The Nawab’s Abode

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Imam Bargah

The Lucknow of Kolkata

The place of interest for this edition will interest the aficionados of history who, more often than not, love to live life in hindsight. Here’s presenting Nawab Wajid Ali Shah’s mausoleum, located in Metiabruz. It is better known as ‘Imambargah’ among the locals- that is what you inquire for once you are nearby, to get the right directions.

imam barah

As soon as you reach the place- you’ll be welcomed by a humongous gate, almost four storeys high, which had been crafted centuries back when the nawab was deposed to Calcutta. The gate itself leaves you awestruck for a moment or two- to admire the Awadhi architecture amidst the cacophony of one of the largest garment hubs in India, Metiabruz. The place is surrounded by innumerable garment merchants who are busy going about their business. And somehow that is the beauty of this historical place- a palatial mausoleum amongst the tiny shops leaving not an inch to breathe.

imam barah

Once you enter the place you will see fine work of marbles inlaid in a beautiful pattern, of-course the height of the place, and also fishes crafted on the walls of the mausoleum. Apparently the nawab had a predilection for fishes, hence it was the symbol of his clan which is evident everywhere.

There are two care-takers who are more than willing to show you around and amuse you with their folk-lore about the ‘old-gold’ days of the nawab. There is a larger than life size hall inside the building which is adorned with ravishing chandeliers and silver ornaments that have been there since time immemorial. Also Nawab Wajid Ali Shah happens to be buried there, with his grave adorned with a carefully crafted tomb-like structure with silver ornaments to beautify it further.

Nawab Wajid Ali Shah’s mausoleum is one of those places which will take you back in time and leave you with a nostalgic wonder. A place for lovers of art & history and children alike- for you get to know about your city’s very own nawab and the culture brought down by him all the way from Lucknow. But just a visit did not quench our thirst for the mystery generated out of this place, hence we at The Beacon got chatting up with the manager of the place about the Awadh Dynasty, the current generation of the clan and the place is being managed by the trust.

imam barah

Excerpts from the conversation with Javed Akhtar Mirza, the manager of the trust:

“Begum Hazrat Mahal, spouse of the nawab has been acknowledged as a freedom fighter by the Govt. of India for her tremendous contribution to the sepoy mutiny of 1857 along with Tatya Tope and the likes; this trust is being run by her descendants under the guidance of the district magistrate.”

imam barah

In longing for his hometown, it is said that the nawab to a large extent recreated Lucknow in and around Garden Reach, Metiabruz. Yet there is more to him because a culinary relic of lucknow dear to him is, even today, enjoyed as a delicacy by us Calcuttans. You guessed it right, we’re talking about our common love- The Biryani. And the ‘Aloo’ introduced by him, on requests from the local zamindars, is a novelty that the biryani lover will find only in Calcutta. 

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