The Qaiserbagh palace complex comprises many grand monuments of Lucknow. Situated in the heart of the city, one such elegant building is the Safed Baradari that was built in 1854 by Nawab Wajid Ali Shah. Also known as Qasr-ul Aza which means a place of mourning. Constructed in white marble, Safed Baradari is a wondrously decorative structure with 12 outlets. It has a spacious hall decorated with delicate chandeliers and intrinsic architectural motifs. It’s beauty has fascinated many to the extent that prominent films like Umrao Jaan and Tanu Weds Manu were shot here.
According to eminent historian of Avadh, Mr. Roshan Taqui, the Safed Baradari was built as an Imambara or a place of mourning for observing azadaari, or mourning and commemoration. It was used as a Court for petitions and claims by officers and nobles of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, the deposed king were held here by the British after the annexation of Avadh in 1856.
During the revolt of 1857, it was used as an important meeting place by freedom fighters. After Wajid Ali Shah was sent into exile to Calcutta, a revolt broke out in Avadh and it was Begum Hazrat Mahal who made Qaiserbagh a citadel of that revolt. Between 1862 and 1867, the British gave permission for the premises to be used by the Taluqdaars, or landlords of Avadh for a meeting place of members of Anjuman-e-Hind, also known as the British India Association of Avadh. It is surprising to learn that a place once used for mourning is now the home of colourful exhibitions, weddings and concerts.
The entire Qaiserbagh area needs care and should be declared as a heritage zone as it is full of architectural gems that desperately need a facelift. The area includes prominent monuments like Chattar Manzil, Kothi Jarnail, Laal Baradari, Kothi Darshan Vilas, Kothi Gulistan-e Iram, Sher Darwaza, Sadar Darwaza, Maqbara Sadat Ali Khan, Maqbara Murshidzadi, Bhatkhande, Marmari Pul, Kothi Roshan-ud Daulah, Amir-ud Daulah Library, Safed Baradari and the two gates on both sides of it.
Lucknow has a great potential for tourism and the need of the hour is to preserve and to promote the monuments in the city and to create infrastructure and other hospitality facilities for visitors to this glorious city.