Amongst the fertile flood-plains of the river Gomti, Dilkusha Bagh is one of the most popular picnic spots. The ruins of lofty buildings built in ‘Gothic style’ casting their long shadows on the natural carpet of lush green grass and beds of flowers, provide an ideal setting for picnicking.
The Dilkusha Kothi and its adjoining magnificent garden were built by Nawab Saadat Ali Khan. Nawab Saadat Ali Khan had inherited the throne of Avadh as a result of a clique by the British officers and in response to this favour bestowed on him was paying rupees one crore and thirty-five lakhs annually to the “Company Government’. The Nawab had reluctantly parted with this huge sum from the royal treasury, throughout his life. He was a man of simple living, polite and intelligent and did not believe in unnecessary expenditure. He utilised the state revenue in building a series of palaces and laying gardens and orchards between the Residency and Dilkusha. Amongst his notable contributions to Lucknow are Tedhi Kothi, Lal Baradari, Kothi Noor Baksh, Kankar Waali Kothi Khursheed Manzil, Chaupar Waali Ghursal, Badshah Manzil, Khas Nakam and Dilkusha Garden. This was the waning phase of eastern architectural influence. French architecture was making inroads in the constructions. These later buildings with their mixed Indo-French designs had little attraction for the historians. Along with the Dilkusha Kothi a tall multi-storeyed tower was also constructed. It was provided with simple Italian windows for hunting. In the jungle around this building a large number of deer and other wild animals were kept close together to ensure easy availability of game. Thus, Dilkusha was built into a heaven in those days.
After Saadat Ali Khan, Nasir-ud-Din Haider made further contributions to the beauty of Dilkusha. He was well known for his inclinations towards anglicized lifestyle and had a large number of European friends. His French friend, Matz was given a special seat of honour in the royal court. Matz was adept in oil painting and western music. He was comfortably lodged in the Dilkusha Palace to cater to the requirements of the ruler for paintings. He has left an impressive legacy of a large number of excellent paintings for Nasir-ud-Din Haider. For this service he was paid large sums by the ruler which helped him in his lavish lifestyle.
Strange as it may appear now, an important event in the history of Dilkusha was floating of a balloon by an Englishman in 1830. The show was specially arranged for the Nawab and his courtiers and was witnessed by curious citizens of Lucknow in large numbers. Dilkusha was also the ‘Shrawan Resort’ of Nasiruddin’s wives. They enjoyed the beauty of nature by swaying on swings tied to trees. ‘Pakoras’ were fried in large vessels for the members of the royal family. Nasiruddin’s favourite begum Kudasia Mahal had also lived in this palace during her pregnancy.
During the sepoy rebellion, when the British officers were using Dilkusha as their residence, it attracted the wrath of revolutionaries. Much of this building complex fell in the bombardment. Over a large part of its ruins are now situated the Lucknow Cantonment and several new settlements. All that remains of this once palatial building are ruins of a ‘Hunting House’ and a circular baradari.
Source : Monuments of Lucknow, Yogesh Praveen.