Lucknow is the capital of Uttar Pradesh. It is almost in the centre of the state. Yet, 516km east from the national capital. It is best famous for its British residents during the five-month siege of 1857. However, the city had earlier witnessed the last heady days of Muslim rule in India. Before the final capitulation to the British. In fact, the summary British deposition of the incompetent last Nawab of Avadh – or of Oudh. The British name for the kingdom – Wajid Ali Shah, is usually on the list among the root causes of the Mutiny. Today, Lucknow’s fading nineteenth-century monuments bear the scars of the fighting, and of the destruction. Wrought by the British army when they regained control. Lucknow is a great place to visit during India tour. Lucknow trip includes a visit to several historic and traditional places.
The centre of Muslim power shifted gradually from Delhi to Avadh. It took place in the middle of the eighteenth century. The Mughal empire was declined by now. The later nawabs of Avadh are a byword in India for indolence and decadence. But they were the main reason for the growth of art. Cocooned from the responsibilities of government, Avadh became a magnet for poets and artists. Hindus and Muslims worked in harmony, fuelled by wealth and plentiful leisure time. Lucknow was also an important repository of Shia culture and Islamic jurisprudence. Along with its Farangi Mahal school of law attracting students from as far afield as China and Central Asia.
The patronage of the Shia Navabs also produced new expressions of the faith. The annual Muharram processions. In the memory of the martyrdom of Hussain and his two sons. It evolved into elaborate affairs with tazia. The ornate reproductions in the paper of the Shia Imam’s shrine at Karbala in southern Iraq. People carry them to the local Karbala and bury them. In Lucknow, Muharram is often a time of great tension between the Shia and Sunni Muslims. During the rest of the year, the Tazia images are kept in Imambara ( houses of the Imam). They range from humble rooms in poor Shia households to the Great Imambara built by Asaf-ud-Daula in 1784. Our Lucknow trip covers all these places.
Mark Itkonen photography.