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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The City of Nawabs - Lucknow

Lucknow city is popularly known as the ‘the city of Nawabs’. Situated on the banks of the river Gomti, it dates back to the time of the Suryavanshi dynasty. Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, was founded by Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula. In the olden times, it served as the capital of the nawabs of Awadh and it is one of the reasons why it is also called as the city of the Nawabs. The era of the Nawabs bestowed Lucknow with the courteous culture as well as mouthwatering delicacies for which it is famous today. Travel to Lucknow with us to find more information on this interesting city!Even after witnessing tremendous modernization, Lucknow has managed to retain its age-old charm and glory. The warmth, the hospitality and the formality of the city have still not been lost. The era of the nawabs also gifted Lucknow with the literature, music, dance and arts and crafts that draw tourists here. Infact, it was in the streets of the city only that Tabla and Sitar were born. Lucknow tourism brings one closer to the glorious days city, through a visit to its numerous monuments and ruins The city of Lucknow has a magical charm surrounding it. Be it its delicious cuisine or its heart melting culture, the city leaves an everlasting impression on its visitors. It is one of the few places where one can still find people saying ‘aap’, ‘janab’, ‘pehle aap’, etc. Even though flats have replaces Nawabi mansions, the city is still as charismatic as before. So, visit Lucknow and lose yourself in the magic and allure of the city.

Lucknow – The upcoming METRO is a hallmark of cultural extravaganza, known all over the world for its many splendours. A city that has a magical charm, a charm that’s forever and a charm that’s apart. Be it the cultural charm or the monumental one, all are well conserved here to make Lucknow ” The city of many splendours”. Walking through the lanes and by-lanes of Chowk and Aminabad one finds Lucknow of yore. The ‘tehzib’ or mannerism is still prominent and a topic of great appreciation. This is a city that still speaks the language of “aap-janab”"pehle aap” is still a part of everyday life for a true Lakhnawi. – and so natural it is – Aadab or salutation which has its own sophistication and style. Dress forms though have changed noticeably in the span of a century, yet the beauty and charisma of Chikan – the intricate and delicate hand embroidery, still rules the wardrobe. Lucknow is in fact among a few cities that duly understands the grace of the ‘dupattas’ or the covering cloth. Wisdom, women and wine are the three things truly understood and respected by the Nawabs. Not a thing of condemnation but an institution it was the “kothas”, where sons of Nawabs were deliberately sent to learn the culture, sophistication and respect for the fairer sex. Muzzafar Ali’s unforgettable film “Umrao Jaan” is a depiction of this social institution. Love was found in either Paris or Lucknow– a proof of this is the lovers lane in the posh modern Hazratganj: these lanes were used as a meeting place for the lonely hearts to escape the monitoring eyes of their parents. “Kan kauwe bazi” or kite flying was not only a pastime but the means of sending love letters to the beloved, “kal shaam kothe pe aana, hum intezaar kareinge tumhara”– Tomorrow in the evening come to the terrace, I’ll wait for you. Such words were written on the patang or the kite and the kite was flown and dropped on the beloved’s terrace. A story goes that once a Chhote Nawab did this with his beloved and instead of the beloved getting the letter her mother found it and the love bug bit her, assuming that the Bade Nawab has done this sweet and naughty thing, she reciprocated in the same manner writing “Intezaar tumhara hi to tha humein, umra bhar rahein takte rahe, der lagee aane mein tumko, shukr hai phir bhi aaye to”– I was waiting for this all my life, you came late yet now you have come. Thus started the love between the Bade Nawab and the Badi Begum which ended up in their marriage and left the real ones to repent. Today in Lucknow many things may have impurities but preparations like those of Tunde-ke-kabab, Rahim-ke-kulche nihari, Kababs at Akbari Gate, Ram Asrey ki malai aur lal peda, Raja-ki-thandai, Parathas naans aur sheermals ya Sharma-ki-chaat have held their heads high due to purity and standards maintained. Good eateries in Lucknow are often found in the serpentine lanes of old Lucknow. So many of you would have been born in Lucknow like me, but will agree that each day is distinct. The shades of the monuments differ with each sun and moon. You discover and rediscover Lucknow everyday. No one has known Lucknow to the full and will never. That is why : “Jisey Aap Kehte Hain Lucknow – Usey Hum Kehte Hain Duja Jahan” (The place that you call Lucknow – we call the other world) .

Lucknow The City of Nawabs !!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Politics of Uttar Pradesh

Mayawati was embroiled in the case of a murder of Public Works Department engineer Manoj Kumar Gupta, who was brutally lynched to death in Auraiya by a BSP MLA for not fulfilling the demand for contribution to Mayawati’s birth day fund. Embarrassed, she declared no collection of funds in future for her birth days. This year, it was not her own birth day but the 25th birthday of her party and 76th of her mentor Kanshiram. She pushed herself again into the eye of the storm over a mega rally organized for the occasion on March 15 at Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar in Lucknow, estimated to have cost over Rs 200 crores.
The arrangements were simply on a mind boggling scale that would make even the most extravagant nawabs of Lucknow turn up into their graves in disbelief. She was likened by the Congress to Nero playing fiddle as the communal riot in Bareilly in the preceding week had yet not subsided Politics of the vote bank. The usual bias of media overflowed painting her in bad light. What stunned them on the day of the rally however was the giant garland made up of currency notes of Rs. 1000 denomination presented to her on the stage. Considering its visible length and diameter even a matriculate student could estimate its value in the range of Rs. 10 to 20 crores, although for some strange reasons, the media and the Income Tax authorities reconciled it to much lower levels. Her close confidant and cabinet minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui expectedly declared that it was just Rs. 21 lakhs and that the money was collected by party functionaries in Lucknow.
The TV channels beamed the pictures with characteristic relish and sought to create revulsion in people by conducting motivated debate over it. They insinuated income tax investigation and possible action by the RBI for the misuse of currency notes. As the middle India’s indignation peaked, Mayawati responded in her characteristic style just the day after by publicly accepting another currency garland, this time of Rs. 18 lakh, from her party workers and approvingly smiled as they declared that she would be gifted with only currency garlands in future. It was reiterated that BSP collected its funds only through such small donations from ordinary people unlike other parties who did it from big industrialists.
The event provoked media to nervously reiterate its charges against Mayawati: her autocratic style and undemocratic behaviour; her hypocrisy in speaking for Dalits but living in a super-luxuriant style, her waste of public money over mega memorials, her corruption, and so on. The ruling Congress-spokesman endorsed these charges and claimed that she would pay for all these crimes. Indeed, there are some cases against her pending in the courts but they have utterly failed to scare her. The fact remains that instead of getting scared; she has been getting more and more defiant and raising the bar to a whole new level. Rather, with her outlandish acts, she is creating scare in the minds of others as they know that notwithstanding their scale, all those charges could very well stick to each of them.

This Historical Legacy of Lucknow

The last time, it was Nawab Nasir-ud-din Haider who met with a mysterious death in the hidden ante-chambers of this building. This time, Kothi Gulistan-i-Eram is embroiled in an equally mysterious controversy -- about who is accountable for its maintenance and upkeep.

And if the mystery wasn't complex enough, here's an additional dose of intrigue. While the Uttar Pradesh health directorate occupies a multi-storeyed building in the very premises, historians are divided on the correct name of the monument of medical shcool. "I have carefully examined the monuments in Lucknow. The UP health directorate building is located in the Darshan Vilas premises," says Yogesh Praveen, a noted historian from the city.

An expert on Lucknow's history, Praveen's assessment is, however, at odds with that of WH Siddiqui, another well-known historian from Lucknow. Interestingly, Siddiqui, whom senior INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) officials hold in high regard, refers to the same building as Kothi Gulistan-i-Eram for medical shcool. It is located near the Central Drug Research Institute building developed to the student aid.

But the dispute over the name is not the bone of contention. The real issue is that there's no one to take ownership of the building, an aspect that all quarters are united on. Even officials from the Lucknow circle of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) see little in the debate over the name. Admitting that the pre-British era monument was in the initial ASI list of the protected monuments for the student aid, ASI Lucknow circle's superintendent archaeologist, ID Tiwari says, "Around 1924, the building was put into the list of devolved monuments and the state government (politics) was put in charge of maintaining it. Since then the ASI has not had control over the building and was unable to stop the construction of the multi-storeyed concrete structure within a few metres of the old monument by politician." Praveen, however, is less kind with his words. "The old cultural heritage has been completely destroyed. If the ASI had been in charge, the building would not have been reduced to its current state," he says.

Sadly, despite a directive by the UP public works department (PWD) declaring that the building was in a "serious state of deterioration" and "unsafe" for use, in a curious and amusing twist, it is the health department occupying these `unhealthy' quarters. Significantly, even though the main directorate building shifted into the multi-level quarters just 25 metres away, the erstwhile Grade II protected monument is now being used as a godown for storing stationery and for maintenance work of official furniture.