In the words of Mr. George Russell, a reporter for The New York Times, who visited Lucknow after the first war of Indian Independence in 1857, “the stretch of road from Roomi Darwaza to Chattar Manzil is the most beautiful and spectacular cityscape that he had ever seen, better than Rome, Paris, London and Constantinople.”
The times have changed. Lucknow has lost much of its claim to fame but the traces of this city’s glorious and regal past still say it loud enough.
It may be just a gateway for Lucknowites, but, Roomi Darwaza occupies an important place amongst some of the world’s most imposing historical structures. A drive through that part of the city can transport you back into the times of the Nawabs. Passing by the imposing structure on a Tonga (horse-drawn carriage) today, you can still get the feel of the grandeur of the lavish lifestyles that the Nawabs enjoyed.
Roomi Darwaza is an impressive 60 feet high gateway in Lucknow which is located to the west of Asafi Imambara, popularly known as the Bada Imambara, and is one of the major landmarks of Lucknow. This wonderful piece of Awadhi architecture was constructed under the patronage of Nawab Asaf-Ud-Daulah in the year 1786 and is a must visit if you are on a visit to the city of Nawabs.
History of Roomi Darwaza
The design of the structure bears resemblance to an ancient gateway at Constantinople, hence it is also known by the name of the “Turkish Gateway.” The word “Roomi” means “Roman” and the name was probably given due to the gateway’s design having traces of Roman architecture. It also holds the distinction of being the “Signature Building of Lucknow.”
Roomi Darwaza was built under the “Food for Work” program introduced by the Nawab Asaf-Ud-Daulah to bring relief to the masses suffering under the impact of famine. The distinguishing feature of this imposing gateway is that it does not have additional wood or iron fittings to support it from outside.
Architecture of the Roomi Darwaza
Now, let us talk about the architectural fineness of this edifice with its topmost part adorned with an octagonal chhatri or umbrella, which is beautifully and intricately carved. It is a mark of Awadhi architecture. In the past, the chhatri or umbrella was approachable by the staircase, which gave you an opportunity to get a bird’s eye view of the place and its surrounding areas. A huge lantern was also placed on the top of Roomi Darwaza that would illumine the imposing gateway at night to make it look spectacular and enchanting.
The archway of Roomi Darwaza is adorned with beautifully carved flower buds and designs that speak volumes about the minute details in its architecture. In the early days, the artistically carved flower buds of the archway had small jets of water gushing outwards, adding to the charm and splendour of the Darwaza.
All the architectural detailing, taken together, makes this structure look like a “Gateway to the world of Nawabs.” The exquisite carvings on the archway throw light on its architectural finesse for those who have an eye for detail. Its base story has three arched gateways for the traffic to pass through.
Whether you are a regular visitor to the City of Nawabs or a first timer, you can marvel at the architectural elegance of Roomi Darwaza any time of the day or night as it stands tall, welcoming all the visitors with open gates.