Calling NRIs to relive the Nawabi era in Lucknow

Yeh Lucknow ki sarzameen, Yeh Lucknow ki sarzameen,
Yeh rang roop ka chaman, Yeh husn-o-ishq ka watan,
Yehi who muqam hai, jahan Awadh ki sham hai, jawan jawan haseen haseen,
Yeh Lucknow ki sarzameen, Yeh Lucknow ki sarzameen
,

(This is the land of Lucknow, this is the land of Lucknow
It is a garden of beauty, a country of love and gorgeousness
It is a place famous for Awadh’s evening, very serene and very beautiful
This is the land of Lucknow, this is the land of Lucknow)

Yeh shahar lalazar hai, yahan dilon mein pyar hai,
Jidhar nazar uthaiye, bahar hi bahar hai,
Kali Kali Nazneen,
Yeh Lucknow ki sarzameen, Yeh Lucknow ki sarzameen,

(This city is full of splendour and greenery, hearts filled with love
Wherever you espy, there are flowers in full bloom,
Beauty and delicacy is reflected in each bud of this garden,
This is the land of Lucknow, this is the land of Lucknow)

These lines of lyricist Shakeel Badayuni epitomised the essence of Nawabi splendour of Lucknow beautifully depicted in the film ‘Chaudvin ka Chand’ crafted by legendary Guru Dutt.

Bada Imambara standing majestically amidst the serene surroundings of Lucknow. Photo courtesy : uptourism.gov.in

All the advancements can’t take away the magnificence of the Nawabi era still visible in capital city of Uttar Pradesh - Lucknow. The great architectural buildings of Bada Imambara, Chota Imambara, exquisite and spacious havelis, meandering lanes and bylanes of Chowk, aromatic fragrance coming out from mouth watering dishes and the delicacy of Urdu language are the hallmarks of this city. This treat to the senses is unique to Lucknow. Can turn people in fans and make ex-Lucknowites nostalgic. A date with city to relive the Nawabi era  in the modern times is highly recommended.

Nawabi Era of Lucknow

The Nawabs were  the governors appointed by the Mughals for Lucknow. Though the Mughals wilted at Delhi, the Nawabs declared their independence and became the rulers of the city. It was only during this era that the city flourished in culture and traditions, economically and politically. The monuments of the city are testimony to the fact that whatever royalty is left in the city it belongs to the Nawabs. The impression of Nawabs is engraved deep inside the heart of the city.

The tall gateway Rumi Darwaza has become synonymous with the identity of Lucknow. Photo courtesy : uptourism.gov.in

The musicians and dancers from the other parts of the country are said to have flocked in the city to get the Nawabi patronage. It was the time when the music and dance revived in the state and found its strong base in the city. At this time art forms like Kathak, khayal, thumri, natak, qawwali and dadra reached their zenith. There were frequent cultural and musical gatherings in these affluent classes of Nawabs known as (Mushyra Mafils) - the cultural evenings that use to spread over the night, smoking the traditional Hookahs - a part of the Nawabs life.

Let us take you some grand and unique monuments of the city which are testimony to the grandeur of the Nawabi era.

Bada Imambara
Bada Imambara is the best example of the architecture of the Nawab period. Built in the year 1784 by the fourth Nawab of Awadh, Asaf-ud-Daula, it was in fact constructed as a part of a relief project for a major famine that took place in the year 1784.  It contains world’s largest hall without any physical support (beams or pillar), courtyards, holy mosque, embellished entrance, and a mystery/confusing place ‘Bhul Bhullaiya‘ which is a must see tourist attraction.

Chota Imambara

Chota Imambara is one of the beautiful buildings of Lucknow. Photo courtesy : uptourism.gov.in

Chota Imambara, recognized as the palace of lights, was built by Muhammad Ali Shah in 1838. The handmade beauty over the marble and stone, superb gold-plated, striking interiors with gold edge mirrors and silver throne makes it more beautiful than a well decorated worth to visit palace, even more gorgeous than Bara Imambara. This majestic monument is blended with numerous minarets and turrets surrounded by the well decorated garden.

Moti Mahal
Moti Mahal is one of the most beautiful monuments of the city. The Nawab of Lucknow, Saadat Ali Khan, constructed it. It is located on the borders of river Gomti and provides a spectacular view of the city. Also known as Palace of Pearls, the Nawabs used this palace to view birds in flight and spend time in leisure.

Rumi Darwaza
Located adjacent to Bara Imambara, Rumi Darwaza built by Nawab Asaf-Ud-dowlah in 1784 reveals the engineering of Awadh style architecture. It is a beautiful sixty feet tall gate giving a peep into the rich architectural spendour.

British Residency
The British Residency of Lucknow is a famous historical landmark of this place. It is now in ruins and has been declared a protected monument by the Archaeological Survey of India. The British Residency was the place that served as a refuge for approximately 3000 British inhabitants during the time of the uprising of 1857. Lucknow was center of all British activities during the siege and the Residency became the monopolistic center of the British for almost 90 days.

Lucknow cuisine
Another characteristic feature of Lucknow is its rich cuisine famous as Awadhi food. The bawarchis ( chefs) of Lucknow invented the dum style of cooking or the art of cooking over a slow fire. Famous items of Lucknow cuisine are kebab, kormas,biryanis, kaliya, nahari-Kulchas,zarda, sheermal, roomai rooti. Connoisseurs of food should enjoy the Tunde kebabs in Chowk which is a 100 year old restaurant. The tunde kabab claims to be unique because of the zealously guarded family secret recipe for the masala (homemade spices), prepared by women in the family. It is said to incorporate 160 spices.

Author
Ashraf Jamal
Ashraf Jamal – Senior Writer

Ashraf Jamal brings a rare depth to writing equipped with a degree in journalism, a postgraduate degree in political science, and a degree in law from the Allahabad University. His experience includes editing and publishing the Northern India Patrika and writing for Times of India for almost a decade covering just about any topic under the sun including NRIs and Indian diaspora.

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