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Under his rule, Awadh flourished with lavishness, splendour and kindness. In the maps of medieval India, he made Awadh stand out like a pearl. He was the fourth Nawab of the royal Awadh, he was the mighty yet generous Asaf Ud Daulah.
Born on 23rd September 1748
Lucknow has forever had the best of collectables when it comes to the period of Mughals. Whether it's their royal thrones, beautiful gardens, authentic meal or majestic monuments, one can never not be entertained or amazed by the enriching sources of Mughal history it is home to. One such legendary page from the history book of Lucknow has the story of Awadh's fourth Nawab. This nawab was filled with bouts of sincerity and kindness, he had a passion for hunting and he loved to lay down the foundations of mighty gorgeous palaces and forts.
Not just that, he even had the kicks for gardening with rose being his favourite flower. It is said that during his rule, our sweet nawab had turned the whole of Lucknow into a gulistan filled with decorative gardens and well-curated mohallas.
Who is this ruler? It was Nawab Muhammad Yahiya Meerza Amani Asaf-ud-Daula. As majestic as he sounds, Asaf-ud-Daula lived up to his pleasant reputation. Born on 23rd September 1748, Asaf-ud-Daula was the eldest son of the predecessor Shuja-ud-Daula and the only child of his mother Umat-ul-Zohra aka Bahu Begum. He became the fourth nawab of Awadh on 31st January 1775, after the demise of his father.
As a young kid, Nawab Asaf grew up as a pampered child who enjoyed the perks of lavishness that his family had. He was quite the naughty kid who would make his teacher get fed up and get earnest love from his mother, really spoilt in that sense...but as time passed the distance between Nawab Asaf and his mother grew more. Things especially took a serious turn after his father passed away and his demand to own all of his wealth was denied by his mother and grandmother.
This disagreement led the Nawab to shift the capitals of Awadh from Faizabad to Lucknow during 1775. This was the beginning of his dynamic yet splendid rule in Lucknow.
Before he was made the Nawab, Asaf-ud-Daula was initially appointed as Meer Atish then he was promoted to the position of a director of the Deewan-e-Khas. When he was throned as the Nawab, Asaf-ud-Daula was just 26. For an age like that, he established a pretty serene kingdom. One can say almost every notable grand structure was established by the Nawab himself. After he shifted the capital, Asaf-ud-Daula shifted his entire base to Daulat Khana.
Wondering what Daulta Khana means? In all its literal sense, it means the nobleman's mansion, and well it was. Covering a massive 45 acres of land, standing tall and handsome was the Daulat-Khana e Asafi (because of its association with the Nawab). It was a collection of buildings that stood northwest of the Rumi Darwaza in Hussainabad. Although the Daulat Khana is a flex in itself, one of Nawab's most appreciated establishments was the Bara Imambara.
After a disastrous drought left the city of Awadh in total despair, their daily lives got heavily disturbed. Even with the people surviving barely, the pride and royalty of early Awadhians was too much to accept any charity from the emperor. However, the Nawab with his generous ideas and care took the initiative of offering employment by asking them to help construct the Bara Imambara.
As lofty and beautiful as it looks, Asaf-ud-Daula made sure to gather the best of architects in order to build this wonderful monument. He ended up hiring Kifayat-Ullah who was considered to be one of the most respected and renowned architects of that time for the same. There also happens to be a complicated maze which is an amusing bhool-bulaiyya for tourists today, it was constructed to confuse enemies in case they infiltrate the properties.
The whole of Lucknow was a pompous land filled with magnificent structures everywhere during the entire tenure of Asa-ud-Daula. Some of the other renowned structures of his contained the Shahi Baoli, Rumi Darwaza, Badi Masjid, Sheesh Mahal, Charbagh and the Golden Bastion. Jewelled with such luxurious mahals and forts, Lucknow had become popular all over the world.
Apart from his big architecture, Asaf-ud-Daula was also a man who loved poetry and kite flying. His love for poetry made him build up a huge library filled with 300,000 books!
However, everything aside, Nawab Asaf's core qualities consisted of pure kindness and generosity and that made him the beloved Nawab of Awadh. One such exemplary story of kindness was his sweet way of filling in muskmelons with alms secretly and distributing them among the poor and destitute. This act made many people praise him like a god and hence the phrase —
Jisko Na De Maula, Usko De Asaf Ud Daulah
Asaf-ud-Daula was a legendary ruler who deeply cared for his people and their problems, as memorable as he is, the rulers today should learn a little from him...
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