Heritage Resources of Farrukhabad, Uttar Pradesh: Buildings of the Bangash Nawabs
Contributed by Anuradha Chaturvedi, Conservationist & Acamedician
Introduction: Located within the central doab region of UP, on the banks of the River Ganges, the Farrukhabad region has been of great importance for more than three thousand years. Known as Kampila, the region has been renowned from the 6th century BCE onwards as a centre of learning and culture. The archaeological resources of this region include sites associated with Draupadi mentioned in the Mahabharata, the Buddha, as well as dynasties such as the Nandas, Mauryas, Shungas, Guptas and Hunas; Ashoka the Great built a great Stupa at Kannauj and erected a monolithic pillar at the site of Sankisa, associated with one of the great events in the life of Gautama Buddha. Although Kannauj remained more prominent in this region known for its Ganga-Yamuni culture in subsequent periods, and was briefly under the governorship of Abdul Rahim Khan-e-Khanan during the reign of Emperor Jahangir, it was Farrukhabad that emerged as the capital and a thriving trade centre from the early 18th century onwards, under the later Mughal rulers. Unique Heritage of Farrukhabad: Farrukhabad, a walled city with twenty two ‘garhis’ and 12 unique gateways, was established in 1714 by Muhammad Khan of the Bangash Afghan tribe, who was allied with the later Mughal king Farrukhsiyar. Muhammad Khan Bangash named the new town Farrukhabad in honour of Farrukhsiyar. Farrukhabad flourished as a riverine port on the Ganges, renowned for its printed textiles – an artisanal tradition that is famous even today. The artisans workshops were in the heart of the city, and the citadel was sited on an elevated archaeological mound. Farrukhabad became a tributary of the Awadh nawabs in 1777, and the headquarters of the British was established in the twin town of Fatehgarh, where all the institutional buildings, offices and courts came up. The town of Farrukhabad today has only one National monument protected by the Archaeological Survey of India - the tomb of Muhammad Khan Bangash Nawab, that is located within a designed late-Mughal garden known as the Haiyat Baksh Bagh. The rest of the town, with its city walls, surviving gateways, gardens and haveli complexes and historic bazaar shophouses and karkhanas is not recognized as heritage, and the historic buildings and gardens are not listed. The unique features of this walled town, located on the banks of the earlier course of the Ganges include: The Historic Riverfront of the 19th century with its splendid ghats, riverside pavilions, courtyard gardens, painted temple complexes, historic ‘pathshalas’ and havelis which because of the change in the river course are unused and derelict. The riverfront of the 19th century with loading ghats and buildings constructed for the riverine port during the colonial period. The city walls and gates constructed in the later Mughal style using lime mortar and brick masonry with unique, idiosyncratic details influenced by the nawabi ornamentation of Awadh.