Lucknow, the Constantinople of the East, the City famous for being the City of Nawabs, is not just another city on the map of the world, it can be said to be a concoction of feelings, emotions, and a characteristic attitude. As some Lakhnawi has tried to summarise in a phrase, “Lucknow sirf ek shehar ni hai, ye ek aise ehsaas ka naam hai jisey sirf junoon wale hi mehsoos kar sakte hain.”
Referred by some as the city of many splendours, Lucknow, a teeming bastion of hybrid culture and heritage, is renowned for its many treasures. It is a heaven for those with an interest in art, history and culture of the Indian subcontinent and can be rightly said to be a metropolis of magical charm and well-conserved monuments.
The mystical sights, magical sounds, memorable tastes and subtle smells of each corner of Lucknow are an exclusive exposition of the evolution of not just a city, but a culture, a uniquely special way of life. The city leaves such a magical impression on the hearts that Lucknow lives, breathes and resides in the heart of a Lakhanwi forever, so much so that they don’t feel at “home” anywhere else in the world.
While a portion of the city and its folks have lost most of its charm, Lucknow primarily remains one of those places where tehzeeb (culture) and tameez (respectfulness) form a part of everyday life. While some marvel at the beauty of the language that the rickshaw-waalahs speak, others are surprised at the itmenaan (nonchalance) with which the city folks drive.
Lucknow rose to fame with the shift of the centre of the Indo-Mughal civilization from Delhi to Lucknow. This is when the Lucknawi culture of sophistication, elegance, courtly etiquette, and the ever so famous art of speech was born. The swift twirls of a kathak performance, the soft perfection in each stitch of chikankari, the love for the melt in the mouth kebabs, the sophistication in the style of dressing, the mannerisms of behaving, dining and leisure making, everything evolved and flourished during that time.
Lakhnawi culture is nafees; even the way in which the “safed paan gillori” transcends the barriers of the palate cleansing paan and subtly sweetened mithai speaks for the deep rooted softness ingrained in the city and its people.
Lucknow is known for its love of classical singing and dance. The Nawabs of Lucknow patronized the traditional forms of dance (Kathak), singing (Ragas), music (Thumri), and poetry (Ghazals). Some Nawabs are also believed to have received classical vocal training under legendary Ustads such as Jafar Khan, Pyar Khan and Basit Khan. The Classical Indian dance form of Kathak, patronized by the Nawabs, marks an important part of the culture of the city. The renowned Kalka-Binda brothers and Thakur Prasadji used to perform in the courts of the Nawabs. Lucknow is the birthplace of many eminent personalities including Lacchu Maharaj, Begum Akhtar, Naushad as well as British pop singer Sir Cliff Richard.
The art of Chikankari that has graced the works of many national and international fashion designers is synonymous with Lucknow. In December 2008, Chikankari was given the Geographical Indication status by the Indian Geographical Indication Registry which recognized Lucknow as the exclusive hub of Chikankaari.
The Nawabs were great patrons of prose and poetry, which became the reason for the city folks being inclined towards education. Today, Lucknow is home to many educational and research institutes such as IIM, Central Drug Research Institute, National Botanical Research Institute, IET, Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, SGPGI and King George’s Medical University. The city boasts of a Central University, a technical university, several private universities, and a large number of other training institutions as the promising educational avenues for the youth of the city.
As everyone would agree, the true flavour of food is in Lucknow’s homes and streets. The city is sure to take you on a gourmet walk in the truest culture gullies (alleys) of India. Since the age of Nawabs, feasting on good food has been no less than a passion for Lucknow. The number of eateries around every corner of the city has been growing with every passing day. With small road-side kiosks and carts that thrive on serving the palates of Lucknow in the busiest of lanes and bylanes of old Lucknow, you will know for yourself why Lucknowites are said to be compulsive eaters who eat to derive epicurean pleasures and not to fill their bellies.
Unfortunately, the city is on the way towards losing its charm. The city which was made into a model city after Independence by a long list of responsible leaders, philosophers and influential writers, is now fast becoming home to immigrants from nearby areas. While Lucknowites hold the outsiders responsible for the major cultural shift in the city, the older generation feels that Lucknow just did not bother about conserving its heritage enough.
We at Lucknow Pulse, have set out on an endeavour to help Lucknow regain its past glory by looking forward and doing something in a direction that the city not only restores its distinctive identity and status but also takes it ahead. We want to revive the weakening Pulse of Lucknow so that the city, its residents and immigrants all flourish together to make Lucknow a sought-after destination. After all, Lucknow is known to welcome everyone with open arms and make them feel at home.
It is not just about preserving the heritage that the Nawabs left, it is about moving forward with the times. It is about feeling a sense of responsibility towards the city, about preserving its historical monuments at the same time openly welcoming the world’s leading business corporations willing to set up shops here. Lucknow Pulse is about pushing the governments for state of the art facilities such as Monorail, Metro, National Highways and the likes. It is about helping the NGOs working for literacy and women’s issues reach out to those in need, so that the city benefits as a whole.
Today, the city’s skyline has easily accommodated the malls and high rise buildings with the domes and minarets in the backdrop making Lucknow a very curious and interesting fusion of tradition and modernity. There are a number of multi-level parking complexes and recreational centres getting ready. In other words, the past has got amalgamated with the present without the fear of being non-relevant or out-of-date.
This is the kind of adaptation that we need for the mindsets as well. Going forward with the times, we at Lucknow Pulse will focus on the old Lucknow as well as the new, the past glory as well as the present developments, the heritage as well as the future!