The Rumi Darwaza, also known as the Turkish Gate, is situated in Lucknow Uttar Pradesh, India. One of the great architectural wonders, it is a grand gateway which was built under Nawab Asaf-Ud-d=Daulah in 1784. Built in the Awadhi architecture, it is marked as the entrance to the city of Lucknow. The stretch of road from Rumi Darwaza to Chattar manzil is one of the most beautiful cityscapes of India.
The city of Lucknow is called the Constantinople (now Istanbul) of the East. It is due to the reason that the architecture in the arches and domes of city’s most ancient monuments have a striking resemblance to those that exist in Constantinople the 60 feet high, Rumi Darwaza which is one of the foremost symbols of the Awadh culture and history.
This gigantic structure is one of the most pristine monuments of Avadh’s glorious past.The Rumi Darwaza or the Turkish Gate stands in the close vicinity of the Bara Imambara. Often called the face of Lucknow, the monument has been a lucky mascot of the Awadh for over two centuries now. Since the gate is a replica of a gate of the fortress in Constantinople, it is popular as the Turkish gate.
Rumi Darwaza was one of the architectural projects undertaken by the fourth ruler of Awadh, Nawab Asaf-Ud-Daulah as part of his relief operations, to provide work and help to the famine affected people in his state in 1783-84. The gate was built along with Bara Imambara when Awadh was plagued by famine. The Nawab was a charitable man and he wanted to help those in need, however people had self-respect and they wanted to work, instead of accepting things for free. This was when the people worked night and day to create the Bada Imambara and Rumi Darwaza, while earning two square meals a day.
As many as 22,000 people worked hard, day and night, to construct the two structures. People earned money in lieu of their hard work which was of great relevance for them in the time of famine. The gateway was constructed over two years and completed in 1786. Around 1 Crore rupees was spent on the construction of this marvel.
There are different opinions as on who designed the Rumi Darwaza. Some believe that it was designed by an architect from Rum (Constantinople, the city of famous poet and philosopher Jalal-ud-din Rumi), who was in the city at that time. Others attribute the design to Kifait-ullah, who was the chief architect of the Nawab. Kifayat Ullah came to Lucknow from Delhi. His grave is situated beside the Nawab’s grave in Bara Imambara.
Despite its height and hugeness, no wood or iron was used in the construction of the gate. It has been made of lakhauri bricks with lime plaster and plaster molding. The structure gives different looks when viewed from different directions. Rumi Darwaza is indeed magnificent and without parallel because of its two-faced form, when viewed from the West, appears like a great mehraab – a grand gateway formed by two arcs that are extra large. Around half-way up the inner archway, three medium-sized arched gateways appear from within the larger gateway, in a semicircular fashion. Another set of small archways appears on the top of these gateways. Along the side of the gateway are found two slender stone lamp-posts. The rear of the three medium-sized gateways is also seen on the eastern side. On the top of these gateways is another line of smaller archways, upon which is a perforated wall with small openings.
On the roof of the gateway there is another structure with a set of five doorways on each wall. The walls spread outwardly in a pentagonal form. The roof of this geometric structure culminates in a small platform. Above this, a red stone chattri (cupola) serves as the crown or mukutoi the structure. This crown is visible from all sides. During the Nawabi days, a large lantern was said to have been placed in this chhattri.
The great mehraab of Rumi Darwaza has been copied over and over again in many buildings. The main entrance of the Jama Masjid and gateways of Hussainabad Imambara built by King Mohammed Ali Shah, the facade of Nadawat-ul-Ulema at the Badshah Bagh and even the gateway of Salar Masood Ghazi’s tomb at Bahraich near Hardoi are examples where the replica of Rumi Darwaza may be seen.