Oudh State

Coordinates: 26°47′N 82°08′E / 26.78°N 82.13°E / 26.78; 82.13
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Flag of Oudh Awadh
Coat of arms of Oudh Awadh
Coat of arms
The Kingdom of Oudh in 1856 (red)
The Kingdom of Oudh in 1856 (red)
Common languagesUrdu and Persian (official), Awadhi (regional), Hindi, English
Shia Islam (official), Hinduism (majority), Sunni Islam, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Christianity
• 1722–1739
Saadat Ali Khan I (first)
• 1847-1856
Wajid Ali Shah (last)
• Independence from Mughal Empire
• Annexation of Oudh
5 – 25 June 1857
3 March 1858
• Merger of Oudh to North-Western Provinces
62,072 km2 (23,966 sq mi)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Mughal Empire
Chero dynasty
North-Western Provinces and Oudh
Benares State
Nawab Saadat Ali Khan II.
Nawab Nasiruddin Haider

The Oudh State (/ˈd/,[1] also Kingdom of Awadh, Kingdom of Oudh, Awadh Subah, Oudh Subah or Awadh State) was a Mughal subah, then an independent kingdom, and lastly a princely state in the Awadh region of North India until its annexation by the British in 1856. The name Oudh, now obsolete, was once the anglicized name of the state, also written historically as Oudhe.

As the Mughal Empire declined and decentralized, local governors in Oudh began asserting greater autonomy, and eventually Oudh matured into an independent polity governing the fertile lands of the Central and Lower Doab. With the British East India Company entering Bengal and decisively defeating Oudh at the Battle of Buxar in 1764, Oudh fell into the British orbit.

The capital of Oudh was in Faizabad, but the Company's Political Agents, officially known as "Residents", had their seat in Lucknow. At par existed a Maratha embassy, in the Oudh court, led by the Vakil of the Peshwa, until the Second Anglo-Maratha War. The Nawab of Oudh, one of the richest princes, paid for and erected a Residency in Lucknow as a part of a wider programme of civic improvements.[2]

Oudh joined other Indian states in an upheaval against British rule in 1858 during one of the last series of actions in the Indian rebellion of 1857. In the course of this uprising detachments of the British Indian Army from the Bombay Presidency overcame the disunited collection of Indian states in a single rapid campaign. Determined rebels continued to wage sporadic guerrilla clashes until the spring of 1859. This rebellion is also historically known as the Oudh campaign.[3]

After the British annexation of Oudh by the Doctrine of Lapse, the North Western Provinces became the North Western Provinces and Oudh.[4]


Oudh Subah was one of the initial 12 subahs (later expanded to 15 subahs by the end of Akbar's reign) established by Akbar during his administrative reforms of 1572–1580. Subah was divided into Sarkars, or districts. Sarkars were further divided into Parganas or Mahals. As the Mughal empire began to dissolve in the early 18th century, Oudh, like many subahs became effectively independent.[5]


Saadat Ali Khan I was appointed Nawab of Oudh on 9 September 1722, succeeding Girdhar Bahadur. He immediately subdued the autonomous Shaikhzadas of Lucknow and Raja Mohan Singh of Tiloi, consolidating Oudh as a state. In 1728, Oudh further acquired Varanasi, Jaunpur and surrounding lands from the Mughal noble Rustam Ali Khan and established stable revenue collection in that province after quelling the chief of Azamgarh, Mahabat Khan.[6]: 44  In 1739 Saadat Khan mobilized Oudh to defend against Nader Shah's invasion of India, ultimately being captured in the Battle of Karnal. He attempted to cooperate with Nader Shah but died in Delhi.

In 1740, his successor Safdar Jang moved the capital of the state from Ayodhya to Faizabad.[7] Safdar Jang gained recognition from Persia after paying tribute. He continued Saadat Khan's expansionist policy, promising military protection to Bengal in exchange for the forts at Rohtasgarh and Chunar, and annexing portions of Farrukhabad with Mughal military aid which was ruled by Muhammad Khan Bangash.

As regional officials asserted their autonomy in Bengal and the Deccan as well as with the rise of the Maratha Empire, the rulers of Oudh gradually affirmed their own sovereignty. Safdar Jang went as far as to control the ruler of Delhi, putting Ahmad Shah Bahadur on the Mughal throne with the cooperation of other Mughal nobility. In 1748 he gained the subah of Allahabad with Ahmad Shah's official support. This was arguably the zenith of Oudh's territorial span.[8]: 132  [9]: 193 

The next nawab, Shuja-ud-Daula, extended Oudh's control of the Mughal emperor. He was appointed vazir to Shah Alam II in 1762 and offered him asylum after his failed campaigns against the British in the Bengal War.[9]

British contact and control[edit]

Since Oudh was located in a prosperous region, the British East India Company soon took notice of the affluence in which the Nawabs of Oudh lived. Primarily, the British sought to protect the frontiers of Bengal and their lucrative trade there; only later did direct expansion occur.


British dominance was established at the Battle of Buxar of 1764, when the East India Company defeated the alliance between the nawab of Oudh Shuja-ud-Daula and the deposed nawab of Bengal Mir Kasim.[10]: 25  The battle was a turning point for the once rising star of Oudh. The immediate effect was the British occupation of the fort at Chunar and the cession of the provinces of Kora and Allahabad to Mughal ruler Shah Alam II under the Treaty of Benares (1765). Shaja-ud-Daula further had to pay 5 million rupees as an indemnity, which was paid off in one year.[11]: 158 [9]: 252  The long-term result would be direct British interference in the internal state matters of Oudh, useful as a buffer state against the Marathas. The treaty also granted British traders special privileges and exemptions from many customs duties, which led to tensions as British monopolies were established.

Shuja-ud-Daula bought the Mughal provinces of Kora and Allahabad in the Treaty of Benares (1773) with the British (who held de facto control over the area) for 50 lakh rupees, increased the cost of Company mercenaries, and military aid in the First Rohilla War to expand Oudh as a buffer state against Maratha interests.[10]: 65 [11]: 75  Done by Warren Hastings, this move was unpopular among the rest of Company leadership, but Hastings continued a harsh policy on Oudh, justifying the military aid as a bid to strengthen Oudh's status as a buffer state against the Marathas. To shape the policy of Oudh and direct its internal affairs Hastings appointed the resident Nathaniel Middleton in Lucknow that year as well. At the conclusion of the First Rohilla War in 1774, Oudh gained the entirety of Rohilkhand and the Middle Doab region, only leaving the independent Rampur State as a Rohilla enclave.

The Turkic and Iranian Persian Twelver Shia Muslim royal family ruling the Oudh (Awadh) state in India obtained their eunuchs (khwajasarais) through crushing Hindu rebellions by their Indian Hindu subjects that they ruled, massacring Hindu men and enslaving the Hindu women and children with the South Asian Indian Hindu boys being castrated and sent into the harems for service as eunuchs, massacring Hindu men and enslaving the Hindu women and children with the Hindu boys being castrated and sent into the harems for service as eunuchs. Jawahir Ali was a eunuch of Oudh state who was born a Hindu. The rulers of Oudh (Awadh) state were Twelver Shia while Rajput Hindus made up most of the local cultivator landholding rajas. The Hindu Rajas of Khairabad rebelled since they refused to pay taxes to the Twelver Shia district administrator Nawab Muhammad Ali Khan so Nawab Muhammad Ali defeated the Hindus in battle and the Muslim historian Muhammad Faiz Bakhsh recorded in his book Tarikh Farahbakhsh that Muhammad Ali sent "hundreds of unbelievers (Hindus) to hell", enslaving their children and women and castrated the Hindu boys among the children. Adult Hindu women, Hindu girls, and Hindu boys like Jawahir Ali were enslaved by their Twelver Shia ruler. One Hindu boy died from being castrated but the rest of the Hindu boys including Jawahir Ali survived the castration and entered Muhammad Ali's service as eunuchs. The castrated Hindu boys were converted to Twelver Shia Islam and given Muslim names after being enslaved and then educated. The Twelver Shia Turkic Nawab of Oudh Shuja-ud-Daula (a descendant of the Turkic Twelver Shia Qara Qoyunlu dynasty through his father Safdar Jang) made Nawab Muhammad Ali Khan give his eunuchs including Jawahir Ali to him.[12][13] Jawahir Ali (Joahir Ali) served as nazir eunuch to Bahu Begum (Bahu Begam, Bahoo Begum or Buhoo Begum) (Begum Amanat-uz Zahra Bano), the Iranian Persian wife of the Turkic Twelver Shia ruler of Oudh, Shuja-ud-Daula.[14] Bahu Begum owned multiple eunuchs, all of them of Indian Hindu background. One of them was born a eunuch with defective genital and sold to the Nawab by his family, Darab Ali Khan and he was a general agent of Bahu Begam after Jawahir Ali. Another was a Brahmin Hindu boy who was kidnaped by castrators, enslaved and castrated when he was 14 after his famine stricken parents sold him to a woman of Sayyid background and he was the treasurer of Bahu Begam, Bahar Ali.[15] Jawahir Ali was the first general agent of Bahu Begam.[16]

Bahu Begam's estates were managed by Javahir 'Ali Khan. The Twelver Shia cleric Mawlavi Muhammad Munir who came to Faizabad and was there during a riot in 1779 between Sufi pirs and physicians against Twelver Shia clerics. Muhammad Munir was paid a stipend and backed up by Javahir Ali. Javahir Ali sent soldiers to support the Twelver scholars against the physicians. The Twelver Shia Usuli ulama were also supported by Javahir Ali when they implemented Friday prayers 7 years after the riots. Javahir paid 20 people to make people attend the 5 mandatory prayers and Friday prayer during the winter and rainy season.[17] Bahu Begum was of Persian Iranian descent. The British East India Company under Warren Hastings tortured the eunuchs Bahar Ali and Jawahir Ali after they arrested Bahu Begum in 1781 in order to force them to give their treasure over.[18]

Jawahir Ali Khan ordered 2 fellow eunuchs belonging to Bahu Begum, Sa'adat and Basharat to assist the Qadi (Qazi) at Ali Beg Khan mosque.[19][20] Due to cold weather, the eunuch minister Darab Ali Khan tried to stop Bahu Begam from reciting Fatiha at Imam Husain's tazia during Muharram but she went regardless and got a fever and cold.[21]

Bahu Begum only allowed Jawahir to enter when she was on her Sedan Chair speaking before British East India Company representative Mr. Lumsden in Lucknow. Darab Ali Khan came from the Salone district, Rusulabad.[22] Jawahir was interred in an imambarah made out of wood after he died in 1799 in Faizabad.[23] Bahu Begum had another favourite eunuch, Tehsin Ali Khan who died on 27 August 1818. He constructed a mosque and owned a Serai.[24] Bahu Begum's name was Amanat-uz Zahra and her eunuch Jawahar Ali Khan built an Imambara in Faizabad.[25] Bahu Begam was the younger sister of Mirza Muhammad[26]

As there is a full account given of Jawahir 'Ali Ķbán in connection with Faizábád, there is no need to speak of him here. Having filled the office of the Nazárat on earth for thirty-four years after the death of Nusrat 'Ali ķhán, he was summoned in 1214 A.H. [1799 A.D.), to superintend the huris of Firdaus, and hastened. to Paradise. Then the lucrative appointments which he had vacated were conferred on Muhammad Dáráb. Ali Ķbán. Although Jawahir . 'Ali Khán had thrice the dignity and opulence of his father,* for his authority extended from the mountain of Butwal on the north to the banks of the Ganges on the south, and he had more than 10,000 horse and foot, and had personal property greater than all the other eunuchs of Faizábád had been able to collect in their whole lives, yet he was never known to utter an arrogant or haughty word, and never assumed any manner or a form of speech which savoured of pride or arrogance. As he had evinced from his early boyhood a taste for literature, he was constantly engaged in reading, and when any literary discussion took place, he used to leave the most urgent business to go and share its advantages. In his early years he was fond of Arabic, and becoming proficient in etymology, syntax, and logic, he entered on the study of Şadra; but owing to his tours and journeys, which he had to make to Lucknow each year and sometimes to the mountain of Butwal, he was unable to make further progress.

He was an able expositor of the ambiguities of Persian poetry. Enigmas and riddles were solved in gatherings around him. Above all, he was especially fond of historical works. He read from beginning to end the Sháhnáma, Hamla-i-Haidarí, the Masnavís of Jalálu'ddín Rúmi, Ma'ariju'nnabuwat, Rauzatu'ssafa, Habibu'ssiyar, Shahjabánnáma, Akbarnáma, Taimúrnáma, Táriķh Farishta, and every other book on which he could lay his hands. The duty of reading these aloud to him was imposed on me. He used to listen to them from sunset until midnight. I heard many narratives and tales while thus privileged with the enjoyment of his society. He always sought the company of scholars, poets, and men of science. He is dead and gone.

* The relation of an old eunuch to a younger one as guru and chelá (priest and novice) is often referred to in this work. When a eunuch adopted another they were spoken of as father and son. This is the relation here alluded to, Jawábir 'Ali being looked on as the adopted son of Nusrat 'Ali, whom he succeeded. Muhammad Faiz Bakhsh, "Memoirs of Delhi and Faizábád: Being a Translation of the Táríḳh Farahbaḳhsh of Muhammad Faiz Baḳhsh from the Original Persian, Volume 1", pages iv-v.[27]

Yusuf Ali Khan and Ambar Ali Khan were 2 other eunuch boys who were raised with Jawahir Ali Khan.[28] Ambar Ali Khan was taken prisoner in the same battle as Jawahir Ali Khan when the Twelver Shia Commissioner Muhammad Ali Khan defeated the Hindu Rajputs of Khairabad (Sitapur) and castrated the Hindu boys.[29] Jawahir Ali Khan used white clothing for Mewatis, black clothing for irregulars and livery in mango green for household troops (Sahib Khanis) when he ordered his servants and soldiers to parade in Lucknow while he was administrator.[30] Jawahir Ali patronized intellectuals and culture as well as engaging in horsemanship and archery practice every day. He did not wear ornate, expensive or elaborate clothing and did not do extravagant grooming, since as a high ranking eunuch (khwajasarai) his mistress did not need to flaunt her wealth through him.[31] Jawahir Ali Khan cone had 1,000 servants shout "Din, Din" while raising banners and wearing white robes after taking off their black robes. One of his officials was Akhund Ahmad. Jawahir Ali had a dispute with his mistress Bahu Begum when he was blocking a road once and she sent a eunuch to tell him to stop it.[32]


Asaf-ud-Daula acceded to the nawabship of Oudh with British aid in exchange for the Treaty of Benares (1775) which further increased the cost of mercenaries and ceded the sarkars of Benares, Ghazipur, Chunar, and Jaunpur. From this time onwards, Oudh consistently complied with the Company's demands, which continued to demand more land and economic control over the state.[33]

The Treaty of Chunar (1781) sought to reduce the number of British troops in Oudh's service to cut costs, but failed in this measure due to the instability of Asaf-ud-Daula's rule and thus his reliance on British aid essentially as a puppet regime.[34]

Later rulers[edit]

Saadat Ali Khan II acceded to the throne of Oudh in 1798, owing his seat to British intervention including Governor-General of Bengal Sir John Shore's personal proclamation in Lucknow of his rule. A treaty signed on 21 February 1798 increased the subsidy paid to the British to 70 lakh rupees per year.[33]

In light of the Napoleonic Wars and British demands for greater revenue from the Company, in 1801, Saadat Ali Khan II ceded the entire Rohilkhand and Lower Doab as well as the sarkar of Gorakhpur under the pressure of Lord Wellesley to the British in lieu of the annual tribute.[35] The cession halved the size of the polity, reducing it to the original Mughal subah of Awadh (excepting Gorakhpur which was ceded) and surrounded it by directly-administered British territory, rendering it useless as a buffer. The treaty also mandated a government to be put in place that primarily served the citizens of Oudh. It was on the basis of the failure to meet this demand that the British later justified the annexation of Oudh.

Farrukhabad and Rampur was not annexed by the British yet; instead, they served as separate princely states for the moment.[33]

The kingdom became a British protectorate in May 1816 (However, the state was an unofficial British protectorate since 1764, having little external autonomy). Three years later, in 1819, the Ghazi-ud-Din Haidar Shah took the title of Badshah (king), signaling formal independence from the Mughal Empire under the advice of the Marquis of Hastings.

Throughout the early 1800s until annexation, several areas were gradually ceded to the British.

British annexation[edit]

Mutineer's Cavalry at Alam Bagh, Lucknow

On 7 February 1856, by order of Governor-General Lord Dalhousie, the Nawab of Oudh, Wajid Ali Shah, was deposed, and Oudh State was annexed to the territories of the British East India Company under the terms of the Doctrine of lapse on the grounds of alleged internal misrule.[36]

Indian Rebellion of 1857[edit]

Between 5 July 1857 and 3 March 1858, during the Indian Rebellion of 1857, Begum Hazrat Mahal, the wife of Wajid Ali Shah proclaimed their son Birjis Qadr the Wali of Awadh and ruled as regent. At the time of the rebellion, the British lost control of the territory; they reestablished their rule over the next eighteen months, during which time there were massacres such as those that had occurred in the course of the Siege of Cawnpore.[37][38]

After the rebellion, Oudh's territory was merged with the North Western Provinces, forming the larger province of North-Western Provinces and Oudh. In 1902, the latter was renamed the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh. In 1921, it became the United Provinces of British India. In 1937, it became the United Provinces and continued as a province in independent India until finally becoming the state of Uttar Pradesh in 1950.[36]


Feudatory states[edit]

The following were feudatory estates —taluqdaris[39] or parganas— of Oudh:


The first ruler of Oudh State belonged to the Shia Muslim Sayyid Family and descended of Musa al-Kadhim originated from Nishapur. But the dynasty also belonged from the paternal line to the Kara Koyunlu through Qara Yusuf. They were renowned for their secularism and broad outlook.[46]

All rulers used the title of 'Nawab'.[47]

Title Reign Start Reign End Name
Subadar Nawab 1722 19 Mar 1739 Borhan al-Molk Mir Mohammad Amin Musawi Saʾadat ʾAli Khan I
19 Mar 1739 28 Apr 1748 Abu'l Mansur Mohammad Moqim Khan
Nawab Wazir al-Mamalik 28 Apr 1748 13 May 1753
Subadar Nawab 5 Nov 1753 5 Oct 1754
5 Oct 1754 15 Feb 1762 Jalal ad-Din Shojaʾ ad-Dowla Haydar
Nawab Wazir al-Mamalik 15 Feb 1762 26 Jan 1775
26 Jan 1775 21 Sep 1797 Asaf ad-Dowla Amani
21 Sep 1797 21 Jan 1798 Mirza Wazir ʾAli Khan
21 Jan 1798 11 Jul 1814 Yamin ad-Dowla Nazem al-Molk Saʾadat ʾAli Khan II Bahadur
11 Jul 1814 19 Oct 1818 Ghazi ad-Din Rafaʾat ad-Dowla Abul-Mozaffar Haydar Khan
King (Padshah-e Awadh, Shah-e Zaman) 19 Oct 1818 19 Oct 1827
19 Oct 1827 7 Jul 1837 Naser ad-Din Haydar Solayman Jah Shah
7 Jul 1837 17 May 1842 Moʾin ad-Din Abu'l-Fath Mohammad ʾAli Shah
17 May 1842 13 Feb 1847 Naser ad-Dowla Amjad ʾAli Thorayya Jah Shah
13 Feb 1847 7 Feb 1856 Naser ad-Din ʾAbd al-Mansur Mohammad Wajed ʾAli Shah
5 Jul 1857 3 Mar 1858 Berjis Qadr (in rebellion)


Name Start End
Nathaniel Middleton 1773 1774
John Bristow 1774 1776
Nathaniel Middleton 1776 1779 (second time)
C. Purling 1779 1780
John Bristow 1780 1781 (second time)
Nathaniel Middleton 1781 1782 (third time)
John Bristow 1782 1783 (third time)
William Palmer 1783 1784
Gabriel Harper 1784 1785
Edward Otto Ives 1785 1794
George Frederick Cherry 1794 1796
James Lumsden 1796 1799
William Scott 1799 1804
John Ulrich Collins 1804 1807
John Baillie 1807 1815
Richard Charles Strachey 1815 1817
John.R. Monckton 1818 1820
Felix Vincent Raper 1820 1823
Mordaunt Ricketts 1823 1827
Thomas Herbert Maddock 1829 1831
John Low 1831 1842
James Caulfield (interí) 1839 1841
William Nott 1841 1843
George Pollock 1843 1844
J. D. Shakespear 1844 1845
T. Reid Davidson 1845 1847
Archibald Richmond 1847 1849
Sir William Henry Sleeman 1849 1854
Sir James Outram 1854 1856


In the early eighteenth century, the population of Oudh was estimated to be 3 million. Oudh underwent a demographic shift in which Lucknow and Varanasi expanded to become metropolises of over 200,000 people over the course of the 18th century at the expense of Agra and Delhi. During this period the land on the banks of the Yamuna suffered frequent dry spells, while the Baiswara did not.[48]: 38 

Although it was ruled by Muslims, a majority, roughly four fifths, of Oudh's population were Hindus.[8]: 155 [49]


The Nawabs of Oudh were descended from a Sayyid line from Nishapur in Persia. They were Shia Muslims, and promoted Shia as the state religion.[34] Ghazi-ud-Din Haidar Shah instituted the Oudh Bequest, a system of fixed payments by the British paid to the Shia holy cities of Najaf and Karbala. These payments, along with lifelong stipends to the wives and mother of Ghazi-ud-Din served as interest on the Third Oudh Loan taken in 1825.[50]

The cities of Allahabad, Varanasi, and Ayodhya were important pilgrimage sites for followers of Hinduism and other Dharmic religions. The town of Bahraich was also revered by some Muslims.[51]

See also[edit]


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  3. ^ Michael Edwardes, Battles of the Indian Mutiny, Pan, 1963, ISBN 0-330-02524-4
  4. ^ Ashutosh Joshi (1 January 2008). Town Planning Regeneration of Cities. New India Publishing. p. 237. ISBN 978-8189422820. Archived from the original on 3 March 2018. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
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  6. ^ Srivastava, Ashirbadi Lal (1933). The First Two Nawabs Of Oudh (a Critical Study Based On Original Sources). Lucknow: The Upper India Publishing House, Ltd.
  7. ^ Sarvepalli Gopal (15 October 1993). Anatomy of a Confrontation: Ayodhya and the Rise of Communal Politics in India. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 39–. ISBN 978-1-85649-050-4. Archived from the original on 9 February 2024. Retrieved 9 November 2019.
  8. ^ a b Jaswant Lal, Mehta (2005). Advanced Study in the History of Modern India: 1707-1813. Sterling Publishers. ISBN 9781932705546.
  9. ^ a b c Markovits, Claude, ed. (2005). A History of Modern India 1480–1950 (Anthem South Asian Studies). Anthem Press. ISBN 1-84331-152-6.
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  13. ^ Bowen, Zazie; Hinchy, Jessica, eds. (2020). Children and Knowledge: Contemporary and Historical Perspectives from India. Routledge South Asian History and Culture Series (reprint ed.). Routledge. ISBN 978-1000740417. Archived from the original on 9 February 2024. Retrieved 28 January 2024.
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External links[edit]

26°47′N 82°08′E / 26.78°N 82.13°E / 26.78; 82.13