A day in Purana Lucknow: Photo Narrative
While in New York, someone asked me a few days ago “Do you consider yourself a true Lakhnawi?” I replied “ Not only that, I might even be slightly biased for my city.”
On a beautiful day in November I set out with my camera to capture those distinctive attributes of Lucknow that I have been experiencing since my childhood: the historical element, the Lakhnawi tehzeeb, the famous chikankari (embroidery work), the delectable chaat, Tundey Kebab and the crowded streets of Chowk and Aminabad. This photo essay just gives a glimpse of the different shades of Lucknow, the city of Nawabs.
I started with the dhobi ghaat under the Pakka Pul, the oldest bridge in Lucknow built in 1914 continued onto Bada Imambara, Chhota Imambara, Residency and finally ended my tour with yummy chaat in Aminabad.
Photo 1: A man washing clothes in Gomti river near the pakka pul. There are several such dhobi ghaats along the bank of Gomti.
Photo 2: Clothes left to dry on the clothesline near the riverbank. The embroidery on these clothes is chikankari. Lucknow is the hub of chikan work that seems to have originated in the city during the Mughal period.
Photo 3: Entrance to Bara Imambara (Big shrine), one of the grandest historical buildings in Lucknow built during the 1780s under the reign of Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula. The aim of this project was to provide employment to the people during the famine period.
Photo 4: Asfi (mosque) inside the Bara Imambara.
Photo 5: Mughal architecture outside the Bowli (step well), a five floor royal bathing area, which is provided water from the river Gomti.
Photo 6: Bhoolbhulaiya (the labyrinth) was build to confuse the enemy intruders. It is built on three floors with several narrow stairways and it is very easy to get lost inside.
Photo 7: Gift shop inside the Bara Imambara. One can get all sorts of trinkets here starting from key rings to small models of the Taj Mahal.
Photo 8: Street food especially bhelpuri (a spicy mixture of puffed rice, chana, tomatoes, onions etc.) is a mouth watering delicacy.
Photo 9: Chhota Imambara (small shrine) was built under the reign of Muhammad Ali Shah in 1838 to serve as a mausoleum for his mother. (Photo Courtesy: Manushree Gangwar www.silvermonocle.com)
Photo 10: Lucknow Residency (also called British Residency) was built in 1800 AD during the reign of Nawaab Saadat Ali Khan to serve as resident of British Resident General who was a representative in Nawab’s court. This place witnessed a long battle in 1857 and hence only the ruins remain today.
After this long visit to the historical places that are located close by, I headed to the crowded Aminabad Bazaar. This market has existed since the time of the Nawaabs and it is made up of very narrow streets that are easy to get lost in like the Bhool Bhulaiya. The shops in the market sell everything from ornaments to clothes and all kinds of food. The special attraction is the Thursday street market where the vendors sell their products outside the shops on the main streets.
Photo 11: A commonly used local transport called Tempo or Vikram that is run on CNG (Compressed Natural Gas).
Photo 12: A crowded street in Aminabad.
Photo 13: A food vendor in Aminabad during the Thursday street market.
Photo 14: A shop in Gadbadjhaala displaying kaleere, an ornament worn by brides. Gadbadjhaala is in Aminabad and it is famous of artificial jewelry and bangle stores.
Photo 15: Chaatwala in Aminabad. Lucknow chaat is a delicacy and this little shop in one of the narrow lanes of Aminabad makes the most amazing dahi chaat and paani ke batashe.
Photo 16: A fruit vendor in Aminabad.
Photo 17: A tangawala (horsecart puller) basking in the sun like a nawab, while waiting for customers.
Lucknow is rightly called the city of Nawabs. Even though the nawabs are no longer there, their attributes still reflect in the Lakhnawis (people of Lucknow). Our language, warmth, leisurely attitude and tehzeeb, is what makes us true nawabs and hence my bias for my city.
(This photo essay was first published in www.cafedissensusblog.com)
True shades of Nawabon ka Shehar Lucknow :)
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