Not many will differ with the fact that the essence of Lucknow lies in its old city area. The peculiar scent of the old world charm, the Nawabi feeling of the laid back attitudes, the majestic grandeur of the lavish lifestyles, are just few of the things that the youth of today‘s fast paced, globalized world will never totally get to enjoy.
The feeling that comes with being a Lakhnawi can never be put into words completely; it must be experienced. Most of that feeling comes from the city’s glorious past inherited from the Nawabs of Awadh, who had chosen the city of Lucknow as the state capital.
Merely thinking of getting a glimpse into the life and times of the Nawabs can be a thorough delight. Not to mention the satisfaction that one can derive by getting to visit a picture gallery that gives a flashback into the Nawabi era.
The Hussainabad Picture Gallery, enjoys the privilege of being the oldest picture gallery in the city of Nawabs, and houses life size portraits of the Nawabs of Awadh. The imposing structure which houses the Picture Gallery is also known by the name of ‘’Baradari’’ literally meaning ‘’having twelve doorways’’.
History of the Hussainabad Picture Gallery
Located near Chhota Imambara and the Hussainabad Clock Tower, the Hussainabad Picture Gallery is a major landmark of Lucknow, the city of Nawabs. This magnificent structure was constructed by Nawab Mohammad Ali Shah, the third Nawab of erstwhile Awadh in the year 1838 and used as a royal summer house.
The majestic building overlooking a pond, also had a mosque. In the past, during the Nawabi era, the front of the building had a market by the name of ‘’Mina Bazaar’’, an inn and stables for elephants and horses. The distinguishing feature of this imposing terracotta edifice is the presence of iron pillars in the upper storey pavilion used for the first time in the construction of the Nawabi buildings.
Highlights of the Hussainabad Picture Gallery
The entry to the magnificent Hussainabad Picture Gallery is through a series of steps leading to the main hall which has on display full-length portraits of the Nawabs of Awadh who ruled during the nineteenth century, transporting you back to the Nawabi era, though only virtually. These exhibits lend you an understanding of the lifestyle of the royal clan. It also houses pictures of the administrators and officials of the British age. These life-size portraits were painted by visiting artists from Europe such as Dawling, Gravet, and Harrison as well as an Indian artist, D.S.Singh.
The most striking assets of the imposing Hussainabad Picture Gallery are the magnificent portraits that exhibit the high level of detailing while portraying the subjects. You might notice that the eyes, head and accessories worn by them such as shoes appear to be orietned towards you as you walk past them, keeping you mesmerized. Legend has it that these paintings, which are said to have been done on elephant skin are painted in such a way that the different parts seem to move with the angle of view.
The Present State of Hussainabad Picture Gallery
The conservation and maintenance of the Hussainabad Picture Gallery comes under the jurisdiction of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
The imposing building of the Hussainabad Picture Gallery is for sure a place to visit when in the city of Nawabs. Surrounded by a beautiful garden area, the architectural marvel of the grand edifice enchants you with its panoramic view.
The magnificence of the gallery area can be experienced best with the sun setting behind the mosques that are visible from the building. The charm of this imposing structure is increased manifold by the presence of a pond which supports flora and fauna in its own way. It gives the building an eco-friendly and serene atmosphere while giving you the chance to unwind and relax in the peaceful world away from the din of life.