The Bengal government has put up two plaques to commemorate the arrival of Wajid Ali Shah, the banished nawab of Lucknow who was instrumental in introducing the Calcutta Biryani with its distinct taste that has swept gastronomes off their feet.
On Friday, the West Bengal Heritage Commission (WBHC) unveiled two blue plaques — in Bengali and English — at Bichali Ghat in Metiabruz to denote the place where the nawab embarked. The event was attended by descendants of the nawab, the city’s heritage enthusiasts and officials of WBHC. Basudeb Mallick, officer-on-special-duty with WBHC, explained the significance of the blue plaque. “Nawab Wajid Ali Shah disembarked here on May 13, 1856. This installation was a move by Purono Kolkatar Galpo (PKG), a group of heritage enthusiasts who insisted on adding cultural and historical texts to places of historical importance in the city,” said Mallick.
On May 13, 1856, the last nawab of Awadh reached Bichali Ghat after losing his estate and wealth to British conspiracy. He was greeted with a 21 gun salute and given an annual pension of Rs 12 lakh. He first resided at BNR House and, during the Sepoy Mutiny, he was kept under watch in Fort William. “After his release, the nawab did not want to return to Lucknow and started giving Mertiabruz some sense and flavour of the Lucknow he had left behind,” said Jayanta Sen of PKG.
Swarnali Chattopadhyay of PKG said, “During numerous heritage walks, we found that there was no marker to point out the arrival of the nawab who added so much value to the cultural, culinary and literary ethos of the city. This is why we approached the heritage commission to put up a marker to remind daily commuters about the the history of the place.”
Shahenshah Mirza, the nawab’s great great grandson, thanked the heritage commission for taking the initiative. “It is an important beginning. Many of the heritage structures associated with Wajid Ali Shah do not exist any more. But if markers are put up, our progeny can recognize the places and know the history of the city-within-a-city — the Chhoti Lucknow.”
After the informal function, the attendees went to Sibtainabad Imambara, which was built by the nawab.
Source: Times of India