DMPQ- Critically evaluate the rule of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah -The last nawab of Awadh.

Wajid Ali Shah, the eldest son of Amjad Ali Shah, became the king of Awadh in 1847. Wajid Ali Shah was himself a great theatre genius and had set up a Pari Khana for training artists. He was also a great patron of artists, singers and musicians. He lived in an atmosphere of gaiety and merriment. Wajid Ali Shah was completely given to pleasure in the closing years of his reign. He was devoted to his large harem, his boon companions, his columbary, and his large and impressive menagerie.

Wajid Ali Shah was greatly interested in architecture. He started building the Qaiser Bagh palace complex as soon as he came to power. The inner court yard of Qaiser Bagh, with its lawns was called Jilo Khana. In the center was a Baradari flanked by two mermaid gates (Lakhigate) on eastern and western ends. On the right end was Chandwali Baradari, which was paved with silver and the Khas Muqam and Badshah Manzil, which used to be special residence of the king. The buildings at Qaiser Bagh quadrangle were occupied mainly by the ladies of his seraglio. To the left of western Lakhi Gate was Roshan-ud Daula Kothi built by the Wazir of Nasiruddin Haider. Wajid Ali Shah confiscated it and named it Qaiser Pasand, where one of his wife Mushuq Mahal used to live. He purchased Chaulakhi Kothi from Azimulla Khan. During the first war of independence, Begum Hazrat Mahal held her court from this Kothi.

The British were looking for an opportunity to annex Awadh. About Wajid Ali Shah, Lord Dalhousie once wrote: “The king of Oudh seems disposed to bumptious. I wish he would be. To swallow him before I go, would give me satisfaction”. He referred to Awadh as the “luscious cherry” that will drop into their mouth one day especially if the British continued shaking the tree to help it down.

They found an opportunity. Hindu – Muslim rupture over Hanuman Garhi at Ayodhya created so much tumult for the secular-minded king that the British got an excuse to annex Awadh on the self – righteous ground that “British Government would be guilty in the sight of God and man, if it were any longer to aid in sustaining by its countenance an administration with evil to millions.” The British annexed Awadh on 11th February 1856 deposing Wajid Ali Shah.

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