Explore India – Lucknow, The Hidden Gems #1-Dilkhusha Kothi

Location: Lucknow (in Lucknow Cantonment) 

Lucknow, when one hears the name, does it ring a bell; do people think it as a worthwhile tourist destination or even a tourist destination? No, most of the time no. Lucknow is the capital of Uttar Pradesh, one of the largest states in India, but when the tourists think about Uttar Pradesh, the first destination which comes in the mind is Agra and the famous Taj Mahal in Agra. The next popular tourist destination is Varanasi (which is also the part of the Buddhist circuit), the Allahabad (famous for Sangam, Kumbh Mela and so on). Lucknow, though in proximity with all these cities isn’t seen as a popular tourist destination unfortunately.

Don’t do the mistake of ignoring Lucknow as a tourist destination. Infrastructure wise Lucknow has everything which a tourist may want – good air, rail and road connectivity with all the major cities in India, hotels for all ranges – from luxury to budget, you name it and the city has it, major international hotel chains like Taj group, Marriottt, Radisson, Hilton etc. are present here, ample transportation options in the city, excellent shopping opportunity, food joints dishing out some mouth-watering local cuisine and yes a rich cultural and historical heritage.

In every part of Lucknow there is a piece of history hidden waiting to be discovered. There is a story in every nook and corner of Lucknow, be it the old city or the outskirts. Lucknow or the erstwhile Awadh or Oudh (the British pronunciation) has always played an important role in India’s freedom fight – be it the being one of the most important centres during the First War of Indian Independence (the Revolt of 1857 or the Sepoy Mutiny as the British like to refer), or be the part of Gandhiji’s Quit India movement, Swadeshi movement. Lucknow had in the past always been the favourite place for the Indian Freedom Fighters.

In the Hidden Gems series we would talk about some lesser known and unknown tourist destinations in Lucknow.

Hidden in a corner, in the green Cantonment Area of Lucknow is a Gem known as Dilkhusha Palace or Dilkhusha Kothi. Adjacent to Dilkhusha Palace is the nicely maintained Dilkshusha Garden which is maintained by the Lucknow Development Authority.

Dilkhusha Palace is currently under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) who handles the restoration and maintenance of the same. There was no entry charge to this monument when we visited.

Dilkhusha Palace or Dilkhusha Kothi does not cover a very large area, it’s more like a big bygone era bungalow which at the time when it was constructed was on the outskirts of the city deep inside a forest area with a waterbody close by.

The palace complex was constructed in European style using traditional Lakhori bricks, plastered with Lime and decorated with plastered mouldings during the reign of Nawab Sadaat Ali Khan (1798-1814).  Nawab Saadat Ali Khan was the 5th Nawab Wazir of Awadh/Oudh. His friend Major Gore Ousley a British resident planned, designed and constructed the same. This initially was to be used a hunting lodge for the Nawabs, subsequently used as a summer resort. The corner of the palace was adorned with towers which had circular towers. The design of the palace bore a resemblance to the style of Seaton Delaval Hall in Northumberland, England.

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Dilkhusha Kothi in 1860
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Dilkusha Kothi in 1870s (pic by Sache)
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Ruined Dilkhusha Kothi – a picture from 1880 (pic courtesy British Library)
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Dilkhusha Kothi

 

Nawab Nasir-ud-din Haider (1827-1837) made some more additions.

During the revolt of 1857 (first war of Indian Independence/sepoy mutiny) the entire complex was centre of British military activity. The complex suffered major damages. British General Sir Henry Havelock breathed his last in the complex (he didn’t die a glorious death fighting in the war but due to dysentery which was caused by the siege), in November 1857.

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Dilkhusha Kothi (Dilkhusha Palace) in 2017

Check Current Pictures of Dilkhusha Palace here

Some restoration was done when the revolt was crushed and it became the residence of Commanding Officer of the Oudh Division (British) until it was declared unsafe (ref. Historic Lucknow, Sidney Hay).

Other than the main or the old building, there is another building in the complex which is known as the North East Building. This building was constructed by last king of Awadh, Nawab Wajid Ali Shah (1847-56) to the north east of Dilkhusha Palace on the east west axis. This building again was built in European style using the traditional kiln baked Lakhori bricks plastered with lime. The ground next to it (the present day Dilkhusha Garden) was cleared and was used for military exercises for his troops during the early years of his reign. The British objected to the same and ordered the same to be stopped.

There are two graves of British residents inside the complex enclosed with a small boundary right next to the old palace building.

This place definitely is worth a visit.

PS – Lakhori bricks were kiln baked, only 19 mm thick and normally about 10 cm x 15 cm. These bricks because of their small size were extensively used for creating finer details on the wall and column surfaces.

Picture Gallery Dilkhusha Palace

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36 thoughts on “Explore India – Lucknow, The Hidden Gems #1-Dilkhusha Kothi

  1. Excellent attempt to bring forth the hidden gems of the Lucknow.
    I agree that Lucknow has so much history and heritage. Having been to the city once although didn’t get chance to explore it there’s a lot to be done to attract tourists. Most cities in up are dirty and haphazard. Connectivity need to be improved. Law and order too is a big issue. Even in Agra tourists generally makes a day trip rather than spending few nights. Varanasi is a different case though even though similar problems exists.

    Are there no pictures of the building now?
    Will look forward to your post.

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      1. And yes I agree with what you are saying. Tourist infrastructure needs to be developed in a orderly manner. Proper focus should be given the needs and ancillary requirements of a tourist.

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  2. Its sad to see such a glorious building in ruins now! But glad that some attempt has been made in restoring it! Wonderful coverage on this hidden gem Manjul! 🙂

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    1. I completely agree but according to official records parts of it were destroyed by the British themselves post 1857. ASI is doing a decent job of maintaining it the way it was left post 1880

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  3. Thanks a lot for sharing this with all of us you actually understand what you’re talking approximately! Bookmarked. Kindly also seek advice from my site =). We may have a hyperlink trade agreement among us!

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  4. I have never heard of this city thanks for introducing, it looks like a true hidden historical gem for a different look on India ❤

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  5. I have a lot of Indian friends here in the Philippines and I heard of this Dilkhusha Kothi from one of them. If ever I have the chance to visit India Ver soon I see to it to include it in my itenerary aside from visiting Taj.

    I always wanted to visit India to discover the beauty of the country and I believe it is simply beautiful in and out as my Indian friends here.

    Love from Philippines, Lance

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  6. This is really cool. I am so excited to visit India! There are so many places I want to see. I’ve never been but I feel like I’ll need 3 months to get to see everything I want to see. Do you have any other off the beaten path suggestions for india?

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  7. NIce writing! I have always wondered what is the charm that drives me to visit India, because the greatest innovators of our time always tell everyone that India is the best place to find yourself. I intend to do the same someday!

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