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HISTORY OF AWADH (Oudh)

 a princely State of India

by

Hameed Akhtar Siddiqui

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Earlier known as Lakshmanpur Awadh is claimed to be among the most ancient of Hindu States. According to popular legend Ramchandra (Hindu God) of Ayodhya, the hero of the Ramayana gifted the territory of Lucknow to his devoted brother Lakshaman after he had conquered Lanka (present Shri Lanka) and completed his term of exile in jungle. Therefore people say that original name of Lucknow was Lakshmanpur, popularly known as Lakshmanpur or Lakhanpur. Ayodhya was so large a city that Lakshmanpur was described as its suburb.

Name Awadh is derived from Ayodhya (before Mughal's effect). Until 16th c. AD, its name was Ayodhya and not Awadh. In ancient period, Ayodhya was the capital Kosal Province. The history of Ayodhya however as of nearly all Hindu Kingdoms between 7th & 11th centuries is a mystery.

Awadh again came into prominence when Muslim rulers started to reign in India. Bakhtiyar Khalji was made governor of this region by Qutbuddin in 12th c. AD. Nasiruddin Muhammad Shah was made governor in 1325 AD. Qamruddin Qaran and then Farhat Khan was made governor by Muhammad Tughluq, Who declared himself independent king and made Jaunpur his capital.

 

Ayodhya was given importance in the reign of Mughals also. Babur himself visited in 1538 AD with his army. Awadh became a "Subah" or province of the Mughal Empire after Babur annexed it. Mughal king Akbar divided his Empire into 12 provinces for better administration and controlled by "Sipah Salar". Awadh was one of the important provinces. Control over these provinces by the king at Delhi started weakening with the decaying conditions of Mughals by the time of Muhammad Shah until 1722, when Sadat Khan the new governor laid the foundation.

 

During the 139 years of Awadh reign following rulers ruled:

Nawab Wazirs of Awadh

1. Burhanul-Mulk Nawab Sadat Khan 1132-1151 AH / 1719-1737 AD

2. Nawab Safdarjung 1151-1166 AH / 1737-1753 AD

3. Nawab Shuja-ud-daula 1166-1188 AH / 1753-1775 AD

4. Nawab Asaf-ud-daula 1188-1212 AH / 1775-1797 AD

5. Nawab Wazir Ali Khan 1212-1212 AH / 1797-1798 AD

6. Nawab Sadat Ali Khan 1212-1229 AH / 1798-1814 AD

7. Nawab Ghazi-ud-din Haider 1229-1234 AH / 1814-1819 AD

8. Birjis Qadra 1273-1274 AH / 1857-1858 AD

 

Kings of Awadh

1. Ghazi-ud-din Haider 1234-1243 AH / 1819-1827 AD

2. Nasir-ud-din Haider 1243-1253 AH / 1827-1837 AD

3. Muhammad Ali Shah 1253-1258 AH / 1837-1842 AD

4. Amjad Ali Shah 1258-1263 AH / 1842-1847 AD

5. Wajid Ali Shah 1263-1272 AH / 1847-1856 AD

 

BURHAN-UL-MULK NAWAB SADAT KHAN

(1132-1151 AH / 1719-1737 AD)

Muhammad Amin s/o Muhammad Nasir

Capital: Faizabad near Ayodhya

Founder of Faizabad City

 

Click for enlarged picture of Muhammad Naseer

Muhammad Naseer came to Patna (today capital of Bihar State) along with his elder son Muhammad Baqar from Khurasan (in Persia) and worked for Murshid Quli Khan. Muhammad Naseer 's second son Muhammad Amin also came to Patna but his father expired before he reached. Muhammad Amin came to Delhi in 1709 AD. He started his life as a Fauji Sardar under Faujdar Sarbuland Khan of Kara Manikpur. He got annoyed with Sarbuland Khan, left his services, and came to Delhi. There He joined the force of Farukhsiyar and got the title of Hift-e-hazari. When Muhammad Shah came to power, Muhammad Amin was assigned many important tasks and he completed all the tasks successfully. He was given the title of "Sadat Khan Bahadur". He was made governor of Agra on Oct 15, 1720 AD. He was given the title of "Captain of the Imperial Body Guards" on Jan 12, 1721 AD.

 

He was also made the governor of Awadh on Sep 9, 1722 AD and the army-in-charge of Gorakhpur. Awadh now includes five districts Khalilabad, Faizabad, Gorakhpur, Bahraich and Lucknow. Boundries of Awadh stretched to Himalayan hills in north, Bihar in east, in south unto Kara Manikpur of Allahabad province and in west unto Kannauj. From Gorakhpur to Kannauj 270 miles long and from northern hills to Kara Manikpur the province was 230 miles wide, totaling to 1,01,71,080 Bigha in area.

Local kings, Zamindars and Jagirdars have created mismanagement and destroyed the peace of the area since the reign of Aurangzeb, specially the Sheikh Zadas. Sadat Khan tamed them, made his own palace near Ayodhya, and founded a new city Faizabad, which became the capital of the new government. Due to his management policy state's income rose from Rupees 70 lakhs to 2 crores.

On this success Muhammad Shah was very pleased and given him the title of "Burhan-ul-Mulk". Sadat Khan enlarged the state boundary on eastern front by taking Banaras, Jaunpur, Ghazipur and Chunar under his control from Jagirdar Murtaza Khan in 1728 AD.

 

For his assistance, he called his maternal nephew (Bhanja) Muhammad Muqeem from Nishapur and got him married with his alder daughter. Sadat Khan also got the title of "Abul Mansoor" through Muhammad Shah and a post Deputy Governor of Awadh for Muhammad Muqeem.

Sadat Khan moved to Delhi to assist the king in central administration of the country. After the conflict with Muhammad Shah over the fight with Baji Rao Peshwa in 1736 ADdue to backbiting of nobles, Sadat Khan came back to Lucknow.

In 1729 AD Nadir Shah attacked Delhi and started blood shedding. Sadat Khan started for Delhi to face him. He compromised with Nadir Shah to take two crores of Rupees and go back, but the credit of this compromise was given to Asaf Jah, with the title of "Amir-ul-umra". This demoralized Sadat Khan. He informed the fact to Nadir Shah and made himself aloof. Nadir Shah arrested Asaf Jah and started massacre in Delhi.

Sadat Khan died on Mar 19, 1739 AD. At the time of his death, there were 22 lakhs army men, 50 tanks and crores of Rupees.

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NAWAB SAFDARJUNG

(1151-1166 AH / 1737-1753 AD)

Click for enlarged photo 

Abul Mansoor Muhammad Muqueem

Son-in-law of Sadat Khan

Capital Faizabad

 

After Sadat Khan there were two claimants for the governorship of Awadh. Sadat Khan's nephew Sherjung and Abul Mansoor Muhammad Muqueem. Muhammad Mucked was efficient having the experience of 5 years but for Nadir Shah these qualities were of no use. He only knows the language of money. He accepted the offer of the advocate of Abul Mansoor, Raja Lakshminarayana that a sum of rupees 2 crores will be given to him as Nazrana after Muhammad Muqueem becomes the governor of Awadh. One crore eighty lakhs from Awadh and twenty lakhs from the Delhi's residence of Sadat Khan were given to Nadir Shah and Muhammad Muqueem was made the governor of Awadh. Muhammad Shah gave him the title of "Safdarjung".

He has to face the same problem as of Sadat Khan, currupt policy of Delhi court, rebellion kings and wellbeing of his people and army. He succeeded on all the fronts, crushed rulers and maintained peace in Awadh, gained the confidence of Muhammad Shah and was awarded with the title of "Meer-e-Atash" and the governorship of Kashmir. Muhammad Shah was so impressed by him that all the administration was looked after by Safdarjung. There was full peace in Awadh.

After the accession of Ahmad Shah in 1748, he made sufdarjung his Chief Minister and gave him the charge of "Harem". He was also made the governor of Ajmer and became the "Faujdar " of Narnaul. His son Jalaluddin Haider has been given the title of "Shuja-ud-daula" and was made the Superintendent. Of Imperial army. This was fact that all the power of Mughal Empire was bestowed upon Safdarjung by the end of second half of 18th century. Apart from these responsibilities of Delhi Safdarjung has not neglected the Awadh and its prosperity, which he considered as his family property. Due to corrupt policy of Delhi court and confrontation with Ahmad Shah, he came to Awadh in Dec' 1753 AD, where he died in Oct'1755 AD at the age of 46 years. He was very generous and helped the needy, specially the scalars, poets and artists.

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NAWAB SHUJA-UD-DAULA

(1166-1188 AH / 1753-1775 AD)

Click for enlarged Picture  Jalaluddin Haider S/o Safdarjung

Capital : Faizabad 

After Safdarjung his son Shuja-ud-daula concentrated on his province Awadh, which by now has become a strong and important state and have no fear from other Indian Kings but foreign power in the form of East India Company was posing danger. In 1764 Shuja-ud-daula fought against British forces at Buxer along with Mir Qasim but was defeated. He again fought British with the help of Marathas at Kara Jahanabad and got defeated. So on Aug 16, 1765 AD he signed on "Allahabad Treaty", which says that Kara and Allahabad district will go to Company and Company will get 50 lakhs of rupees from Awadh. British will be allowed free trade in Awadh and will help each other in case of war with other powers, which was a very shrewd politics of the Company.

Shuja-ud-daula so organized and strengthened his army by 1768 AD that it posed threat to East India Company. Company then imposed a new term in 1768 AD that the Nawab's army will not increase by 35,000. During his last days, Company has got much control over the Awadh administration. He died on Jan 26, 1775 AD.

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NAWAB ASAF-UD-DAULA

(1188-1212 AH / 1775-1797 AD)

Click for enlarged picture of Asaf-ud-daula 

Mirza Yahiya Khan S/o Shuja-ud-daula

Capital : Lucknow

After the death of Shuja-ud-daula, Asaf-ud-daula was made Nawab of Awadh on Mar 4, 1775 AD. Pressures were increasing on Awadh in the name of different "Universal Peace", "Firm Friendship" and "Perfect Union" treaties. Benaras, Jaunpur and Ghazipur districts were taken out from Awadh.

Monthly burden for British was increased from Rs. 2,10,000 to 2,60,000. A temporary brigade was formed by the Company whose expenditure also came on the shoulders of Awadh. Nawab was compelled to appoint British army officers in Awadh army. Above this Nawab was asked to improve the administration and peoples condition. Asaf-ud-daula had no option but to obey the orders, otherwise his brother Sadat Ali Khan (Whose character and ability was doubtful) would have been made Nawab in his place. But when the pay of the Nawab's servants and allowances of his family members were heavily in arears, he told his helplessness to Warren Hesting. He accepted this fact. When Govt. Revenue became nil, Warren Hesting along with Nawab's Wazir (Murtaza Ali Khan) looted Begum and their servants. Asaf-ud-daula was also demanding money in lakhs from his mother at Faizabad. In fifth loot he was accompanied by Mukhtar-ud-daula Murtaza Ali Khan and Resident John Bristo and looted worth 36 lakhs of cash and jewelry. Sixth and last loot was done in 1782 AD by Haider Beg and Resident Medilton under the guidance of Governor general.

This shows that almost every officer in Awadh Sultanat have become opprtunist, became well wisher of the Company for their own benefit. Well wishers of Nawab were harassed and punished. Nawab has got no control over the officers and army. He died on Sep 21, 1797 AD.

In his reign he transfered his capital from Faizabad to Lucknow and constructed big palaces, bazaars, gardens, Imambara, Roomi Gate, Residency and many others. Muslims and Hindus were equally placed at high ranks. Rupees 5 lakhs were spent every year on Holi festival in which he also use to prticipate.

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NAWAB WAZIR ALI KHAN

(1212-1212 AH / 1797-1798 AD)

Click for enlarged picture of Wazir Ali 

Adopted son of Asaf-ud-daula

(Mother a servant of Haram)

Capital : Lucknow

 After the death of Asaf-ud-daula Wazir Ali Khan came to power for four months only. He was the adopted son of Asaf-ud-daula, whose Mother was a servant of his "Harem" (Ladies Palace). Nobles of Royal coart and Bahu Begum signed a letter and sent to Governor general to remove Wazir Ali. But the people were in favor of Wazir Ali Khan as he was against the British.

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NAWAB SADAT ALI KHAN

(1212-1229 AH / 1798-1814 AD)

S/o Shuja-ud-daula

Capital : Lucknow

Click for enlarged picture of Sadat Ali 

Company after the assurance from Sadat Ali Khan for acquiescence to the company and to carry out its orders, announced his accession on Jan 21, 1798 AD. He was to sign another treaty by which the annual amount to be paid to the Company was increased by 20 lakhs to 76 lakhs. Fort of Allahabad and Fatahgarh along with 12 lakhs were given to Company for putting him on the throne. Governor asked him to reduce the force of Awadh ( Which was 80,000 at the time of Asaf-ud-daula). His powers got reduced very much within three years of his reign. He became unable to pay the duesto the Company. On Nov 10, 1801 AD Company has taken half of the Awadh after his signature. Company got the area of Ruhelkhand, Farukhabad, Mainpuri, Itawa, Kanpur, Fatahgarh, Allahabad, Azamgarh, Basti and Gorakhpur, from where Awadh was getting an income of Rs. 3 crores.

Sadat Ali Khan had changed his way of life, no hunting, wine and women. Now he was a responsible ruler. He by his able management and extra ordinary caliber brought again happiness in his reduced Awadh. He also encouraged poets, writers and artists. He died on Jul 11, 1814 AD.

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GHAZI-UD-DIN HAIDER

Nawab (1229-1234 AH / 1814-1819 AD)

King (1234-1243 AH / 1819-1827 AD)

Click for enlarge picture of Ghaziuddin Haider 

S/o Sadat Ali Khan

Capital : Lucknow

 After the death of Sadat Ali Khan his son Ghazi-ud-din Haider became Nawab Wzir on July 11, 1814 AD with the promise that he will continue to obey the previous treaty and will act as an independant prince and must be subservient to the British Govt. He accepted all these conditions. After the death of Bahu Begum all her property was siezed by British Govt. Instead of giving it to its legal heir Ghazi-ud-din Haider. He also did not claimed for it. Relation between him and British Govt. Became pleasant. British Govt. Asked him to declare as an independent king in 1819. During his reign poets were encouraged very much. He died on Oct 10,1827.

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NASIR-UD-DIN HAIDER

(1243-1253 AH / 1827-1837 AD)

Click for enlarged picture of Nasiruddin Haider 

S/o Ghazi-ud-din Haider

Capital Lucknow

After the death of Ghazi-ud-din Haider his son Nasir-ud-din Haider ascende the throne on October 20, 1827 at the age of 25 years. He was fond of woman and wine. There was total mismanagement in his reign. He changed three times his Wazir. He was enamoured of English dresses and culture. Due to this British got the doors to enter the Darbar (court) politics and started defaming the king. He even lost the faith on her Begamats (wives). Even under these circumstances he worked for the betterment of his people. He always helped the poor and needy. He died on Jul 7, 1837 AD.

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MUHAMMAD ALI SHAH

(1253-1258 AH / 1837-1842 AD)

Click for enlarged picture  

S/o Sadat Ali Shah

Capital : Lucknow

After the death of Nasir-ud-din Haider her mother Badshah Begum declared Munna Jan (Faridoon Bakht) S/o of Nasiruddin as King. Company was not ready for this. There was first battle between Awadh and British forces.Badshah Begum and Munna Jan were arrested and Muhammad Ali Shah brother of Ghaziuddin Haider and uncle of Nasiruddin was declared King after getting a written assurance that he will accept any new treaty put up by Governor General. Administrative, financial and defence powers were reduced very much. In his reign new canals were constructed, wells and ponds were dug, Musafir Khana (Inn) were constructed. Imambara Hussainabad, pond Hussainabad, Jama Masjid and other buildings were constructed. He died on May 7, 1842 AD.

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 AMJAD ALI SHAH

(1258-1263 AH / 1842-1847 AD)

Click for Enlarged Picture of Amjad Ali 

S/o Muhammad Ali Shah

Capital : Lucknow

After the death of Muhammad Ali Shah, his son Amjad Ali Shah was put on the throne. By this time British Govt. Have become so power full in Awadh that it was searching a way to grab it. He was of helping nature, very polite and well mannered. He constructed Iron Bridge on Gomti river, metal road from Lucknow to Kanpur for the benefit of his people. He died on February 13, 1847 at the age of 48 years.

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WAJID ALI SHAH

(1263-1272 AH / 1847-1856 AD)

Click for enlarged picture of Wajid Ali 

 S/o Amjad Ali Shah

Capital : Lucknow

 Wajid Ali Shah came to power on Feb 14, 1847 AD. British Govt. Now started framing different charges of mismanagement, public unrest and inefficient ruler against Wajid Ali Shah. Lord Harding warned him on Nov' 1847 AD, if there is no improvement in the administration, Company will take over the charge of Awadh in her hand. Col. Sluman was sent as Resident specially for this work. In the words of Samual Lucas "...The character of his report was determined for him. He professed to examine but he was under orders to sentence, he pretended to try, but he was instructed to simply condemn."

British Govt. Started even interfering in the internal Palace affairs. All the appointments were done by the resident. After 9 years on Feb 4, 1856 AD Resident General Outram read out the orders that you are no more a king and company has taken over the full charge of Awadh.

Wajid Ali Shah was beloved and respected by his subjects, for the highest to the lowest, from the Raja to the Raiyat and this the more so as he has ever discharged the duties of his high office with justice tempered by mercy. Music and drama was also encouraged in his reign. King himself has written about 50 books. As a poet his title was "Akhtar". Despite several obstacles Awadh progressed in trade, industry, Urdu literature, whose foundation was put by his forefathers 135 years ago.

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BIRJIS QADRA

(1273-1274 AH / 1857-1858 AD)

Click for enlarged picture of Birjis Qadra 

S/o Wajid Ali Shah

Capital : Lucknow

 

Begum Hazrat Mahal wife of Wjid Ali Shah led the Indian Independance movement against British Government in 1857. She put her son Mirza Birjis Qadra on the throne of Awadh on 12 Ziqada 1273 AH at the age of 12 years. They had to leave Lucknow due to British conspiracy. They went to Kathmandu (Nepal) where he got married with Nawab Mahtab Ara, the grand daughter of the last Mughal King Bahadur Shah Zafar. Begum Hazrat Mahal died on April' 1879. Brijis Qadra came to Calcutta in 1893 where he was murdered with poison in food on Aug 14, 1893. After 1857 war, when British Govt. Came in power in whole India, Awadh has also lost its gegraphical status. It was given the name of United States of Agra and Awadh. It was renamed as United Provices in 1902 (Now Uttar Pradesh).

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Hijra Year

Hijra era is the Muslim era dating from AD 622 when Prophet Muhammad was obliged to quit Mecca and flee for safety to Medina. Hijra means flight. It is a Lunar era of about 354 days, and so is 11 days shorter than the solar year.

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H A Siddiqui