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Last Updated: Monday, 16 August, 2004, 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK
India opens new Raj display
By Ram Dutt Tripathi
BBC correspondent in Lucknow

A new exhibition in the northern Indian city of Lucknow has thrown fresh light on life in British India.

Building in the historic British Residency complex
The Residency was the centre of a siege in 1857

The exhibition is in a new gallery opened by the Archaeological Survey of India in the historic British Residency complex in the city of Lucknow.

The gallery exhibits rare pieces from the British Raj found after excavations of the site.

It stands alongside an existing museum dedicated to the events of 1857 known in India as the first freedom struggle against British rule - and by the British as the Indian mutiny.

Five-month siege

The Residency is among several colonial monuments in Lucknow reflecting the city's past.

Situated on the banks of the Gomti river, it was built by a local ruler for the British chief commissioner of Avadah, as the state of Uttar Pradesh was then known.

Cannon from Raj era
Fresh material found in recent excavations is on display

In June 1857, it became the centre of a siege after British forces took refuge there after being defeated by a local uprising.

They were under siege in the Residency for five months.

As a result of shelling in that incident, the building gradually crumbled and some portions had to be completely razed to the ground.

The Indian government opened a memorial museum in the main building of the Residency to give a visual account of what is now known as India's first freedom struggle.


Now fresh material - found in digging carried out in the residency complex in the last two years - is on display in the new gallery.

Building in the historic British Residency complex
There are several colonial monuments in Lucknow reflecting its past
These include pistols, cannon balls, bayonets and swords in a reminder of the fighting during the five-month-long siege.

Old coins, stamps and several others finds are displayed in the gallery.

A senior archaeologist who is in charge of the museum, RS Fonia, says the terracotta figures of European men, women and animals are rare pieces of archaeology which were found for the first time in India.

A terracotta figurine with European features and elaborate head gear, imported porcelain pottery depicting floral designs and scenes of maritime travel is illustrative of the European style and environment.

Fragments of imported wine bottles, champagne bottles, silver plated items and other things speak about the luxurious life enjoyed by British officers - even during the period of siege.

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