Standing on the old Hardoi Road, the Rumi Darwaza (also spelt Roomi Darwaza) is one of the most well-known icons of the city of Lucknow. Like the Howrah Bridge and Victoria Memorial for Calcutta (Kolkata), the Rumi Darwaza serves as the logo for Lucknow in posters and other visual communication. It is another architectural gem that was built under the patronage of Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula by his favourite architect, Kifayatullah. Kifayatullah, as you may know was the man behind Lucknow’s Bada Imambara.
|Rumi Darwaza - Western Face|
The Rumi Darwaza has several levels and the plan of the structure changes on every level, and on the Eastern and Western sides. From one side, it looks like a large “mihrab” (a semicircular niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the qibla, the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca) while from the other it looks like a half-crescent shaped building. There are three arched gateways in the centre, through which traffic passes even today. Walls extend on both sides of the gate, with multiple arched gates on each side, culminating in octagonal bastions. The brick and stucco structure is adorned with beautiful calligraphy, lotus petals and other engravings. Along the edge of the arch on the Western side, are a series of flamboyant “guldastas” which project outwards. They remind me of the aluminium loudspeakers cones known in Calcutta as “chonga”.
|Rumi Darwaza - Eastern face|
A pentagonal structure on the roof of the gateway holds a platform which looks somewhat like the top of a Mexican hat. Architecturally, the Rumi Darwaza may be said to be a fusion of the Rajput and Mughal styles, with the Mughal element present in the form of minarets topped by octagonal “chhatris”. Access to the top of the structure is probably possible, and there are caretakers who stay on the premises, but for some reason, I didn’t attempt to climb up. For those who do, the view is spectacular, and if you’re a photography enthusiast, it is a sight you will probably not want to miss.
|Rumi Darwaza as seen from Bada Imambara|
Located in the Hussainabad area of Lucknow, the spectacular Rumi Darwaza was happily spared damage during the mutiny of 1857, and thanks to the efforts of the Archaeological Survey of India, is in good shape today. It is not a ticketed monument and entry, if possible at all, is free, although you may need to tip the caretaker.
- by Deepanjan Ghosh
MORE ON LUCKNOW
Explore more photographs from my Lucknow trip. Check out my Flickr album
I am grateful to my friend, Devankan Chakraborty for being my guide around Lucknow, to Kalpajeet Bhattacharya for his hospitality, and to my father Debashish Ghosh, and sister Deepshikha Ghosh for accompanying me, and providing valuable inputs while shooting the monuments. Check out my father’sflickr page here.
Monuments of Lucknow – R.S. Fonia