Detour to the Gulab Bari in Faizabad

posted in: Asia, Heritage, India, Uttar Pradesh | 45

With that call to rush out of The Residency in Lucknow, I reluctantly bundled up into the car to head to our next destination on the Epic Indo Nepal trip – Gorakhpur. With my GPS route set to the destination, I fiddled around to see other places of interest around Ayodhya where we were to stop for a quick lunch. Faizabad popped up on my screen and with my hopeful eyes, I checked with Deepak from ScoutMyTrip on whether it made sense to head there instead of Ayodhya. I think he was in a good mood for he agreed with me when I said – “What is a road trip if there are no unplanned detours” and thus, we changed course to Faizabad.

Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh
Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh

Faizabad appealed to me for two reasons – for one, I was still in the Nawab hangover and this was the erstwhile capital of the Nawabs. Two, it has the romantic fiction of Umrao Jaan attached to it – for the lady in the story was born here. Deepak warned me that we just had 30 minutes at this destination for we had to reach Gorakhpur by nightfall. Thus, we could visit only one of the three places that Faizabad had to offer. Gulab Bari was a popular pick and absolutely worth our while – as you will now discover for yourselves.

An introduction to Faizabad

If the Nawab who built the famous Bara Imambara and Rumi Darwaza had not fought with his mom, we might have had Faizabad as the capital of Uttar Pradesh. #JustSaying .ย I mean if you were to go with his grandparents, it was already the capital of Awadh. Skipping my dramatics, let’s understand the facts. Faizabad was essentially the powerhouse of the Nawabs of Awadh. Nawabs as I explained in my earlier post, were the vassals of the Mughals. It was Nawab Saadat Ali Khan who first built the town and later Nawab Shuja-Ud Daula developed it. However, following bitter relations with his mom, his successor Nawab Asaf Ud-Daula moved his capital to Lucknow and thus, changed history. The town was abandoned shortly and later, lost to oblivion.

Faizabad in current times
Faizabad in current times

They say that there was a secret passage from Lucknow to Faizabad via one of the many tunnels of the Bhool Bhulaiya. This served as a secret escape route for the Royals. Hmmm.. now that is something I would want to explore.

History of the Gulab Bari

Gulab Bari with the Mausoleum in Faizabad
Gulab Bari with the Mausoleum in Faizabad

With at least 2 royal generations in Faizabad, there were bound to be relics of the past still existing. A little search online showed at least 3 major ones of which we picked Gulab Bari. The name literally means “Garden of Roses”. However, what the description showed us was more than just a Garden. It was the resting place of Nawab Shuja Ud Daula. The place was built during the lifetime of the Nawab. It served many religious functions when the Nawab was alive but today, the place is quite abandoned and its importance lost.

Gates of Gulab Bari at Faizabad

Pathway to Gulab Bari in Faizabad
Pathway to Gulab Bari in Faizabad

With the GPS set to Gulab Bari, we entered the narrow lanes of Faizabad. Passing through the ancient gateways and numerous one-way, we reached the famous Garden of Roses. The place lay quite abandoned and except for a few locals and free-roaming goats, there was no one around a majestic looking gate.

The pillar with the national emblem outside Gulab Bari in Faizabad
The pillar with the national emblem outside Gulab Bari in Faizabad

Standing tall in front of the gate was a huge pillar of our national emblem – the Sarnath Lion. The plaque on it read that it was established by Captain Bhagwan Singh in July 1952. There was no other information around here except for another fading board with the history of Gulab Bari on it.

The arched gateway to Gulab Bari in Faizabad
The arched gateway to Gulab Bari in Faizabad

The wooden – irons shielded the view of what was inside with its partial closure and that gave me a little time to absorb the watch balconies and their designs. Most of the etching was faded but the one thing that was evident was the emblem of the Nawabs – the infamous fish.

The fish emblem of the Nawabs etched on the gates of Gulab Bari in Faizabad
The fish emblem of the Nawabs etched on the gates of Gulab Bari in Faizabad

The Mosque & Imambara in Gulab Bari

The mosque at Gulab Bari in Faizabad
The mosque at Gulab Bari in Faizabad

From the outside itself, you could well spot an impressive ancient mosque that even had the Shia Imambara attached to it. The tall minarets in some ways reminded me of the Asafi mosque that I saw a day before in Lucknow. My guess is that this might have been the model for that mosque for that was built later.

The watchtower next to the mosque at Gulab Bari in Faizabad
The watchtower next to the mosque at Gulab Bari in Faizabad

A small watchtower stood next to the mosque but there were no gates around it. The only way in was through the impressive gates that I was standing outside of.

First Glimpse inside Gulab Bari

The tomb of the Nawab at the Gulab Bari in Faizabad
The tomb of the Nawab at the Gulab Bari in Faizabad

Stepping inside the partially closed gates was like a curtain being raised to an impressive Mausoleum. The central tomb stood in all its glory, perfectly constructed to fit into the view of those arched gateways. A typical Persian architectural style lay before me with the Char Bagh styled gardens that one can see at the Taj Mahal and Humayun’s tomb. Lining the pathway were non-functional fountains while around it, the green gardens that seemed better maintained than the monument itself. It was these gardens that had several rose plants, thus lending the monument its present name.

The Maqbara of Gulab Bari in Faizabad

The Maqbara of Gulab Bari, Faizabad
The Maqbara of Gulab Bari, Faizabad

With half of my allotted time left, I quickly walked around the main tomb or the Maqbara. Though fading, the white and red building was quite an impressive one. I could not help but get impressed by its arched passages – that might have been quite something back in those days. A peek through the windows that were barred on the ground floor allowed me to see a central tomb-like structure. This might have been where the Nawabs rested.

The arched passages of the Maqbara in Faizabad
The arched passages of the Maqbara in Faizabad

Walking around the building, I saw several little corners where the Nawabs of today or the local folks had occupied for that little afternoon snooze. Without disturbing them, I managed to find the very staircase that might have led to the first level of the Maqbara. Sadly, those were barred and I had no way of taking that view from atop.

Level one of the Tomb in Faizabad from outside
Level one of the Tomb in Faizabad from outside

The rooftop was the most interesting with those little minarets and pavilions that resembled the Rajput ones. I bet the red stone there contrasted beautifully with the white building making this one gorgeous place in those days.

Close up of the upper floor and the roof of the tomb
Close up of the upper floor and the roof of the tomb

The other buildings at Gulab Bari in Faizabad

All around the peripheral wall of the Gulab Bari were several other smaller buildings. All of these have been closed but from what I understood, they might have been a part of the Royal Bathhouse (Shahi Hamam) and the Imambara. With no tourists flocking this small town, there was no restoration done here. It was hard to recognize what was what and with the locals using it as their Siesta point, slowly all that is there could be lost.

The other buildings in Faizabad Gulab Bari
The other buildings in Faizabad Gulab Bari

Time allotted by Deepak for this stop-over was up and I left feeling quite incomplete – not coz I did not get to see it all. It was more because what I saw was fading away in history. Unless some serious steps are taken by ASI (Archaelogical Society of India), we might just lose this piece of history forever. The situation is a bit of a chicken and egg one – just because there are few visitors, there is no restoration and vice versa. I hope steps are taken to make this right and better for this gorgeous monument definitely needs a facelift.

Getting here

  • Faizabad is a small town that shares a border with Ayodhya. It is just 130 km from the state capital Lucknow and can make a great day outing from here. It can be reached directly by bus or train from Lucknow.
  • Gulab Bari can be reached at this location that you can access on your mobile.

Travel Tips

  • The entry fees for this monument is just INR 5. It is open from 5 am to 7 pm every day
  • Winter is the best time to visit here as it tends to get quite hot in summers.
  • While in Faizabad, don’t miss the Moti Mahal and Bahu Begum’s tomb.
  • You can even drop into its neighboring town – Ayodhya for some gorgeous Hindu temples
  • There are plenty of places to eat and relax when in Faizabad.
  • There are no guides at these monuments.
Share the Thrill of Travel

45 Responses

  1. asoulwindow

    I am so keen on visiting Faizabad. It is just a few kilometers away from my home in Lucknow. After reading your blog, I realized what I have been missing out on. I am visiting Lucknow soon and will try to make it to Faizabad and Ayodhya.

  2. Dada

    Look at those ancient buildings in Gulab Bari in Faizabad! Even though they are old I can still imagine how they looked like before! To bad that the goverment is letting this historical place down! I hope they will come to their sense and start the work on restoring Gulab Bari!

    • Ami

      I hope so too, the place does need a face lift. Despite its ruined state, it still is amazing as you mentioned. Cheers

  3. Lisa

    It’s incredible these buildings are still standing, and in pretty good condition too. Were there any roses ever here from your translation of the place name? I’ve never heard of Gulab Bari, so thank you for bringing something new into my travel vocabulary!

    • Ami

      There were a lot of roses there, just that not many were blooming at that point. Hoping for a better maintenance there Lisa.

  4. Maggie

    What a fascinating place! I really love the architecture. I love that they maintained it and didn’t try to modernize it. Hopefully the government steps in and restores some of these amazing structures!

  5. James

    I didn’t know there was so much royal history in India. The mosque at Gulab Bari is very Instagrammable, when I make it back to this part of the world I must visit it. It sounds so peaceful around these monuments, which is rare for such beauty.

  6. Abigail Sinsona

    Wow India has so many secret and hidden gems! Faizabad is one of them and it is so interesting how you told the story of how you came to visit it. The architecture are worth coming to this city for. I love it and so breathtaking!

  7. Ha

    I love that you wrote about the history of Faizabad so I can understand about it more! The architecture in Faizabad is so gorgeous and stunning. I would love to wandering around those buildings, observing each corner of them. India has so many beautiful places to visit and I hope I can go there one day!

  8. Cat

    I’m fascinated by the architectures there! The Maqbara in Faizabad has so much details to it. Thank you for sharing the history of Faizabad!

  9. Julien Mordret

    I keep seeing many articles about Indian monuments, and this is a great one! I love how it looks very ancient and very well preserved at the same time – and your beautiful pictures show it very well! It’s a great suggestion to add to an itinerary in India, beyong the obvious monuments.

    • Ami

      I wish they would do some restoration here. It does need a bit of it… Else it is lovely. I hope you plan a visit soon. Cheers

  10. Anuradha Goyal

    I did both Faizabad and Ayodhya and would choose later any day over the one of the million tombs that you see in Faizabad. Yes, it was the earlier capital of Awadh but Ayodhya was the historic capital of Awadh since time immemorial. Did you visit the famous Guptaar Ghat in Faizabad – a boat ride on Saryu is an experience I will never forget.

    • Ami

      Like I mentioned, Anuradha, this was just a 30 min stop and there was only this monument that we could see. Glad to be able to do that at least. I definitely would want to go back for all the other stuff. Cheers

  11. Tamara Elliott

    Faizabad sounds like a fun spot for a day trip- that mosque is particularly impressive! I just love the grand architecture in India, and hope to see it first-hand someday!

  12. Debra Schroeder

    Deepak has the right idea. Unplanned detours are an integral part of road trips and what makes road trips so much fun! Faizabad sounds like an interesting town. The Gulab Bari architecture is amazing.

    • Ami

      I am glad Deepak was in his right mood! And he did humor me by doing this detour. Loved every bit of the discovery and I hope to make a planned trip here again.

  13. Parnashree Devi

    I really appreciate your love for historical sites and monuments. I have heard about Faizabad , but haven’t got the chance to visit it myself. This is a visual tour through your blog post. I also strongly believe that ASI should take strong action in conservation of historical monuments. Its quite interesting to know about Gulab Bari .

  14. Nisha

    We were so close to Faizabad yet so far. Being in Lucknow for a few days, we could not take time out for Faizabad at all. After reading your account of Faizabad and more particularly Gulab Bari I think we should have made an effort. ๐Ÿ™‚ Nice Photos ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Marvi

    Wow.. I love the architecture! Though I must say, there is really a need for preservation and restoration.. Thank you for bringing this up Ami! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m sure the Maqbara, the mosque, watchtower and the rest of the structure would’ve been more majestic if preserved well..

  16. Alli

    The architecture is so lovely! It looks so wonderfully ancient, just full of history! Good thing to know about guides not being present – you will just have to be your own guide and research thoroughly ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Lois Alter Mark

    What an amazing place to randomly happen upon during your road trip- so glad Deepak was willing to take a bit of a detour! The architecture is absolutely marvelous. Would love to visit when the roses are in full bloom!

  18. Lauren

    The history here is fascinating and the architecture is stunning. I absolutely love the arched doorways and the views on the other side. It is really a place Iโ€™d love to wander around and explore. Thank you for sharing your story! I would definitely wander around in complete wonderment.

    • Ami

      I don’t think this one has been in any movie coz this is quite an offbeat one. Maybe something similar. Thanks for stopping by

  19. Richa Asthana Prakash

    What a wonderful vignette Ami!

    I used to live in Faizabad in the early 80s and we’d visit Gulab Bari very often in the evenings, surprisingly, especially in the summer. Because it would invariably cool down by say 5 or 6 pm. Sounds amazing doesn’t it? global warming!

    There were actual roses; I especially remember pink and red ones; and narrow waterways all around the complex. The place would be dotted with families with children running amok, and parents not caring much which way they ran. There was no entrance fee in those times, it was free for anyone who cared for a stroll.

    I remember having picnics on the lawns in winters when other flowers would be blossoming all around.

    Faizabad was a dusty little moffusil town in those days, yet filled with importance at its own history. People especially took pride in the fact that even though the city was made up nearly equally of hindus and muslims, there had never once been a riot. The city had a very rich and thriving syncretic culture…the grand ramlilas, the passionate tazia processions, the stunning Durga puja pandals in Bajaja (a neighborhood where we lived), the Eid celebrations (and all that eidi we got no matter what your parents’ religion!)

    Guess it’s all lost!

    • Ami

      I could still see some of that charm when I visited. Albeit it was too short a time and I hope to remedy it with another trip here. Thank you for sharing your experience here and it does seem like you have a lot of memories and good ones of this place.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.