Rumi Darwaza was built by the third Nawab of Lucknow, Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula and is believed to be identical to an old gate in Istanbul called Bab-iHümayun, and so is also sometimes referred to as Turkish Gate.
The 60 feet high gate is now considered an architectural marvel, but it built for a noble purpose. In 1748 North India, particularly Awadh, was reeling under severe famine and survival of a large part of the population was at stake. To help people overcome this Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula decided to build the Bara Imambara along with Rumi Darwaza for employment generation (think MNERGA program that’s been developed to help the poor). Over the next two years these magnificent buildings were constructed and the labour of love is now there for everyone to see.
|Rumi Darwaza in the golden light|
Architecture of Rumi Darwaza
The architectural style of the Rumi Darwaza is completely in sync with the Nawabi architecture of Lucknow, and its significantly different from the Mughals. The material used for the drawaza is bricks and its then coated with lime, while the Mughals often used red sand stone. This is why the detailing on the Darwaza is more intricate, which would be impossible to achieve in stone.
To me the Darwaza gives Lucknow is celebratory feel. It seems like tens of men are playing musical instruments and inviting everyone to join ins the festivities. It’s no surprise that the Darwaza has become the de facto symbol of Lucknow in recent times, whether it’s tourism promotion or simply building a brand for the city.
Rumi Darwaza now
The doorway has seen generations pass underneath, and now it’s decaying slowly. Structures made with brick and mortar have a much shorter life span compared to stone which was the material of choice for the Mughals like marbles in Taj Mahal, and with the excessive pressure of development around, the Darwaza is also decaying fast. A main road passes through the gate and the vibrations from the vehicles passing underneath add to the speed of decay.
|Rumi Darwaza from another gate ahead on the road|
Also structurally its made with arches ends vaults without the use of lintels for support. If one part of the arch gets cracked, it can very quickly move to other parts as well. This is well understood, yet nothing much has changed in the last many years in the area.
Recently the entire zone was developed as a heritage corridor, and one hopes that in near future all vehicular transportation in the area also stops completely. This is essential for the survival of many of these monuments in the area.
It would be a bit odd if the city’s loses this symbol which it has so lovingly adopted. So if you plan to be in the area and see Rumi Darwaza and other similar iconic buildings, I recommend you to do a Heritage Walk, instead of driving around in your car.
Since it’s gate on the main road, there is no fee to come and see it. However, I do wish they charge a fee for people to go up for more panoramic views of the city around, Of course, this should purely be based on the strength of the structure.