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DAR-I-DAULAT literally means 'gateway to wealth'. It is a Persian term generally used in Urdu to denote courteously the address of a notable person. Another complimentary Persian term is Daulat Khanah meaning the 'house of wealth'. These two terms need not necessarily be applicable to particular places but, in the context of the history of Lucknow, by long usage of course, they acquired a significance of their own. The two terms pin-pointed the palace of the feudal lord, the Nawab Vazir, and its main gate, the fountainhead of all opulence and honours to his vassals. Daulat Khanah also became a proper name in due course leaving no doubt about the place designated by this name. But where, if at all, was this Dar-i-Daulat? And what happened to it?

       An enquiry of this nature leads to source material in Urdu. Even the latest very learned work in English stops just short of informing us that after the Daulat Khanah of Asif ud Daulah, Farah Bakhsh of Sa'adat 'Ali Khan became:

the longest inhabited palace in Lucknow and the chief Nawwabi residence from 1803 to 1850 when the Qaiserbagh was completed1

and that:

the Lal Barahdari (so called from the dark red paint employed over the stucco to imitate red sand stone) which had been the grand durbar hall of Saadat Ali Khan, but which became the Throne Room and Coronation Hall of Ghazi-ud-din Haider 2


was a part of the Farah Bakhsh complex. The enquiry for Dar-i-Daulat therefore narrows down to a place in the vicinity of Lal Barahdari (or Painted House of Lt. W. Morsoom).

The assumption is further strengthened by this anecdote:

When Mirza Bulaqi, son-in-law of the emperor of Delhi, and Mirza Kochak Sultan, son of Bahadur Shah, arrived [in the reign of Mirza Birjis Qadr] they were lodged in Chatar Manzil but their residence close to Dar-i-Daulat was viewed with apprehension generally as the regal seat was within easy reach of resourceful ambitious persons.3


For zeroing in on the exact location of Dar-i-Daulat, the published English works are not satisfactory. The conquerors who launched three major military campaigns (in September 1857 and March 1858) left for posterity a confusing mass of material with charts, photographs, maps, memoirs and diaries that did not mention at all by name a silent sentinel that had witnessed all this and more. On the other hand there is hardly any contemporary account of those times in Urdu which does not refer to some momentous event of Oudh's history without reference to Dar-i-Daulat somewhere in the background. No excuse is therefore needed to quote translations of some pertinent portions in Urdu for whatever they are worth; but first, a rendition of one patriotic poetic account of Lucknow's historic buildings which goes to show that at least the name Dar-i-Daulat survived the ravages of time till early in the twentieth century.

Maulawi Sayyid Husain Sha'ir Lucknawi, a respected religious preacher and a poet of considerable merit, who died a septuagenarian in 1956, had the good fortune of seeing people who had seen the brief bloody reign of Mirza Birjis Qadr. In one of his prize winning poems published in 1929 he invites the Rain Clouds to come and:

See the grave of Asif ud-Daulah and his Hall of Mourning,

The Chatar Manzil is a club now. See the change from good to bad.

See also Dilkusha, so heart-warming once, so heart-broken now,

The dusty winds sweeping Dar-i-Daulat relate how it's laid waste.

If you still wish to see more to add to your woes,

What of flowers, there is not even their fragrance in Qaisar Bagh.

There is a footnote to all the proper names above. The one underlying Dar-i-Daulat points out:

The royal palaces have all been dug out but a gate by this name is still there near the bridge close to Moti Mahal4


Taking this unchallenged statement as a working premise, it is necessary to refer to other available evidence to see if the facts conform to the name ascribed to it.

The very first point that negates this premise is a contemporary account of Dar-i-Daulat's conspicuous top:

The British gunners were such expert marksmen that they could spy out a target on mere sound. On one occasion they fired a shell so accurately that the hand of a black statue on the top of Dar-i-Daulat was blown up.5


There is no statue now on the top of the so-called Dar-i-Daulat.

The gate as it stands today in its forlorn state in the south-west corner of Hazrat Mahal Park had adjoining walls that cordoned it off from Ramna-i-Shahi (Palace Garden) and Hiran Khanah (Deer Park), subsequently called Dooly Square by Major Gubbins as the doalies (litters) carrying the wounded soldiers of General Havelock's Relief Force were abandoned here. The walls that effectively checked the progress of Havelock's army causing great suffering to them in this part and the one running parallel to those walls to mark off the interior of the places are no longer there. A quotation from Dr Rosie Llewellyn Jones seems apt in explaining the present landscape:

The courtyards and passageways that stood between the Qaisar bagh and the Chattar Manzil disappeared, with the exception of the Sher Darwaza, or Lion Gate, which had an emotive significance for the British because one of the officers of the relieving force in March 1858 died under the gateway.6


The learned scholar has somehow erred by giving us a wrong date, by not giving us the name of the officer and by stating that he died under the gateway. The records can be put straight to some extent by referring to the inscription on the memorial tablet far enough from the Sher Darwaza. It reads:

1857 A.D.

*It is sweet. It is befitting to die for the country.


It is possible to reconcile the two apparently inconsistent statements by arguing that General Neill, when mortally wounded, was brought under the protective shelter of the gateway where he ultimately breathed his last.

What is puzzling however is the assertion that it was "a shot fired from the top of the adjacent gateway", and the absence of any report on the part of sufferers that after occupying the "adjacent gateway" they scaled its walls to liquidate the enemy. The gateway is not high enough and has no battlements, now at least, to cover the defenders. The Qaisar Bagh or the Chatar Manzil complex was not built to withstand the onslaught of military action. Even the ill-equipped rabble of Padshah Begum could reduce Dar-i-Daulat to a condition worse than the garhi (fortress) of a zamindar.7

The native eye-witness accounts of the skirmishes on September 25th are not very correlative but even then the tidbits of information that can be gathered from them prove useful in reconstructing the battle scene. We are thus not told as to why the Relief Force, instead of following its chartered route to the Residency via Sher Darwaza, turned towards Qaisar Bagh:

When the white soldiers came in front of Dar-i-Daulat, their artillery pieces fired a shell thrice to cause a breach in the wall of Julu Khanah. Conviction then gripped the inmates that they would now enter Qaisar Bagh.8

This vengeful action was obviously precipitated by the tragic end of their distinguished General:

The Najibs faced the fury with great determination but they were all massacred. One officer was killed near Dar-i-Daulat. In short, everywhere in all palaces fierce fighting was going on and white soldiers coming from the side of Ramna-i-Shahi had penetrated into the interior of the palaces. This was on September 25th, 1857.9


In a frenzy of killing the defenders, a detachment of the Relief Force stormed the bastion where the guns that had killed General Neill were active and creating further havoc by raining shells and musket-balls on the invaders:

Attacking from behind, the white soldiers got hold of the cannon. There were two artillery pieces at Dar-i-Daulat.10


Close to dusk, with their mission completed, this Relief Force together with its support column retreated to fall in line with the main body quietly marching towards the Residency under cover of darkness. It is necessary to remember here that all this bloodshed took place around Dar-i-Daulat in the western wing of Qaisar Bagh. The Relief Force was too small to remain in occupation of the area surrounding Dar-i-Daulat; and even though they managed to enter the Residency with heavy casualties, they became besieged there for a couple of months.

The correspondent reporting the capture of guns does not elaborate as to what the white soldiers did to the guns. A subsequent report:

At 9 a.m. Nawwab Sharaf al-Daulah [a minister in the cabinet of Mirza Birjis Qadr] got down on one side of Dar-i-Daulat and had an artillery piece brought there while the white soldiers had one on their side. They both started bombarding each other.11


makes the assumption reasonable that those guns were spiked to render them useless. Otherwise, why was a field piece specially requisitioned to face the sorties coming out of the Residency? The concentration of forces on both sides in front of Dar-i-Daulat became a normal feature of warfare for a few weeks:

There were pieces of artillery at appointed places which became active and the army and the officers thronged at Dar-i-Daulat.12


General Havelock's army consolidated its position between Dar-i-Daulat and the Gomti river by erecting screens for a safer up and down corridor for Sir Colin Campbell's stronger force between November 14th and 16th, 1857. It was preparation for a grand finale in March 1858 when Dar-i-Daulat was destined to have its last bloodbath.

There are several other relevant passages from contemporary native accounts and newspapers could be cited to show that this Dar-i-Daulat, strategically placed, was more a nerve centre of military and courtly activity than the famed Chaulakhi Gate.

Putting down the so-called revolt with an iron hand, the administrators at Lucknow proposed:

There ought to be some place which the mutineers, may recognise and point to as the monument of their own crime and our retribution.13


And the decision-makers at Calcutta ordained:

As to the buildings in Lucknow, the only one that I think it might be well to level to the ground is the "Kaiser Baug" as that is the Palace where our chief enemies have resided during the rebellion and whence they have issued their proclamations and orders against us.14


The decision appears monstrous to us today but it was carried out in stages over a period of years with healing touches and a lot of brain washing to let people see that it was just and befitting when it was, in fact, just the reverse. Naturally we come across Dar-i-Daulat again in this cold-blooded trail of destruction.

In early 1860s the dust of demolition in front of Sher Darwaza had not fully settled and the policy of Her Most Exalted & Just Queen Empress of India had not fully crystallized when another native account was written giving the Dar-i-Daulat episode a new twist. The writer, anxious to please his English benefactors, is rather circumspect in describing the topography of Qaisar Bagh but his narrative reveals more than it conceals:

There is a Julu Khanah (on the western side) like the one that has been described on the eastern side. Passing through this and going right under the block .of buildings above, we reach the periphery of Qaisar Bagh facing Sher Darwaza. This Sher Darwaza is also called Neill Darwaza because it was here under this gate that General Neill was killed by a shell fired by the guns at the gate of Qaisar Bagh.15


This deliberate omission of even a hint of Dar-i-Daulat beyond Julu Khanah, when we know from excerpts quoted a short while earlier that this same Julu Khanah was the bloodsoaked area on September 25th, singles out the writer as a hostile witness who knew that one could not reach the periphery of Qaisar Bagh without crossing the threshold of Dar-i-Daulat but did not mention it for understandable reasons. Subjecting this deposition to cross examination, the questions that arise are as follows and the answers, to the best of my knowledge, are appended to the questions respectively so that the two may be studied together:


Was there any other gate beside Dar-i-Daulat facing Sher Darwaza and having a clear gunners' view up to the Memorial Tablet ?


None, as it had to be high enough to avoid a solid mass of masonry to reach the desired spot and shoot down a rider.



Was the name of that gate of Qaisar Bagh, i.e. Dar-i-Daulat, known to the writer?


Yes. He knew it and knew it long before even Qaisar Bagh was built:

Despite the orders of the Resident, Padshah Begum, accompanying Munna Jan, reached Dar-i-Daulat with a strong body of armed militia at midnight. Captain James Paton was advised to issue strict orders to the guards of the Outer Gate to admit no one without permission. . . but to no avail, as they, ignoring all resistance and injuring Captain Paton in the melee, let the elephant charge flatten the doors to enter the Royal Palace, as if it was their own house.16

The doors were definitely replaced subsequently as we note another assault on this gate two decades later when the officers of the Task Force on September 25th, finding the doors stronger than the adjoining decorative wall, smashed the wall to force a speedy entry.
The Sher Darwaza is not high enough to let an elephant with hauda and chhatri pass through it; and it had no door worth the name in 1857 to check any entry. It could not therefore be the Dar-i-Daulat. A generation later people who broadly knew the locale of Dar-i-Daulat and finding no Dar-i-Daulat but a gateway there fondly started giving an exalted name to a modest structure.



"The guns at the gate of Qaisar Bagh" is a vague and indefinite expression. Does it mean artillery pieces at the ground level or those higher up at the gate scanning the skyline?


In view of the statement that General Neill was killed under the gate, the ground level theory seems more plausible but the Memorial Tablet marks out "the top of the adjacent gate" for the starting point of the trajectory; the Task Force making a desperate attempt to grab it from behind when capturing it at ground level was far too easy; and the British gunners blowing up a hand of the black statue at the top of Dar-i-Daulat, all combine to give a different version. The British gunners were not on any parade ground demonstrating their skill. They obviously tried to prevent some activity at the top of Dar-i-Daulat and completely failed while those at the top of Dar-i-Daulat targeted their leader in particular and left an indelible mark on history.



How could a name Neill Darwaza gain currency so fast as to find general acceptance in place of an authentic and appropriate name Sher Darwaza which was more suitable for the entrance of royal Wildlife Park?


Like Major Gubbins' Dooly Square this name Neill Darwaza is also of English origin. The writer feeling elated at being the mouthpiece of his English masters floated this name Neill Darwaza with great alacrity; while the masters by removing these marble lions and destroying the Hiran Khanah only strengthened the belief that it was only Neill Darwaza and nothing else. Dr R.L. Jones informs us (without a footnote) that those marble lions were "moved to Government House but subsequently lost".17



Though Sher Darwaza can also be regarded a gate of Qaisar Bagh, what prevented the writer from naming Sher Darwaza explicitly while delineating the origin of the fatal shell? If he had a viewpoint different from that of the authors of the Memorial Tablet, are not these two statements inconsistent?


The Archaeological Survey can enlighten us better as to when and why and by whom the Memorial Tablet and the Sher Darwaza were declared 'Protected Monuments'; but, presumably, the policy of the government was in a fluid state when the book Nadir al'Asr was hurriedly completed for presentation to a departing British officer. Its author recorded an equivocal statement while the official version on the Memorial Tablet is also no less equivocal as a shot even if fired from the top of Dar-i-Daulat could be construed as one coming from the top of the opposite lower edifice, i.e. Sher Darwaza. It is not possible to argue convincingly at this time whether the shot from the top of the Sher Darwaza was a planted story. As a shot to kill Neill had to come from somewhere and as Dar-i-Daulat was already destroyed (or its destruction contemplated), Sher Darwaza was preserved to lend credence to the story and Dar-i-Daulat was so well obliterated that even its memory is fading away. The non-existence of any circumstantial evidence that anyone rushed to the top of the Sher Darwaza to find the killers of General Neill or that they killed anybody then and there leads to only one conclusion: that the shot was not fired from the top of the adjacent gate but from some other gate which was instantly and desperately stormed.



How is it that the writer who knew the name of Dar-i-Daulat, and also knew that the fatal shot was fired by one of its guns, did not specifically state this?


The affected naivete of the writer in not spelling out the name of the gate is not without reasons. Dar-i-Daulat was very likely demolished when this account was written. Secondly, the writer had no desire to incur the displeasure of his benefactors by making the ignorant wiser. The very name Dar-i-Daulat was so repugnant to their taste that they did not utter it once in their published accounts. How could they let their guide mention that Dar-i-Daulat was a symbol of royalty and, to its vindictive destroyers, a structure that had inflicted untold miseries on them? How could they let their historian record that once upon a time there was a lofty gate here with stately doors, battlements, a black statue at the top and two artillery pieces on its extremes that had witnessed the pomp and splendour of the Oudh rulers and then the death and destruction of its plunderers? It was well to let it pass unsung from the realm of reality to the world of fiction and then on to poetic fancy. Our ignorance today about its existence, location and magnificence was foreseen and preplanned. But it was no poetic fancy of the inimitable elegy-writer Mir Anis of the court of Oudh to mourn the loss in his immortal lines:


Dar-i-Daulat whence wealth so widely flourished,

That House is ruined, that Establishment has

The Palaces and their inmates have all been

And the earth on which it stood has been turned upside down.



- Translation of the Latin text of the Memorial Tablet by Rev. Father Limmamey, S.J., of St. Xavier's College, Calcutta.

- Translation of Urdu verses by Ms. Sadaf Fatima of Lady Brabourne College, Calcutta,



Rosie Llewellyn Jones, A Fatal Friendship (Oxford India paperback, New Delhi, 1992), p. 182.


Ibid., p. 187.


Sayyid Kamal al-Din Haidar, Qaisar al-Tawarikh, 3rd edn. (Lucknow, 1907), p.314.


Husain Sha'ir Lucknawl, Sabad-i-Gul (Nizami Press, Lucknow, 1929), p. 35.


Haidar, op.cit., p. 289.


Jones, op.cit., p. 195.


Mirza Rajab 'Ali Beg Surur, Fasanah-i-'Ibrat (Lucknow, 1884), p.13.


Haidar, op.cit., p. 270.


Ibid., p. 269.




Ibid., p. 272


Ibid., p. 330


Jones, op.cit., p. 193.


Ibid., p. 194.


Ibid., p. 104.


Munshi Newal Kishore, Tawarikh Nadir al 'Asr (Lucknow, 1863), p. 150.


Jones, op.cit., p. 144.

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