The British Residency, Lucknow

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The British Residency, Lucknow

Attraction - Address: Mahatma Gandhi Marg, Deep Manak Nagar, Qaiserbagh, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh 226001

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Review of "The British Residency, Lucknow"

published 08/12/2015 | catsholiday
Member since : 03/03/2003
Reviews : 1960
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About me :
Family and days of childminding now keeping me busy but I keep on rating more than writing. Thank you anyone who is kind enough to read then rate my reviews, especially those Es.
Excellent
Pro Beautifully maintained and a tells a story of British resolve
Cons Far too many people died here
exceptional
Prices
Is it worth visiting?
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Family Friendly

"The British Residency, Lucknow"

The British Residency, Lucknow

The British Residency, Lucknow

The British Residency, Lucknow, India

Today Lucknow is the capital city of the state of Uttar Pradesh, India and is apparently the world’s 4th fastest growing city. Historically it has always been a city of culture and has had a number of different rulers over the centuries. In 1856 British East India Company took it upon themselves to take over control of the city and the Awadh and this later was passed to the British Raj in 1857. Obviously it reverted back to Indian control in 1947 when India got its Independence.


THE BRITISH RESIDENCY

This was the area of Lucknow where the British lived during the time of the Raj and what a place it must have been. It was a huge sixty acre area and even though today the buildings are just rather sad shells of their previous glory it is still possible to see the size and appreciate the grandeur they must have had back in the day.

I could just imagine the elegant balls and life within this British enclave with all their servants and paraphernalia. The ladies and gentlemen wearing clothes more suitable for England despite the heat and all the pomp that there was at the time.

The British had a pretty good relationship with the Nawabs and a number of the local India population, mainly Sikhs and these remained loyal to the British throughout the siege.


THE SEIGE

The Siege of Lucknow lasted from May 30 to November 27, 1857, during the Indian Rebellion of 1857. That is a very long time to be trapped in a small area being shot at sometimes and unable to get out for supplies at all. They relied heavily on friendly supporters and pupils from the Martinere school in Lucknow ( I have reviewed this previously on ciao).

The British were under the command of Sir Henry Lawrence, Major General Sir Henry Havelock ,Brigadier John Inglis, Major General Sir James Outram and Lieutenant General Sir Colin Campbell.

There were originally around 855 British soldiers, 712 loyal sepoys, 153 civilian volunteers, and 1,280 non-combatants when the siege began in May. The Residency was a large area to protect comprising of sixty acres and they set themselves up in six main buildings and had four entrenched batteries.

As the siege and battles went on into the year reinforcements arrived which meant that eventually there were around 8,000 men fighting or able to fight on the side of the British. That alone must have been a logistical nightmare having to feed that many with virtually no supplies. Fresh water must also have been a major problem than as people were killed they had to dispose of the bodies either burying them or burning I would imagine.

Those fighting against the trapped British numbered in the tens of thousands up to 30,000 and of course they had access to supplies when needed. They would have been successful if they had had more competent leaderships.

Lucknow was eventually rescued after long and bloody battles in and around the city at the end of November.

The cost to the British was around 2,500 killed, wounded, and missing. The number of deaths on the rebel’s side is unknown. The siege and battles at Lucknow are held up as an example of British determination and courage. The final day’s battle earned more people the Victoria Cross for bravery than any other single day in British history.

The British withdrew from Lucknow at the time but Lucknow was retaken by Campbell the following March in 1858.

A VISIT TODAY

You can walk around the six main buildings and inside what is left of some of them. The gardens are still evident in some places and the entire complex is beautifully kept.

Lucknow itself has to be one of the cleanest Indian cities I have visited. The roads are clean, the places look well kept and there are lovely gardens around the place.

Considering the history of this place I was quite surprised by the reverence and respect with which it is treated by the Indian population of Lucknow.

The buildings are pretty much in ruins but the area and the buildings, what is left of them are now a protected monument declared by the Archaeological Survey of India.
I had recently read a book about the siege and so was quite emotionally haunted by the place. I could imagine the terror of being trapped there and what it must have been like during the battles with canon and bullets shooting at you. Only a thousand of the original inhabitants trapped in these building survived the ordeal.

Within the compound you can visit the graveyard and around 2000 British soldiers and some residents are buried there. The buildings are in the state that they were left following the siege and then the preservation of the site as a historical monument which began in 1920.

Apart from the buildings which you can walk around and the well maintained gardens you can also find the tomb of Sadat Ali Khan, who was the first Nawab of Awadh, Kaisarbagh Palace.

There is also an old observatory built for a Colonel Wilcox, who was a British astronomer back in the time of the Raj.

The museum in the complex costs 5 rupees but I am not sure the actual compound does cost anything. If it did that was included in our tour but we had to pay for the museum if we wanted to go in. We chose to do that as we were there and we like to see everything we can.

In typical India style this is a little faded and limited but well maintained and the information was in English. It is in a portion which was annex of the main Residency building and is cooled only with a few fans so it did give an idea of how hot those buildings must have been with no fans or cooling at all.

Outside the caretaker was enjoying his lunch from a tiffin box and a number of scraggy dogs were sitting looking hopefully at him.

Inside there are two levels, the ground floor and basement. The exhibits are displayed chronologically and consist of a model of the compound at the time of the siege and a number of photos from the time, lithographs, paintings and documents.

There are exhibits of guns, swords, shields, musket cannons, rank badges, medals and other items from the time of the seige. A large Diorama and a number of paintings depict scenes of the battle at the Residency as well as some portraits of local heroes.
It was an interesting little museum, made more poignant because it was in the place where these pictures of events took place and the artefacts were used.

I found myself feeling quite emotional while walking around the compound and kept thinking of how many people had suffered there and how scared they must have been for all those months. I was very surprised and touched at the stories told by our guide and the obvious respect they have for this place.

From the Indian pint of view it was a big battle in the lead up to the main war for Independence so important in that respect but the British history was not pushed aside although at times in the museum the information was just a tad biased in favour of the India viewpoint!

RECOMMENDED?

Yes indeed I would highly recommend Lucknow as a city to visit in India as it is quite different from other cities. I would also recommend visiting this site and the Martinere School site as well as they share a lot of the same history.

I have some photos but my laptop seems to have lost them. I will have to see if I can get them from my husband's digital scrapbook but that may be tomorrow!

Thanks for reading
©Catsholiday

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Comments on this review

  • hiker published 24/01/2016
    Excellent review
  • bettyboo47 published 15/12/2015
    really interesting...E
  • Dentolux published 12/12/2015
    Brill review. Some neat historical tidbits and a good description of the place.
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Product Information : The British Residency, Lucknow

Manufacturer's product description

Attraction - Address: Mahatma Gandhi Marg, Deep Manak Nagar, Qaiserbagh, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh 226001

Product Details

City: Lucknow

Type: Attraction

Continent: Asia

Country: India

Address: Mahatma Gandhi Marg, Deep Manak Nagar, Qaiserbagh, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh 226001

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Listed on Ciao since: 16/03/2015