James Rennell’s magnificent wall map of Oudh, representing the first accurate and detailed survey of what is now Uttar Pradesh and adjacent areas, prepared for the British East India Company shortly after it asserted its political dominance over the region.
This magnificent work is the sequel to Rennell’s map of Bengal & Bihar, in that it follows the progress of British power up the Ganges Basin. The map is dominated by the depiction of Oudh (also known as Awadh), which is shown to be divided into its traditional subhas. Oudh, which spread along the Gangetic Plain, was long considered to be the ‘Breadbasket of India’.
On the left-hand side of the map, along the ‘Jumnah River’ (Yamuna River), is the nucleus of the, albeit vastly diminished, Mughal Empire. Delhi, which was dominated by the walled city founded in 1649, served as the Mughal capital from its establishment to 1857. Further to the south is ‘Agrah’ (Agra), home of the Taj Mahal. Founded in 1504 by Sikander Lodi, the ruler of the Delhi Sultanate, it served as the Mughal capital from 1526 to 1649. To the northeast, the Himalayan region, described as ‘A Chain of Mountains sometimes covered with Snow’, remained a Terra Incognita to Europeans.
Like Rennell’s map of Bengal & Bihar, his map of Oudh was created to mark the EIC’s domination over the region. Following the British victory over the Nawab of Oudh and his allies at the Battle of Buxar (1764), Oudh became an EIC puppet state. Pursuant to the Treaty of Allahabad (1765), the Nawab was compelled to cede much territory and over the coming decades, in stages, the British essentially annexed Oudh.