The Home of Dr. Sultan Ali Sadiq in old Lucknow

Two years ago I met Dr. Sultan Ali Sadiq for the first time in Ram Advani’s book shop. Mr Advani had told me that Dr. Sadiq was an orthopaedic doctor and his friend. Also, that he lived in old Lucknow, was a direct descendant of Wajid Ali Shah and owner of a couple of original paintings from that time.
Now, two years later,Mr. Advani is no more, yet as my daughter, Geetika and I make our way through the narrow gali where Dr. Sadiq’s home is situated, I remember Mr. Advani and cannot wait to see what lies behind the unassuming frontage of the home of his friend. A bit earlier, we had waited at the gate of Lucknow Christian College, an old college established in 1862 on the grounds of Inayat bagh. Dr. Sadiq, in a grey bush shirt and trousers, his white hair brushed neatly back had arrived with his assistant to receive us and now our little entourage was making its way to his house on foot.The lane, like many others in old Lucknow, is narrow and cars cannot drive through.

The gali (narrow lane)with Dr, Sadiq's house on the right

The galli (narrow lane)with Dr. Sadiq’s house on the right


We enter the doorway and through the dark passage I see what I was hoping I would: a large open courtyard , elegant arches lining it leading to open verandahs and rooms beyond. The courtyard is full of green plants. A sense of nostalgia hits me—I am transported to the homes of my father’s friends and patients in Allahabad-the home of Choudhary Hamid and of Tej Bahadur Sapru where my parents’ friend Mr. Qudrat Ali lived for a few years. Those are all gone but here I am, in a similar home and this one happens to be very much alive !

A view of the cortyard from the entrance passage

A view of the courtyard from the entrance passage


Dr Sadiq’s sister,Sahro who is visiting from the United States, is waiting for us in the verandah, lending the house feminine warmth. The verandah to the left that we are in is full of signs of life. A collection of clocks under which are cane-backed arm chairs in a group, is obviously a place you are tempted to sit in as you pass to and fro. From this kind of vantage point no teenager or servant can sneak in or out without being noticed !

A view of the verandah to the left of the entrance, walls decorated with portraits, clocks and stag horns

A view of the verandah to the left of the entrance, walls decorated with portraits, clocks and stag horns and a cupboard full of trophies won by Dr. Sadiq for tennis

Dr Sadiq takes us to his personal picture gallery which is the first room on this verandah. Copies of oil paintings are arranged on three walls. They are all portraits of his ancestors. Some original paintings stay away from most people’s eyes in Dr. Sadiq’s office. On the left wall is a portrait of the very recognizable nawab, Wajid Ali Shah. Then that of his eldest son, Prince Hamid Ali or ‘Wali Ahad’ from his very first ‘nikahi’(formally married)wife, Khaas Mahal.Then his son, Mirza Quratul-ain-Bahadur. His son, Prince Sultan Hassan Mirza. And finally, his only child, Dr. Sadiq’s own mother, Samar Ara Begum.

Portraits of his ancestors with Wajid Ali Shah's on the middle line,extreme right and his mother's on the middle line, left

Portraits of his ancestors with Wajid Ali Shah’s on the middle line,extreme right and his mother’s on the middle line, left of the picture


This beautiful house itself was built in 1923 by Nazir Hassan Khan, the father of Dr. Sadiq’s daadi. When her son was five years old and her husband died, Dr.Sadiq’s daadi, Kaneez Fatima Begum, moved into this house that her father built with a substantial’wasiqa'(amount incurred as interest)of Rs.700.Thereafter the house came to be known as ‘700-wali kothi’. Nazirabad, the locality adjoining Aminabad in old Lucknow, and where my daughter and I make regular trips to-to buy chikan-kari or have bags repaired, was once owned by and is named after the very same Nazir Hassan ! I felt good to have established a bond with Nazirabad !

A few samples from Samar Ara Begum's 'dibiya'collection

A few samples from Samar Ara Begum’s ‘dibiya’collection


Kaneez Fatima Begum's gold-rimmed glasses with elegant clip-on shades, it's metal case and a Belgium-made pistol

Kaneez Fatima Begum’s gold-rimmed glasses with elegant clip-on shades, it’s metal case and a Belgium-made pistol


A wood box meant to hold a liquor and water bottle and a glass while travelling and a round tin box with starched cotton collars(all belonged to Dr. Sadiq's father)

A wood box meant to hold a liquor and water bottle and a glass while travelling and a round tin box with starched cotton collars(all belonged to Dr. Sadiq’s father)

‘ I remember there were guests invited frequently to this house- both by my daadi, when it was all women, and by my father, when it was men and women.There were huge amounts of entertaining done and we children used to be excited.’ Dr. Sadiq’s father was in the then Awadh-Tirhut Railways and worked with ‘gora sahibs’.So entertaining of both English and Indian guests happened both in the courtyard as well as in the drawing room.

The verandah leading to the drawing room

The verandah leading to the drawing room

An old brass samovar in the verandah

An old brass samovar in the verandah

The drawing room with chandeliers from Belgium and cupboards full of interesting collections of old bottles and glasses

The drawing room with chandeliers from Belgium and cupboards full of interesting collections of old bottles and glasses

A view of the beautiful courtyard from the drawing-room side

A view of the beautiful courtyard from the drawing-room side

Since Dr. Sadiq’s own parents were posted in different towns, their children stayed in Lucknow with their grand parents so there could be continuity in their school and college.The two brothers got a lot of freedom, Sahro says. They not only attended school and college but also played a lot of tennis at the Gymkhaana Club , won many trophies and were allowed to go out in the evenings. But, although the two sisters were allowed to go to Loreto convent and wear skirts, their daadi would not allow them to go out after school or play tennis. In fact, she disliked the idea of them showing their legs in skirts and would insist that a chaperone accompany them to school. So, their old servant, Bagreedi , with a few missing teeth, would sit in between the two sisters on their rickshaw, accompany them to school, sit and wait outside with his own water bottle and lunch and accompany them back !

Dr, Sadiq(seated), his sisters Sahro(standing left)and Nasreen(standing right)

Dr, Sadiq(seated), his sisters Sahro(standing left)and Nasreen(standing right)

Dr.Sadiq shows me three objects that his mother inherited that actually belonged to Wajid Ali Shah. Twin hookah bases in blue glass,probably from Belgium and a small, painted china vial to hold ittar. He takes them out and we hold them with amazement and the reverence they deserve!

Wajid Ali Shah's objects, blue glass hookah bases, painted with gold flowers

Wajid Ali Shah’s objects, blue glass hookah bases, painted with gold flowers

Dr. Sultan Ali Sadiq seated under his collection of clocks

Dr. Sultan Ali Sadiq seated under his collection of clocks. (This and all other photographs are by Geetika)

Dr Sadiq retired as Principal, Aligarh Medical College in the year 2000 and now takes pride in living in this beautiful old house. It is full of many elegantly displayed objects and he is knowledgeable about most. What strikes you is that everything is very clean and well maintained. When he takes out objects like his father’s liquor or collar box to show us, he first wipes the dust away with care. He and his sisters are self-effacing and their manners are impeccable.
Dr. Sadiq walks us back to our car and stands till we are out of sight.
It is in these gestures that you see refinement that comes with inheritance and legacy.

We have been seeing so much and talking so much that I have forgotten to ask to see some of the original paintings. Which is just as well ! I will take that excuse to visit Dr. Sadiq again !

Hope you enjoyed seeing this house and meeting some of its members.
Thank you, Dr. Sadiq and Sahro for your kindness and patience in sharing your beautiful home.

Thank you, readers for stopping by and reading ! Do share this post with your friends ! And please write your comments in the ‘Comments’ section.

‘Bye until the next time.

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About Adity

Hello ! You are either already a friend or will become one--through this medium! I am an artist and jewellery maker, a wife and mother to two lovely children. Beautiful homes, food, nature and wonderful things happening around me make me ecstatic. That is why I started to write this blog-- to share with you all of these things. After all what good is any experience if not shared !
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14 Responses to The Home of Dr. Sultan Ali Sadiq in old Lucknow

  1. Vaidurya Sahi says:

    The more i read your blogs, the more i am forced to think of returning home…. Again, a new gem you have revealed 🙂

    • Adity says:

      Wonder if I should say ‘thank you’ ! Vaidurya, we need more people like you in India, people who feel strongly about such issues and are proactive. Do you mind sharing these articles just so more people are aware ?

  2. Prateek Hira says:

    Wonderful peep inside Dr.Sadiq’s home. Some of the pieces are really adorable. Thanks for posting these.

    • Adity says:

      Thank you. A question ,are you from the travel co. in Lucknow ? If yes, did Radhika Advani speak to you about signing a combined letter ?

  3. Uttora Ratna says:

    Amazing storyteller…reliving the past through your pen and inner eyes. God bless

  4. arun bhattacharya says:

    Another amazing write up — I love reading all your posts.

  5. nasima says:

    Evocative photographs – quite wonderful. How marvellous to preserve this beautiful living segment of our history and the gracious and kind people who share it with us. Well done Adity and Geetika!

    • Adity says:

      Thank you,Nasima . I hope the write-up, too, passed muster ! I’d like to add that you and Mr.Aziz also belong to that genre of people that makes a place more beautiful !

  6. Adity – you have such a beautiful way of bringing the past to the present. Please do keep finding these gems and writing about them, before they disappear for ever. Thank you for sharing them with us.

    • Adity says:

      Thank you,Diwakar.. do hope more people read–just so there is more awareness. Once people start to talk it is easier to do something more concrete.

  7. Vandana Tandon says:

    Adity we love reading what you show case.Your pictures are just great and take us back in time.

    MunMun

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