About Lucknow

Bada Imambara Lucknow

Lucknow is the capital city of Uttar Pradesh and it has always been a multicultural city. Courtly manners, beautiful gardens, poetry, music, and fine cuisine patronized by the Persian-loving Shia Nawabs of the city are well known amongst Indians and students of South Asian culture and history

Lucknow is popularly known as the City of Nawabs. It is also known as the Golden City of the East, Shiraz-i-Hind and The Constantinople of India.

History of Lucknow

Avadh is claimed to be among the most ancient of Hindu states. According to popular legend, Ramchandra of Ayodhya, the hero of the Ramayana, gifted the territory of Lucknow to his devoted brother Lakshman after he had conquered Sri Lanka and completed his term of exile in the jungle. Therefore, people say that the original name of Lucknow was Lakshmanpur, popularly known as Lakhanpur or Lachmanpur.

The city of Ayodhya which was 40 miles away from Lakshmanpur, was reported to be full of great riches: "Its streets, well arranged, were refreshed with ceaseless streams of water ~ its walls, variously ornamented, resembled the checkered surface of a chess-board. It was filled with merchants, dramatists, elephants, horses and chariots. The cloud of fragrant incense darkened the sun at noonday: but the glowing radiance of the resplendent diamonds and jewels that adorned the persons of the ladies relieved the gloom!.." (Ramayana).

The ancient metropolis of Ayodhya was situated on the banks of the Ghagra, a river as wide as the Ganges at Chunar and its extensive ruins can still be seen. There is no record of when and how Ayodhya came to be deserted or allowed to decay: the legend is that Rama ascended to heaven, carrying with him all the population of the place. So large had the city been that Lakshmanpur was described as its suburb!

Taking a descent through the mists of time we alight upon Ayodhya again in the record books of the Emperor Akbar. It is a prodigious descent in time -from fifteen centuries before the Christian era to fifteen centuries after. Incredibly though, not much is known about the history of Avadh during this time. We know that after the conquest of Kanauj by the Afghans at the end of the twelfth century, Avadh submitted to the Sultan of Ghazni, and so became part of the empire of Delhi. Avadh then asserted its independence for a while under a Muslim ruler, but he was over-thrown by Babur, and Avadh became a subah or province of the Moghul Empire.

As the Moghul power declined and the emperors lost their paramount positions and they became first the puppets and then the prisoners of their feudatories, so Avadh grew stronger and more independent. Its capital city was Faizabad.

Of all the Muslim states and dependencies of the Moghul Empire, Avadh had the newest royal family. They were descended from a Persian adventurer called Sadat Khan, originally from Khurasan in Persia. There were many Khurasanis in the service of the Moghuls, mostly soldiers, and if successful, they could hope for rich rewards. Sadat Khan proved to be amongst the most successful of this group. In 1732, he was made governor of the province of Avadh. His original title was Nazim, which means Governor, but soon he was made Nawab. In 1740, the Nawab was called Wazir or vizier, which means Chief Minister, and thereafter he was known as the Nawab Wazir. In practice, from Sadat Khan onwards, the titles had been hereditary, though in theory they were in the gift of the Moghul emperor, to whom allegiance was paid. A nazar, or token tribute, was sent each year to Delhi, and members of the imperial family were treated with great deference: two of them actually lived in Lucknow after 1819, and were treated with great courtesy.

Achieving a certain degree of independence from the Moghuls in Delhi did not, unfortunately, mean that the Nawabs could rule entirely as they pleased. They had merely exchanged one master for another. The British, in the form of the East India Company based in Calcutta, had long looked with predatory eyes at the wealth of Avadh. Excuses for interference in the province were not hard to find. The most catastrophic from the Avadh point of view came when Shuja-ud-Daula invaded Bengal, and actually briefly held Calcutta. But British military victories at Plassey in 1757 and Buxar in 1764 utterly routed the Nawab. When peace was made, Avadh had lost much land. But the enemies became friends, on the surface anyway, and the Nawab Wazir was extolled in the British Parliament as the Chief native allay of the East India Company in all India.

The Nawabs surrendered their independence little by little over many years. To pay for the protection of British forces and assistance in war, Avadh gave up first the fort of Chunar, then the districts of Benares and Ghazipur, then the fort at Allahabad; all the time the cash subsidy which the Nawab paid to the Company grew and grew.

In 1773, the fatal step was taken by the Nawab of accepting a British Resident at Lucknow, and surrendering to the Company all control over foreign policy. Soon the Resident, however much he might defer ceremonially to the Nawab, became the real ruler.

Asaf -ud-Daula, son of Shuja-ud- Daula, moved the capital from Faizabad to Lucknow in 1775 and made it one of the most prosperous and glittering cities in all India. Why did he move? On a whim, it is said, because he wanted to get away from the control of a dominant mother. On such a thread did the fate of the great city of Lucknow depend!

Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula was a generous and sympathetic ruler, an inveterate builder of monuments and a discriminate patron of the arts. He built the Bara Imambara with its intricate bhul-bhulayya and adjoining mosque, primarily to create employment for his subjects during a time of drought. The Rumi Darwaza also testifies to his architectural zeal.

His son, Wazir Ali, was the one who most regretted his grandfather's ac- ceptance of a British resident at Lucknow. In 1798, the Governor-General removed him from the throne, on the excuse that there was doubt as to whether he was a true son of Asaf-ud- Daula, but more probably because he was displaying tendencies to independence. They put Asafs brother, Sadat Ali Khan, on the throne. Sadat Ali Khan, though economical in fiscal management, was nevertheless an enthusiastic builder and commissioned many grand palaces, including Dilkusha, Hayat Baksh and Farhat Baksh, as well as the famous Lal Baradari. Hereafter the dynasty had to look to Calcutta rather than to Delhi to settle the succession.

The assassination of a British Resident in 1798 in Benares by the deposed Wazir Ali gave further excuse for interference, and Lord Wellesley (brother of the Duke of Wellington) was just the man to exploit it. By the treaty of 1801, the Nawab had to give up his own army, and pay heavily for a British-led one in its place. The southern doab (Rohilkhand) was ceded, and the remainder of the district of Allahabad and other areas became part of British India. In thirty years, Avadh had lost half its territory to the British.

The Nawab demanded in return for these concessions that he should have a free hand in governing his remaining territory, unchecked by the advice or interference of the British. But in this, he was badly handicapped by the fact that he had to rely on British troops to enforce his orders. Wellesley had another trick up his sleeve: a clause of the treaty by which the Nawab under- took to establish a system of administration "by the advice of and acting in conformity to the counsel of the officers of the Honourable Company" which should be conducive to the prosperity of his subjects. It seemed a harmless clause, but was to be the means by which the British eventually annexed Avadh.

Thus, from 1819 onwards, things ran their course in Avadh. Sadat Ali being gathered to his fathers, Ghazi his son sat on the musnud, the throne, and took the cognomen "ud-Din", implying Defender of the Faith. He was formally invested with the title of King by the British, though ironically the proclamation of kingship coincided with a period of almost complete dependence on the British. He lent two millions of rupees to the British for the Nepal War, and at its close got the Nepalese Terai ~ a marshy forest extending along the foot of the Himalayas -in liquidation of half the debt. Some might have thought it a poor bargain, but in fact the Terai eventually produced some very valuable timber.

Ghazi-ud-Din was a good monarch, responsible for much building and public works of all kinds, and he paid due attention to the administration of justice. He built the Mubarak Manzil and Shah Manzil as well as Hazari Bagh, in which he introduced Lucknow society to the sport of animal contests for the first time.

Lucknow at a Glance

Area : 2.528 sq. km.

Population : 4,588,455 (2011 census)

Altitude : 123 mts. above sea level.

Season : October – March

Clothing (Summer) : Cottons Winter : Woolens

Language : Hindi, Urdu, English

Festivals : Holi, Dusschra, Diwali, Jamghat, Bada Mangal Mela, Id-Ul-Zuha, Id-Ul-Fitar, Shab-e-Barat, Moharrum & Lucknow Mahotsav (November 25- December 05)

Local Transport : Bus/Tempo/Auto Rickshaw/Taxi Tonga/Cycle Rickshaw

STD Code : 0522

Co-ordinate : 26°51'N 80°55'E

Geography of Lucknow

Situated in the heart of the great Gangetic plain, Lucknow city is surrounded by its rural towns and villages like the orchard town of Malihabad, historic Kakori, Mohanlal ganj, Gosainganj, Chinhat, Itaunja.

On its eastern side lies Barabanki District, on the western side is Unnao District, on the southern side Raebareli District, and on the northern side the Sitapur and Hardoi districts. The Gomti River, the chief geographical feature, meanders through the city, dividing it into the Trans-Gomti and Cis-Gomti regions. Lucknow city is located in the seismic zone.

Craft & Culture of Lucknow

Lucknow, the golden city of the east' retains an old world charm that fascinates one and all. Regarded as one of the finest cities of India, Lucknow emanates a culture that combines emotional warmth, a high degree of sophistication, courtesy and a love for gracious living.

This sublime cultural richness famous as 'Lucknowi Tehzeeb' blends the cultures of two communities living side by side for centuries, sharing similar interests, speaking a common language -Urdu. Many of the cultural traits and customs peculiar to Lucknow have become living legends today.

The credit for this goes to the Nawabs of Awadh, who took keen interest in every walk of life and encouraged them to attain a rare degree of perfection.

Places to Visit

Lucknow is very interesting place with a large numbers of historical buildings constructed by Awadh Nawabs which attract tourists. Here are some historical buildings.

How to Reach

By Air :

Lucknow airport is at Amausi, located about 15 km from the city center.

By Rail :

Lucknow is serviced mainly by the Northern and NE Railway networks.

By Road :

Lucknow is on the crossroads of National Highways 24, 25 and 28 running east, west and south. It is well connected by road with major cities like Agra (363 km), Allahabad (225 km), Calcutta (985 km), Delhi (497 km), Kanpur (79 km) and Varanasi (305 km).

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map Saharanpur Bijnor Meerut Amroha Rampur Gautam Budh Nagar Bareilly Pilibhit Lakhimpur Shahjahanpur Budaun Bahraich Shravasti Sitapur Hardoi Farrukhabad Aligarth Hathras Bulandshahr Mathura Agra Balrampur Sidharth Nagar Santkabir Nagar Maharajganj Kushinagar Gorakhpur Deoria Ballia Ghazipur Mau Azamgarh Ambedkar Nagar Basti Gonda Faizabad Barabanki Lucknow Unnao Kanpur Dehat Kanpur Nagar Auraiya Etawah Kannauj Mainpuri Firozabad Lalitpur Jhansi Jalaun Mahoba Hamirpur Banda Fatehpur Raibareilly Chitrakoot Allahabad Mirzapur Sonbhadra Chandauli Varanasi Sant Ravidas Nagar Jaunpur Kaushambi Pratapgarh Shamali Muzaffarnagar Baghpat Ghaziabad Hapur Moradabad Sambhal Etah Kasganj Amethi Sultanpur

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