The next visit was to the palace of Claude Martine, a conglomeration of all the styles of architecture ever known, and some that were never heard of. At first view it looks like a small palace set on the top of a large one. It is certainly very original and very elaborate. Going to the citadel, they entered by a highly ornamental gateway, which opened to the visitors the view of the vast pile of buildings, in the middle of which is the Imambara. The vastness of the pile presented before them was bewildering, though they had seen so many immense structures that mere size did not now overwhelm them. The Great Imambara is considered the marvel of Lucknow, and should not be confounded with another in the citadel bearing the same general name. To walk around or through this enormous building was simply impossible, and the party contented themselves with a general view from different points. It is located on a lofty terrace; and its long line of walls, crowned with Arabic domes, is very imposing.
“This palace was erected at the close of the last century, by Nawab, with half a yard of other names to fetch up its rear,” said Major Shandon, the military officer who was doing the honors of the city, with a pleasant smile. “Like many others of the Indian monarchs, he desired to immortalize his name by erecting a monument in his own honor; and he offered a prize for the competition of all the architects of India, for one that would surpass all others. We think he produced a plan that was worth the money he received; though we don’t think he surpassed the Taj, or some other buildings that might be mentioned.”
This immense structure is now a vast arsenal. The other building, which sometimes robs this one of its honors, is called the Hoosseinabad Imambara; and perhaps the length of the added name may account, to some extent, for the robbery. It is in the citadel, and in sight of its namesake; but the mausoleum, for it is the tomb of Ali Shah, who died in 1841, stands alone; and it does not fatigue the eyes to look at it. It is a light, ethereal sort of structure, and looks like lacework. It is surmounted by a beautiful dome, and the roof bristles with the points of turrets and towers. It contains, besides the tomb of the monarch, a mosque, a bazaar, and a model of the Taj, which make up a sufficient variety for an edifice erected for a tomb.
This temple completed the list marked out for inspection in Lucknow. The party had not supposed there was much of anything here to be seen except the memorials of the Mutiny; and for these alone they would not have missed seeing the historic locality. The rest of the day was devoted to rides through the streets and suburbs of the city. The avenues were wide, the houses neat and commodious, and the gardens laid out with English taste. The evidences of British thrift were to be seen in many portions of the place.