The name of Lucknow city can be traced back to the epic ‘Ramayana’. When Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya, after 14 years of exile he gifted this place to his younger brother Lakshman, who is believed to have stayed in Lakshman Teela, a high ground on the banks of the river Gomti. Later, the region was named after his as ‘Lakshmanpur’. There are other stories that do the rounds; Lucknow was named after a very influential person called ‘Lakhan Ahir’ who built the fort ‘Qila Lakhan’. The name ‘Qila Lakhan’ later became Lucknow. Some other sources says that one Lakhu Khan, earlier a non-Muslim having the name Laxan Singh, had lent his name to Lucknow.
The city has archaeological remains dating back to 3000 BC but Lucknow’s foundations were laid in the 13th century A.D. Lakshman Teela, the central part of the city, is believed to have been the site where a fort was built by a clan from Bijnor. By the end of the 13th century, the fort had fallen into the hands of the Sharqi rulers of Jaunpur, who held it till 1476. In the 1540s, the fort was annexed by the Sultan of Delhi, Sher Shah Suri (reigned 1540-45).
The architectural contributions of the Awadh rulers include numerous mosques and palaces (many paintings of these are now maintained at the Art Gallery). Of the monuments standing today, the ‘Bara Imambara’, the ‘Chhota Imambara’ and the Roomi Darwaza’ are notable examples.
Awadh was annexed by the proclamation of 14 February 1856 and the king (Nawab Wajid Ali Shah) was deported to Calcutta, where he died on 21 September 1887. In the old settlement records of 1862, a mention is made that 2/3rd of Bhadruka village was part of the cantonment area. From the gazette vol XXXVII of 1922 (the district Gazetteers of the United Provines of Agra and Awadh), it is gathered that the ruinous building in Dilkusha Garden was known as Dilkusha Palace, which was built by Sadat Ali Khan as a hunting box and country residence, around which he laid out an extensive park and stocked it with deer and other games. After the first war of independence, the building was occupied by the General Officer Commanding Awadh District. To the south of the ruins, are few graves of officers and men who fell during the capture of Lucknow. It was at this place, Sir Henry Havelock died on 24 November 1857. In the gazetteer referred to above, it is also stated that Lucknow Cantonment was the Headquarters of Awadh Military District.
Historically, cantonments were places where the army of colonial government had to be exclusively quartered in an effort to keep the armed forces totally insulated from the ruled. Cantonments meant quarters assigned for lodging troops, a permanent military station created by the British government in India for the location of military formation away from the civilian towns and insulated from the Indian nationalist influences. Housing was the core objective. Subsequently, housing itself attracted the civil population to reside in the cantonments and the economic spin-offs attracted other activities. The bazaar area was recognized and the anatomy of the cantonment got clearly defined with military, the bungalow and civil areas clearly defined. The cantonments as local self-government organizations have always remained a puzzle. The civilian population wants to be in it but is uncertain about their status and their future.
Due to repeated demand for reforms by the representatives of cantonment population, the Cantonments Act, 1924 was enacted to introduce local self-government in the cantonments, which contained substantial civil population. The Act was the first model municipal Act for cantonments, but in its implementation, decentralization and democratic norms were largely compromised because of the status of the citizen who occupied the property only as a licensee of the Government.
In 2006 the Cantonments Act, 1924 was replaced by the Cantonment Act, 2006 with a view to impart greater democratization and improvethe financial base of cantonments to make provision for developmental activities, etc. Presently there are 62 Cantonments in the country distributed among five Army Commands. The cantonments are categorized as Category I, Category II, Category III and Category IV on the basis of the civil population. As per the latest Census, Lucknow cantonment area falls under Category I, with a population above 50,000.