Awadh was a Princely State during the British rule in India. The Political unity of Awadh can be traced back to the ancient kingdom of Kosala with Ayodhya as its capital. The region is located in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh and it is ruled by different dynasties like Delhi Sultanate, Mughal Empire, East India Company, and the British. Nawab of Awadh is the title of the ruler who has governed the state of Awadh during the 18th and 19th Centuries. The history of Awadh depicts that in 1720, Muhammad Amin who was popularly known as Saadat Khan the Wazir of the Mughal Empire was made the Subhedar of Awadh. His dominion expanded from the divisions of Lucknow and Faizabad and the district of Ghazipur, Banaras, and Gorakhpur. In the later period, Awadh declared its Independence towards the decline of the Mughal Empire. A mint was opened at Banaras in 1737 under the name of Muhammadabad Banaras. The mint produced coins in the name of Mughal emperors under the authority of the Nawab of Awadh. It was only in 1819 that Nawab Ghaziuddin Haidar finally started to strike coins in his own name. Soon thereafter, Awadhi coins started to feature the kingdom’s European style coat of arms. The coinage of Awadh Princely State also saw drastic and dramatic changes. So, let’s discuss and explore the history of the Coinage of Awadh Princely State.
Shuja-ud-Daula was a Nawab of Awadh from 1754 to 1775 AD. Though a minor royal, he is best known for his key roles in two definitive battles in Indian history the Third Battle of Panipat and the Battle of Buxar.
Above shown silver Rupee was issued in the reign of Shujaa-ud-Daula in the name of Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II. It was struck at Balwant Nagar (Jhansi) and depicts the Persian legend ‘Saya Fazl Ilah Hami Deen Zad Bar Haft Kishwara Muhammad Shah Alam’ on its obverse face. The reverse showed the legend ‘Sanah 3 Zarb Balwant Nagar Julus Mainamat Manus’.
Jhansi was occupied by Awadh for four years after the battle of Panipat. The coins struck under Awadh control are markedly different than the Maratha issues and also include extra inscription ‘Roshan Akhtar’ on the reverse, of which very little is seen on this coin.
The accession of Asaf-ud-Daula, the fourth Nawab Wazir of Awadh, brought a great change in Awadh politics. Under the rule of Asaf-ud- Daula, the court of Lucknow became utterly magnificent and the town of Lucknow acquired great splendor. The capital was finally shifted from Faizabad to Lucknow in 1755 which contributed to its significant growth.
The most important outcome of Asaf-ud-Daula’s consolidation of the court at Lucknow, was the emergence of a powerful Shia culture, in constant interaction with the Shia heartlands of Iran & Iraq. The increasing number of Shia emigrants from Iranian cities veritably transformed Lucknow into a great intellectual center.
An extremely rare silver rupee was issued by Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula from Anupnagar Shahabad mint in AH 1189. The obverse has a Persian legend ‘Sikka Zad Bar Haft Kishwara (Saya) Fazl Ilah Hami Deen Muhammad Shah Alam Badshah’ with AH 1189. The reverse of the coin is inscribed with the legend ‘Zarb Anupnagar Shahabad Sanah 17 Julus Mainamat Manus’ and Trishul mint mark.
Anupnagar Shahabad is perhaps the rarest mint of Awadh, known from not more than 3-4 specimens, including one in the British Museum from the RB whitehead collection. The location of this Shahabad is not certain, but it is most likely Shahabad near Qanauj. The ‘Anup Nagar’ indicates that the issue of the coins was probably linked with the powerful courtier Anup Gir Gossain, aka Himmat Bahadur, who served as an important mercenary commander in the army of the Nawab of Awadh. The mint mark of the Trishul corroborates this connection.
Nawab Saadat Ali Khan II
Nawab Saadat Ali Khan II was the second son of Nawab ‘Sauja-ud-Daula. He sat on the throne of Awadh in the year 1798 CE, after succeeding his half-nephew Mirza Wazir Ali Khan.
Saadat Ali Khan II had constructed much building; most of the buildings between the Kaiser bagh and Dilkusha were constructed by him. He also had a palace called Dilkusha Kothi which was designed and built by Sir Gore Ouseley in 1805.
This gold Mohur issued by Nawab of Awadh ‘Saadat Ali Khan II’ during the Hijri year 1227 in the name Shah Alam II.
Ghazi-ud-Din Haider was the ruler of Princely State Awadh, he ruled Awadh from 1819 CE till 1827 CE. During his reign, Awadh was declared as an independent kingdom and he was conferred with the title of King by the East India Company. Ghazi-ud-Din Haider was the third son of Nawab Saadat Ali Khan and Mushir Zadi. He sat on the throne of Awadh after the death of his father in the year 1818 CE. He declared himself as independent in the year 1818 CE under the British Governor Warren Hastings.
After sitting on the throne of Awadh he issued coins in gold, silver, and copper in various denominations such as Mohur, Ashrafi, and Rupee from Muhammadabad Banaras and Lucknow mint.
The obverse of the coins usually have Persian legend ‘az fazl rab dhul muneen Ghazi-Ud-din Haider Aali nasb shah zaman zad bar seem wa zar’ with full jeem and AH and the reverse of the coin depicts Crown flanked by rampant lions holding a flag, two fish below facing upright, Regnal year, Dar-Ul-Sultanate Lucknow, Julus Mainamat Manus above, Zarb suba-e- Awadh below.
Nasir ud din Haidar was the second king of Awadh. He was coroneted in 1827 after the death of his father Ghazi ud Din Haidar.
Nasir ud Din Haidar lived up to the title of Nawab and enjoyed the luxury of the royal house. He had a strong belief in Astrology and Astronomy, which led him to set up an observatory at Lucknow ‘Tara Wali Kothi’ or ‘Star house’ which is decorated with exceptionally good astronomical instruments.
During the reign of Nassir-ud-Din Haidar, the Awadh government started declining. The administration of the kingdom was left in the hands of Wazir Hakim Mahdi and later in the hands of Raushan-ud-Daula. However, the fight between these three came to an end in the year 1837 with Nasir ud din Haidar being poisoned by one of the members of the court.
Nasir ud din Haidar died without having any offspring. The queen’s mother, Padshah Begum, put Munna Jan on the throne, but he was not acknowledged as a member of the royal family. The British arrest both Padshah Begum and Munna Jan and arranged the accession of late Nawab Saadat Ali Khan’s son, Nasir ud Daula under the title ‘Muhammad Ali Shah’ who promised to pay to the British Government a large sum of money.
His silver rupee inscribed with the name and title of the king which read as “Sikka Zad Bar Seem Az Fazl Haq Zil Ilah Mehdi Nasiruddin Haider Badshah”. The reverse of this coin depicts ‘Crown’ flanked by rampant lions holding a flag, two upright fish below.
Muhammad Ali Shah
Muhammad Ali Shah was the third Nawab of Awadh from 1837 to 1842. He built the shrine of Hurr at Karbala.
This gold Ashrafi was issued by Muhammad Ali Shah. The obverse of a coin is inscribed with ‘Ba Jud-o-Karam Sikka Zad Dar Jahan Muhammad Ali Badshah Zaman’ with Hijri Year 1253. The reverse of a coin is inscribed with the ‘Coat of Arms’ encircled by the legend ‘Zarb Subah Awadh Dar us-Sultanat Lakhnau Julus Mainamat Manus’ with Regnal year Ahad (1).
Amjad Ali Shah
Nawab Amjad Ali Shah succeeding his father Muhammad Ali Shah, to become the province’s fourth Nawab in 1842. He was born in Lucknow on 30th January 1801. During his illustrious reign, he issued a remarkable variety of gold, silver, and copper coins from Lucknow and Muhammadabad Banaras mints. These coins were found in the denomination of Ashraf, Rupee, Falus, and their different fractions.
Muhammad Ali Shah had taken many efforts to ensure that the heir apparent received an excellent education and had therefore entrusted him to the company of religious scholars, but instead of making him an intelligent ruler, he made him a devout Muslim. Thus, he became the most religious ruler of Awadh.
He built a new bridge over Gomti and a metalled road from Lucknow to Kanpur. He also established the Hazratganj and Aminabad Bazar, major shopping markets in Lucknow.
He died in 1848 and was buried at the Imambara Sibtainabad in the western part of Hazratganj, a quarter which he had himself established.
Represented here is gold Ashrafi weighs around 10.73g, issued by Amjad Ali Shah in 1258 AH. The obverse of the coin is inscribed with Persian legend “Dar Jahan zad sikkah shahi betaid ilah zil haq Amjad Ali Shah Zaman Alam Panah” (Amjad Ali king of the universe, a refuge of the world, the shade of God, struck royal coin in the world) while the reverse of the coin depicts a crown with parasol above it and fish below, flanked by curved swords and the legend “Sanah Ahad Zarb Mulk Awadh Bait-Al-Sultanate Lucknow Julus Mainamat Manus”.
Nawab Wajid Ali Shah
Nawab Wajid Ali Shah was the last Nawab of Awadh, holding the position for 9 years from 1847 to 1856 AD. He issued coins in gold, silver, and copper from Lucknow and Muhammadabad Banaras mint. These coins are found in various denominations viz. Rupee, Ashrafi, and Falus in various fractions.
His gold Ashrafi depicts the portion of Persian legend ‘Sikka zad bar sim wa zar az fazl tayeed Ilah, Zile haq Wajid Ali Sultan Alam Badshah’ with AH date on its obverse face. The reverse of the coin depicts the coat of arm: a crown with parasol above it, flanked by mermaids holding a flag, crossed swords below and legend ‘Julus Mainamat Manus Zarb Dar-Us-Sultanate Lucknow Mulk awadh sanah’ inscribed around the circle.
The last Padshah-e-Awadh, Brijis Qadr ruled the Awadh Princely state for a very short period. He was a son of Wajid Ali Shah.
When Brijis Qadr was proclaimed the Nawab by revolutionaries in Lakhnau, the Coins were struck in the name of Shah Alam II with mint-name ‘Subah Awadh’. His gold, silver, and copper coins were found in round and square shapes in the denomination of Ashrafi, Rupee, and Falus.
One of his gold Ashrafi was sold by the Classical Numismatic Gallery for INR 71,000. The obverse showed the Persian legend ‘Sikka Zad Bar Haft Kishwara Ilah Hami Din Muhammad Shah Alam Badshah’. The reverse of coin bore the mint name, RY, and Julus formula which read as ‘Zarb Suba Awadh Sanah 26 Julus Mainamat Manus’.
In 1856 British annexed Awadh and it was in the fertile soil of Awadh that the Great revolt of 1857 took place. Awadh along with Agra came under the same administration in 1877 and later on, in 1902 it became a part of the United Province. This blog covers some of the beautiful aspects of the Coinage of Awadh Princely State. Visit our Coin section for more detailed information. The Coinage of Awadh Princely State remained as some of the most brilliant examples of Indian coinage. Coin collectors from all over the world are fond of collecting some of these rare gems!