(Detailed write-up on Nadan Mahal)
Nadan Mahal (deliverance tomb) is the mausoleum of Sheikh Ibrahim Chishti, a saint and his son Sheikh Abdur Rahim, the first governor of Lucknow during the rule of the Mughal Emperor Akbar (16th century).
When in 1590 Emperor Akbar divided the whole of India into twelve Provinces, lucknow was in the first instance, chosen as the seat of subedar, or governor of Oudh. At that time one sheikh Abdur Rahim an impecunious and down-at-heel nobleman of Bijnaur (U.P.) went to Delhi to seek his fortune. Here he acquired some influence with the nobles of the court and was himself accepted as a courtier. Sheikh Mohammed Azmat Ali Naami Kakorvi in his historical account Muraqqa-e-Khusravi written in 1282 Hijri (1866) tells the story of Sheikh Abdur Rahim, throwing light on his importance for Akbar. Astrologers had warned Akbar that two particular days were inauspicious for him as Emperor and he should let some reliable person occupy the throne for those two days. Akbar thus made Sheikh Abdur Rahim Emperor for two days. Just a few seconds before the inauspicious period was to end, the eunuch carrying Akbar’s imperial robes dropped down dead. A poisonous cobra was found among the Emperor’s robes. For his role, Sheikh Abdur Rahim was rewarded with lands of the pargana of Lucknow and some parts of Behraich. A few days later with a great pomp and show, he came to his estate.
It appears from the Ain-i-Akbari, that Sheikh Abdur Rahim had a wife, a Brahmin woman by the name of Krishna. After the death of her husband, she spent a vast amount restructuring the garden around the tomb. She herself saw to it that no weary wayfarer passed by unattended.
This impressive square building is near the tomb of Sheikh Abdur Rahim`s father, Sheikh Ibrahim Chishti, which was built by Sheikh Abdur Rahim.
Sheikh Abdur Rahim built his mausoleum in his lifetime. The mausoleum consists of a domed chamber measuring 8.02 square meters, surrounded on all sides by a verandah 2.74 meters in width. The central chamber which contains the graves was seems to have been initially constructed as a twelve-pillared open pavilion, following which it was closed with bricks. In Nadan Mahal, the enclosed bays are panelled and recessed. Lattice screens cover the openings on all sides except the south, which is the entrance to the chamber. The verandahs have four columns on each side in the usual Mughal style, in addition to those at the four corners of the building. The foliated moulding on the capitals is similar to that crowning the Dasa or plinth of buildings in ancient India.
On the brackets which support the projecting Chhajja (balcony), there are seen easily-recognisable forms of birds and elephants. Above the Chhajja runs the moulding, with two Cavettos and a broad central fillet. Below the moulding are holes for fastening the ropes of the Shamiana (awning). The parapet is ornamented with Merlons in glazed blue tiles with yellow centers. The dome is crowned by a lotus leaf finial, while its octagonal drum was patterned with green and blue tiles.
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