Tuesday, December 30, 2008


ye lakhnau ki sar-zameen
ye rang-roop ka chaman
ye husn-o-ishq ka vatan
yahi to vo muqaam hai
jahaan avadh ki shaam hai
javaan-javaan haseen-haseen
ye lakhnau ki sar-zameen
(Shakeel Badayunee)

My first glimpse of Lucknow was in perhaps 1986. Then in 1988 my father transferred to Lucknow and so my family came there.

Parivartan Sthal
My first impression about Lucknow was a very peacefull and clean place. Just like the place that I wanted. Though now that peacefullness and cleanliness is going away but still this city has some charm in which attracts all.

I met a Punjab National bank employee, who is native of Kerala. Earlier he was posted at Lucknow, but recently transferred to Bangalore. He told me that because of his parents etc. he is shifting to Bangalore otherwsie he never wanted to leave Lucknow.

Some shaayar has rightly said:

Hum fida lucknow par
lucknow fida-e-hum

Shaheed Smarak
The ancient history of Lucknow is believed to begin after the Lord Rama ordered his younger brother Lakshmana to establish a town at the present site of Lakshman Tila. Lucknow was named Lakshmanpuri or Lakhanpuri or Laknamau after him. Slowly the name Lakhanpuri became 'Lakhnau' and then named 'Lucknow' by the British.

During medievel times, Lucknow and parts of Awadh region have been under the rule of the Delhi Sultanate, the Mughal Empire, the Nawabs of Awadh, the East India Company and the British Raj. Lucknow has been one of the major centers of First War of Independence, participated actively in India's Independence movement, and after Independence has emerged as an important city of North India.

Awadh was known as the granary of India and was important strategically for the control of the Doab, the fertile plain between the Ganga and the Yamuna rivers.

Charbagh, once a summer palace, now Lucknow Junction Railway Station
Lucknow's rise to growth and fame begins with its elevation as capital of Awadh by Nawab Asaf-Ud-Dowlah. He was a great philanthropist and gave Lucknow a unique and enduring legacy. The architectural contributions of Awadh rulers include several imposing monuments. Of the monuments standing today, the Bara Imambara, the Chhota Imambara, and the Roomi Darwaza are notable examples. One of the more lasting contributions by the Nawabs is the syncretic composite culture that has come to be known as the Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb.

Lucknow during this period was one of the most luxurious place in India, much ahead of Bhopal, Hyderabad and even Delhi. It was quite peaceful place and its rulers and subjects had created that environment here that it became famous the world over.

But this all has a negative aspect as well. As written by Munshi Premchand in one of his stories;
"....all the wealth from villages are being dragged to Lucknow and where it is being ruined on dance, wine and Chess...."

In 1856 the East India Company first moved its troops to the border, then annexed the state, which was placed under a chief commissioner - Sir Henry Lawrence. Wajid Ali Shah, the then Nawab, was imprisoned, and then exiled by the Company to Calcutta. In the subsequent Revolt of 1857 his 14-year old son Birjis Qadr, son of Begum Hazrat Mahal was crowned ruler, and Sir Henry Lawrence killed in the hostilities. Following the rebellion's defeat, Begum Hazrat Mahal and other rebel leaders fled to Nepal and got asylum there.
British Resident's Office
In the first war of Indian Independence of 1857, the British garrison based at the Residency in Lucknow was besieged by rebel Indian forces. The famous Siege of Lucknow was relieved first by forces under the command of Henry Havelock and James Outram, followed by a stronger force under Colin Campbell.
Ruins of Residency Building

Gun, which provided defense to British in 1857
 Today, the ruins of the Residency, and the picturesque Shaheed Smarak offer reminiscences of Lucknow's role in the stirring events of 1857.

British trails of Victory from 1799 Srirangapattanam to 1857 Lucknow
In 1901, after staying the capital of Oudh, since 1775, Lucknow was merged in the newly formed United Provinces of Agra and Awadh (Oudh). However, it became the provincial capital in 1920 when the seat of government was moved from Allahabad. Upon Indian independence in 1947, Lucknow became the capital of Uttar Pradesh, the erstwhile United Provinces.

Plaque erected by British bto honor Indian soldiers who defended Residency in 1857
I studied my 12th standard in Lucknow, did my preparation for engineering entrance here. Though I left Lucknow for higher education and for job, but still my heart is always there...just like I am an integral part of it....

...ye shahar laaladaar hai
yahaan dilon mein pyaar hai
jidhar nazar uthaaiye
bahaar hi bahaar hai
kali-kali hai naazaneen...
(Shakeel Badayunee)

The Asafi Imambara (popularly known as Bara Imambara), the Chhota Imambara, Residency, and Shah Najaf are monuments of architectural importance at Lucknow. The famous 'Bhul Bhulaiyan' (Labyrinth) is part of Asafi Imambara complex. Some other places of interest are the Picture Gallery, Chattar Manzil, State Museum / Lucknow Zoo, Shaheed Smarak, Dilkusha, Ambedkar Memorial, Planetarium, Baradari and Ram Krishna Math.

The British-built architectural sights in Lucknow include the Vidhan Sabha (State Legislative Assembly) and the Clock Tower

The Railway Station of Lucknow, the Charbagh is famous with its distinctive domes, arches and pillars. Earlier it is said to be a summer palace surrounded by gardens in all four directions. Hence the name "CharBagh".

Personally I like Residency very much. As a student I used to visit that place quite often. It is situated on Banks of Gomti and was seat of British resident, once upon a time. It saw heavy war and seige during 1857. The quite atmosphere inside takes me to some unknown state of mind...I hear the gun shots and the battle cry.

Picture Gallery is also quite good.

Bhul Bhulaiya is a marvel of engineering and it is very hard for anybody to come out of it on its own.

Some of the oldest schools in India are also situated in Lucknow, like La Martiniere, Loreto Convent and the Colvin Taluqdar's College.

...shabaab-o-sher ka ye ghar
ye ahl-e-ilm ka nagar...
(Shakeel Badayunee)

Now Lucknow has one state University, one Central University, one medical college, one PG medical college and many engineering institutes, besides colleges on sciences and arts. World famous school for art “Bhatkhande” is situated here.
Bullet ridden walls of Residency
 Lucknow is bravely struggling to retain its old world charm while at the same time acquiring a modern lifestyle. Regarded as one of the top ten finest cities of India, Lucknow represents a culture that combines emotional warmth, a high degree of sophistication, courtesy, and a love for gracious living. The Pehle-Aap (after you) culture, popularised as a tagline for the society of Lucknow, is waning. But a small part of Lucknow's society still possesses such etiquette. This sublime cultural richness famous as Lakhnawi tehzeeb blends the cultures of two communities living side by side for centuries, sharing similar interests and speaking a common language.

Sa'adat Khan ka Maqbara
Many of the cultural traits and customs peculiar to Lucknow have become living legends today. The credit for this goes to the secular and syncretic traditions of the Nawabs of Awadh, who took a keen interest in every walk of life, and encouraged the traditions to attain a rare degree of s When it comes to dining, Lucknow is a culinary delight as the Awadh region has its own distinct Nawabi style cuisine, with various kinds of biryanis, kebabs and breads like 'sheermal' / 'roomali roti' all very popular delicacies.

Lucknow has also pioneered the slow-fire cooking called Dum Pukht.

To feel Lucknow, you have to be at Lucknow for some time.

But sometimes I feel sorry for Lucknow, in the fast influence of western culture, Lucknow is loosing its charm. Modernization is necessary but there should be a way through which the old cultural threads can be kept alive.

Lucknow is a major city and connected with rest of India through air, road and rail routes.

1 comment:

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