I visited The Residency in Lucknow this year after three decades - little of the ruins had obviously changed, but I still saw it differently. Time had altered the way I was now absorbing the ruin. I was imagining it as a home that was lived in – the life in the past, before it became a ruin.
The land, the landscape, and the peripheral wall of the definite precinct were the same and yet no longer the same. The world within and the world outside had changed long ago - with the definitive moment when The Residency was attacked amidst the political shift of power.
The buildings now feel porous, without the roofs the columns feel taller, the outer walls catch the setting sun’s light while the inner room walls seem to miss its warmth, except the sunlight that enters from the arched openings. The uneasy silent entry of this light is now through absent doors, windows, fallen roofs and walls.
With the ravages of time and history, ageing ruins the structures, becoming much like the human body - skeletal and soulful. Now the lime plaster is gone and so is the embellishment. Now the meticulous construction in brick is seen clearly, for us to understand its anatomy.
The beautiful preservation of the mosque within the precinct uses almost orthopaedic methods. The metal cage compressing the minaret for stability and longevity. The beauty of the old remains and so does the inventiveness of a later time, and very apparent.
The Residency is located in the city of Lucknow in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Also commonly known as the British Residency or Residency Complex, it is a group of several buildings constructed between 1780 and 1800 AD, which once served as the residence for the British Resident General, a representative of the British in the court of the Nawab (the native governor).
The Residency was subject to the Siege of Lucknow between July 1, 1857 and November 17, 1857, during the great Indian Rebellion of 1857 against the British rule, after which it was left in ruins.
(All images by Soumitro Ghosh)