This is the third in a series of posts recalling my visit to the Colonial battlefields of India and Pakistan in the Summer of 2006. I hope to publish more posts soon covering: Cawnpore; Gwalior and the relief of Chitral.
Lucknow is a wonderful, vibrant city in Northern India. I arrived there in August 2006 and immediately took a liking to the place and its people. After checking into the Hotel Capoors I hailed a bicycle rickshaw and headed for La Martinière College on the edge of the city.
The building was constructed as a house by Claude Martin, a French Officer in the British East India Company, but after his death he left instructions for it to be become one of three schools named in his honour. It still functions as a school and while walking the grounds I met some of the students who were exceptionally friendly and well mannered and insisted on showing me the best places to take photos.
During the Indian Mutiny of 1857 many of the boys and Teachers took up arms and served bravely for the duration of the eighty-six day siege of the Residency. It’s a tremendous story.
The following morning I set out for the grounds of the Residency. It’s a group of buildings that were built in 1800 by the Nawab of Oudh and became the home of the British delegation to the state. During the Mutiny it was surrounded and besieged and witnessed a long and brutal battle.
It has been left much as it would have looked at the end of the the fighting. Damage from canon and muskets have left gaping holes in the red brick work and the lawns and gardens are still well maintained. There is a haunting quality to the place. In the basement of the main building is a small museum with a number of artefacts. I’m told that in the evenings there is a light and laser show documenting Lucknow’s history though I was unable to get to see this.
The next day I paid a visit to Sikandar Bagh, a villa and garden enclosed by a fortified wall, with loopholes, gateway and corner bastions, approx. 150 yards square, c. 4.5 acres- this was the scene of heavy fighting in November 1857 when Sir Colin Campbell and his force of Sikhs and Highlanders stormed it and took it from a strong force of Rebels. A number of Victoria Crosses were awarded on that day.
In conclusion I really enjoyed visiting Lucknow and would advise anybody interested in British/Indian military history to pay it a visit.