Monday, September 05, 2005

Lucknow: A Brief History

History is a boring subject, therefore, I didn't want to dwell upon the city's history. But since Nikhil specifically requested for it, I would put it up in brief.

Lucknow was initially part of the Kaushal kingdom belonging to lord Ram. When Lakshman was returning to Ayodhya after dropping Sita at guru Valmiki's ashram in Bithoor, he stayed on the banks of river Gomti for a few days.

That place was a smallish hillock, rather not even a hillock. It was a Tila(if one is familiar with the term). He even built a small temple over there. It is believed that Lucknow's foundation was laid by Lakshman himself, and that's why Lucknow was erstwhile known as Lakshmanpur. That Tila, today, is known as Lakshman Tila.

Later, Lakshmanpur changed to Lakhnawati, which further morphed into Lucknow. Till early eighteenth century, the base of such hillocks were solely occupied by Brahmins, Kayasthas, and some stray Rajputs.

Then came in Nawabs. They were ministers of Moghuls who were sent to keep control over the area. First amongst these was sent by Aurangzeb. But unlike religiously biased Moghuls, Nawabs were peace loving, pious, large hearted and secular. They celebrated both Hindu and Muslim festival with same fervour. These Nawabs were of Iranian origin, hence they were of Shia cult.

This magical blend of secular Shias, and peaceful original Hindus gave rise to the famous Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb of the Awadh region. This is perhaps the reason why even at the peak of Hindu-Muslim riots during Babri Masjid demolition or Gujarat riots, hardly a life was lost here without any curfews. Even 1984 Hindu-Sikh riots had muted effect over here. It's a perfect cosmopolitan city.

Nawabs remained till 1857, and after that last of the Nawabs were shunted out to Calcutta and it was ruled by British cantonment since then till independence.

That makes the brief history of the city.