some of the older sections of Lucknow to witness some traditional work methods such as sewing, washing and ironing.

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I visited the La Matiniere College for Boys. This magnificent building was built as a palace for the resident Frenchman Major-General Claude Martin. In his will, he left the building to be used as a place of education. The building itself saw action during the 1857 Mutiny as it was overrun with Mutineers. I was awed by the plaques the school had raised to commemorate those who had died whilst defending the city. I learned that the boys who survived were sent to the Residency for safety.

Outside of the school, I was surprised to see a cannon which was used at the Battle of Seringapatam. La Martiniere was heavily damaged during the uprising and some of the damage was still evident. The mutineers who gained control of the school desecrated the remains of Major-General Martin. However, once the British regained control of Lucknow, his remains were recovered and reburied. It was interesting to see that his remains are still respected and cared for, even today.

I then moved onto the Residency, one of the most important buildings used during the Indian Mutiny. The buildings of the Residency came about after an officer was appointed as Resident of Lucknow. This was a strategically important area which was naturally defended on three sides. This was used by the British as a ‘safe house’ when the rebels overtook Lucknow.

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Much like the Red Fort, the scale of the area is immense. There were a number of buildings which, although ruined, were still standing. Bullet holes and cannonball holes were still clearly visible in many of the buildings. It was fascinating to see the areas where the British would have been defending their last post. I continued on to the museum. It was fascinating to read the stories of events which occurred during the Mutiny and within that very complex! In one room, there was a hole still in the wall which was left by cannon fire and had killed one of the ladies who lived there.

I continued on to visit Shah Najaf Imambara. This was a mosque that the British stormed during the Mutiny before they moved on to relieve those at the Residency. Rumour had it that mutineers were seeking sanctuary here so the British attacked from the back entrance. Today, it does not seem to bear any scars of this attack, however this is another fascinating piece of history.

The study trip was informative, interesting and exciting. There was a lot of new information which I picked up in regards to the Indian Mutiny and the way in which museums operate while learning about the different people and cultures that make up this diverse country.

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