Musa Bagh… An unknown treasure at the outskirts of Lucknow

Abhishek
Musa Bagh
Musa Bagh

After staying in Lucknow for quite some time, I had visited almost all the major heritage attractions of the city. I was looking for some off beat place to explore. While reading about the freedom struggle of India and capture of Lucknow (Awadh), I came to know about this place called Musa Bagh. It was the last place occupied by the Indian rebels under leadership of Begum Hazrat Mahal ,against the British at Lucknow with a force of 9000 men, before its final capture by the British. It is located near to the Imambara, however , not known to many. The building is located near to the bank of Gomti river.

Facade of Musa Bagh
Musa Bagh
Musa Bagh

How to Reach…

Musa Bagh lies on the outskirts of Lucknow near Dubagga on IIM-Hardoi road.Going towards IIM, you have to turn right hand side near the Gomti bank at M.C. Saxena college /Jehta more and move for about a km.You can also come here after visiting chhota Imambara. Just drive ahead a little opposite to the direction of Bada Imambara, and then turn left to reach Napier street. Then Turn right and continue to reach IIM-Hardoi road and follow above path or stop at Sri Pawan Sut Hanuman mandir (Temple).Turn right towards Vasant Kunj and keep moving straight ahead till you reach Musa Bagh.

Musa Bagh

History…

Musa Bagh was built in 1803-04 by Saadat Ali Khan, the sixth nawab of Awadh. Initially, it was a walled Nawabi charbagh (garden) laid out by Nawab Asaf-ud-daulah. Europeans sometimes referred it as Barowen.It was built as a country house, inspired from the designs of Claude Martin. It was mostly used for entertaining guests, watch stag fighting between animals near the Gomti river bank and for hunting. Behind the structure was kiosks with spiral steps which led to the charbagh garden .

The building was built with vertical stacking of rooms to fulfil the large space requirements of the royal household. The facade was three storeyed and European styled on a raised platform which was accessed via a flight of semi circular steps. The interior of the building had a large sunken courtyard which was surrounded by small rooms and kiosks. The rear part was used as a summer residence as it was relatively cooler while the front part was used during the winters.

Near to the building is the tomb of Syed Imam Ali where Melas are held on new moon and Vasant Panchmi.Behind the building , is also the grave of Captain F. wales, of Sikh Irregular Cavalry, who was killed on 21st march 1858, during the battle with rebels at Musabagh.Wales entered the East India Company’s service in 1840 and later became a lieutenant and then appointed as a Brigade-Major. He commanded the first Sikh irregular cavalry in Peshawar before coming to fight in the battle of 1857.The villagers worship his cemetry as Kaptaan Baba and offer cigarette,alcohol,food ,flowers and other such stuffs and seek his blessings.The tomb was erected by Captain L.B. Jones who served as the acting commandant of the first Sikh cavalry.

Captain Wales Cemetry (Source:- Aounaqvi / CC BY-SA)

The importance of this building can be seen by the fact that it was offered twice to the British as one of the alternative sites in lieu of the other prominent place of Lucknow, the residency. However, the British did not accepted it and finally dispossessed the rulers and became its owner in 1856.

The Visit…

Musa Bagh

I reached this place through the IIM Hardoi road.After turning from this road near the Gomti bbank which has now been converted into a large ggarbage dumping yard, to take the approach road to Musa bagh, it becomes too dusty and bumpy as the road is not properly built and is muddy at some parts.Some construction work is also going on for the road and hopefully it will soon be completed.Just moving about a few distance , this ruins of this structure will be visible from the road itself.

Musa Bagh

After reaching the building, I felt so sad to see the bad and ruined condition of the building.The roof of the building was no more and only few of the walls remain standings.Though the building was a protected monument by Archaelogical Survey of India, still no sort of protection or security was visible.The children of the nearby village could be seen climbing and roaming on the walls of the structure.

Musa Bagh

I stepped up using the broken semi circular stair to reach the level of the building to see what once used to be a wonderful architecture in the region. The plaster of the walls are mostly fallen off revealing the lakhouri bricks of the walls .Some part of the beautiful columns which reached the upper storeys can still be seen. There are rooms in the part nearer to the facade followed by a large sunken courtyard at the rear side. The sunken feature used to keep the structure cool during the summer. The courtyard has a well in the centre and is surrounded by galleries which used to have room inside. At the corners of this courtyard, there are two kiosks with broken spiral staircases. On some of the walls, the beautiful plaster is still intact, the beauty of which says a lot about its architecture. Even though, the staircase is broken, the locals have created alternative paths to reach the top of this buildings. Frequent climbing to the walls has lead to further deterioration of the building.

Musa Bagh

Way to Musa Bagh from Lucknow Charbagh Railway station

Further readings…

This place though lost and in ruins, is coming back in limelight slowly.Research study and Efforts to restore it to its earlier condition is being worked upon.Archaelogical survey of India has already marked it as a protected monument.One such restoration proposal is done by Dr. Amita Sinha, former professor of University of Illinois. Her research work for further reading sources are linked below.

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