Kothi Bibiyapur

(Detailed write-up on Kothi Bibiyapur)

About a mile to the south-east of Dilkusha lies the Bibiyapur kothi. The name of kothi attributed to a village located nearby known as Bibiyapur. The two-storeyed building is solid and stands on high ground to command a fine view of the country. Originally surrounded by a big park, its origin is shrouded in obscurity, but it was built under the direction of General Claude Martin for Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula who stayed there from time to time, using it as hunting box. It also served as a transit guest-house for the new incumbent of the British residency when a change of resident took place. It was here in January 1798 that the acting British resident John Shore invited the reigning Nawab, Mirza Wazir Ali, the son and successor of Asaf-ud-Daula, on pretext of consultation and put him under house arrest in the kothi. Shore deposed Wazir Ali and appointed his uncle Saadat Ali Khan who had been summoned from Varanasi to take over as the Nawab Wazir of Oudh. An impressive Durbar was held at the Bibiyapur Kothi for the new Nawab who was taken to the city in a regal procession on the following day.

Years later, in 1856, Colonel Outram received instructions from Lord Dalhousie to proceed to Lucknow from Calcutta to acquaint the King of Oudh with the terms of a treaty. On nearing the Lucknow the newly –appointed Resident was escorted by a detachment of irregular cavalry. The road was lined all the way by crowds anxious to see the man to whom the destinies of their state had been committed. When approaching the Char Bagh, a salute was fired by the Oudh Artillery announcing that the Resident had nearly completed his journey. On these occasions it was the etiquette that the Resident should not enter the city but stay as guest at some garden palace belonging to the King. On his arrival another royal salute from His Majesty’s guns proclaimed the presence of the Resident to the Public. When he had resided outside the city for the time demanded by etiquette, the reigning King advances to meet him with all the pomp and ceremony at his command.

An eye-witness of the occasion when Outram as Resident, in December 1856, describes the scene of splendor. Long before sunrise thousands upon thousands crowded the roads and chambered upon the roof of every building whence they could catch a glimpse of the procession. A guard of honour consisting of the flank companies of the 19th, 34th, and the 2nd Oudh regiments, their colours flying, were drawn up in the park to do honour to colonel Outram and do salute the heir-apparent. The troops were officered by Europeans under the command of major Troupe. Accompanying them was the band of 19th regiment. One can imagine a procession of more than three hundred elephants and camels decorated with a lavish Asiatic splendor with all the princes and the kingdom glittering in gems and gorgeous apparel.

The kothi was offered by the British Resident to King Wajid Ali Shah in February 1856 for his permanent residence at Lucknow with a substantial pension if he agreed to sign his abdication. Wajid Ali Shah refused and this followed the annexation of Oudh by the British East India Company and to exile of the deposed King Wajid Ali Shah to Calcutta.

During the operations for the recapture of Lucknow on March 4, 1858 the riverside near the Bibiyapur kothi was used as a battery by the British Artillery to protect the engineers engaged in the erection of a pontoon bridge to cross the river.

It was declared a protected monument under the A.S.I. in 1917. Since the military dairy farm is annexed to Bibiyapur Kothi and the entry is restricted not much attention was paid towards its preservation. At present, the kothi is going through a sympathetic restoration and the A.S.I. is trying to bring it back to its previous splendor.

Source: Historical Lucknow – Sidney Hay; Lost Monuments of Lucknow – Sayed Anwer Abbas