Lucknow

The Siege of Lucknow was one of the most terrible incidents of the uprising in 1857. It was prolonged for 87 days before it  was finally relieved. In its remembrance the English poet Lord Alfred Tennyson penned ‘The Defence Of Lucknow’. It is a fairly lengthy poem, its first few lines are quite striking.  

BANNER of England, not for a season, O banner of Britain,

hast thou floated in conquering battle or flapt to the battle-cry!

Never with mightier glory than when we had rear’d thee on high

Flying at top of the roofs in the ghastly siege of Lucknow—

Shot thro’ the staff or the halyard, but ever we raised thee anew,

And ever upon the topmost roof our banner of England blew.

The British banner did fly and flutter and saturated Lucknow skyline for next nine decades but it did  collaterally sweep, snuff and ravage its unique ‘Tehzeeb’ (refinement). 

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For Lucknow had always been as Shakeel Badayuni says,

ye Lucknow ki sarzameen,   ye rang-roop kaa chaman

ye husn-o-ishq kaa watan,   yahi to wo muqaam hai

jahaan Awadh ki shaam hai,  jawaan-jawaan haseen-haseen

ye Lucknow ki sarzameen

ye shahar laaladaar hai,  yahaan dilon mein pyaar hai

jidhar nazar uthaaiye,    bahaar hi bahaar hai

ye Lucknow ki sarzameen

yahaan ki sab rawaayaten,   adab ki shaahkaar hain

ameer ahl-e-dil yahaan,    ghareeb jaan-nisaar hain

har ek shaakh par yahaan,   hain bulbulon ke chahchahen

gali-gali mein zindagi,   kadam-kadam pe kahkahen, har ik nazaaraa hai dilnasheen

ye Lucknow ki sarzameen

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There were also many  more dismal and disconsolate voices of the same era which were traumatized not only in Lucknow but also in Delhi.

Kharaaba Dilli ka vo chand behtar Lucknow se tha, Vahin mai kaash mar jaata, sara seema na aata yahaan

Mir Taqi Mir

(Delhi in all it’s ruined destruction was better than Lucknow. It would’ve been better to have breathed my last there).

dillī chhodī thī pahle ab lucknow bhī chhoḌeñ

do shahar the ye apne donoñ hi tabāh nikle

Hadi Ruswa

(Left Delhi earlier now will leave Lucknow,Two towns were mine both proved wretched)

kiyā tabāh to dillī ne bhī bahut ‘bismil’

magar ḳhudā kī qasam lucknow ne loot liyā

Bismil Saed

(Delhi did immensely ruin me (Bismil), But swear by God Lucknow has plundered.)

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The Britisher’s may have warped and doused our minds and subjugated us, but now after over six decades after they have left, where are we and what have we done, not only to ourselves but to the very heritage, legacy, norms, standards, principles and so on?

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I remember the Lucknow of nineteen eighties, leaving aside tehzeeb etc, I found it then with clean surroundings, fresh unpolluted air, orderly traffic and decent and polite gentry. I purchased a house here contemplating  enjoying my retirement in the city with rich culture and elegance. However, my recent visit to Lucknow has saddened me and  also caused distress and agony.

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There is filth and trash strewn all over even in places like Hazratganj, the traffic is paralyzed with ineffective guidance, the air is so polluted that after a week my coughing increased with heavy breathing and the reports of the crimes in the media, which I am told is now part of accepted routine.

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Where is it leading us to? We do have systems such as municipalities, town planners, policemen and so on. However, the common denominator is that the systems are run by humans and they are all very busy with themselves ignoring the rest. What message are we giving to our younger generations? Is this our heritage? Do we tell them that we are satisfactorily leading a happy life which suits our culture and our society?

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Seriously, is there any way out? Can we not improve to change for the better?

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Me? When In India. I have decided to spend my retirement in a more organised and healthy town which also happens to be in this country. Yes we do have oasis in and around us!

Acknowledgement

I am extremely thankful to Jafar Shameem (Arshi) for permitting me to use the beautiful pictures that he captured during his recent visit to Lucknow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

 

 

 

 

20 thoughts on “Lucknow”

  1. Dil ko chhoo gayee aap ki baat, dost.
    My first visit to and view of Lucknow was as a young 11 year old NCC cadet from DehraDun in1954. We had a camp in a huge ground somewhere in the city and on a day off we visited
    Hazaratganj. The memory of the clean and broad shopping promenade stays in the mind.
    So reading your piece brought back the fragrance of those lovely days of romance and simple happiness associated with culture and consideration.
    Bless you !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That was when
      “Lucknow ka aalam-e-khaas dekhiye,
      Urdu mein Geeta ka paath dekhiye”
      Munawar
      (Behold the sublime style of Lucknow, Listen to The Gita recited in Urdu)

      but now
      jahan caman men nasheman the bulbulon ke Zafar
      hazar hazf ki wan ashiyan-e zagh bane
      Zafar
      (The place where Bulbuls nested in the garden
      Alas what a pity! The crows now dwell there)

      Huzoor! Gustakhi muaf

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  2. For management we need to rediscover the value of systems and value of accountability of each and everyone in the chain.The British gave us systems that ran railways, canals, forests and even the complex organisation of the Army ensuring that a wooden plug was available and reached the man requiring replacement of the missing hobnail of his boot in war.In emphasising and glorifying”person”we seemed to have lost out on the systems approach.

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  3. Pretty distressed at reading your description of Lucknow. My last visit was in 2011 for our course reunion, when it didn’t seem so bad. Probably it was spent more in the cantt with only one outing to Tunday Kabab in the city. Enjoyed the couplets (shairs) you wrote. I had hoped that the BJP Govt would bring about a change BUT????

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    1. The famous culinary delights can still be relished in the old places, however, reaching these locations is a painful experience. The Cannt remains an oasis amidst the chaos and confusion everywhere.

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  4. Beautiful pictures and a very interesting piece of writing. I completely agree with you that in the name of ‘development’ we have created a concrete jungle. Call me old school but I loved those imperfect roads with trees on both sides, narrow lanes and those loving glances from people who could easily ‘pause’ to talk to others. My hometown Vadodara was named after banyan trees and today they are hardly present in the city. Pollution and cleanliness is a whole new chapter.

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    1. The charm of quaint and rustic towns is no more in the urbanisation with high rise buildings and wide asphaltic roads. Even in residential are areas cluttered with shops and stores. Gone are the days of pretty gardens having those seasonal flowers of different hues and colors! Commercialism has swept everything down!

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  5. क्या पुरानी यादें ताजा की है?
    Had two tenures in Lucknow in seventies, besides frequent visits from Allahabad during university days in early sixties. The pleasure of गंजिंग alongside whiffs of perfume from the passing beauties and dime a dozen नब्बाबs in their Kurta (बाहों पर इमली की गुठली की छुन्नट वाला)/ payjamas, गज़रा around wrist, is still fresh in mind. Chowdhury sweet house was a favourite haunt but affordable just about once a month.
    हुज़ूर and आप was the standard addressing system, even while calling names. Rich students could afford a cycle, otherwise रिक्शा was the common means of transport, farthest distance being covered within 6 ana.
    क्या दिन थे, क्या लोग थे, क्या शहर था
    वाह रे लखनऊ की….

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You have described the ruination, in other words the ‘Tabahi’ of Lucknow very aptly and briefly along with a few photographs which shows the deteriorating condition of this once famous city renowned for its culture and ‘Tahzeeb’ ! I happened to visit Lucknow a few years back and was very highly disappointed to see the place. Hazrat Gunj used to be a very posh neat and clean Shopping area during the sixties and seventies. We used to roam around the place almost every evening and enjoy the ‘Raunaq’ of those days ! It’s rather sad but true . HASHIM

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  7. It is sad that a historic city has been allowed to deteriorate. I have never been there. The people of India need to treat its history with a little more respect.

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  8. Heya i am for the first time here. I came across this board and I find It truly useful & it helped me out a lot. I hope to give something back and aid others like you aided me.

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