Lucknow and Faizabad, February 18-22
On February 18 we flew from Delhi to Lucknow where we were received at the airport by relatives. We spent the next couple of days with our niece-in-law who did everything and more to make our stay pleasant and memorable. Her house is in old Lucknow where the noise never stops, except for one night when I woke up to total silence. The silence woke me because it was so unusual. No trains, no cars, no hooting, tooting, shouting, barking. No mosque calling for prayer. It lasted all of about 5 minutes and everything went back to normal.
We drove out to Faizabad where my sister-in-law had lived. It was a visit to say good bye to her in spirit. A visit to the house where she had lived her married life, and where one of her sons still resides. Memories flooded back into our minds; sweet memories.
The main difference now where the monkeys. All the veranda’s had to be protected by gates to keep the monkeys out. Flowerbeds and vegetable gardens were no more, as those pests eat everything in sight. Fruit in the trees? Ha! Food for the monkeys, not for the humans anymore. Too bad.
Back in Lucknow we decided to be tourists. This was really for me. My husband is very familiar with the city as he went to university there. I have been there on previous visits but never really got the chance to see some of the beautiful buildings there.
We we wandered through the Shah Najaf Imambara, the Bara Imambara, the Chota Imambara, the Bhulbhulayah Labyrinth, where you would get totally lost without a guide. We admired the Asfi Mosque, , the Imam Bargah.
Somehow these buildings, with the exception of the Shah Najaf Imambara, are all interrelated and have a very interesting history.
Bara means big, and an Imambara is a shrine built by Shia Muslims.
The complex includes the large Asfi mosque, the Bhulbhulayah (the labyrinth), and Bowli, a step well.
Two imposing gateways lead to the main hall.
ARCHITECTURE: Reflects the maturation of ornamented Mughal design. No European elements or the use of iron. Neither a mosque, nor a mausoleum, but a huge building having interesting elements. Construction of halls and use of vaults show a strong Islamic influence. The main Imambara consists of a large vaulted central chamber containing the tomb of Asaf-ud- Daula.
Plan—- 50 m x 16 m. Height— 15 m Has no beams supporting the ceiling (one of the largest arched constructions in the world). Blocked (tunnel) passageway, according to legends, leads to a location near the Gomti River. Other passages lead to Faizabad (the former seat of power of the Nawabs), Allahabad and even to Delhi.
Above information is from Raghav Dwivedi at this link.
We had also planned to visit the famous Botanical Gardens in Lucknow but we were too late. They are apparently only open for a couple of hours early in the morning.
We wandered around old Lucknow a bit, having “basket wali chaat“ at the Royal Café, visiting some stores, crossing the roads with my heart in my throat, hopping between cars, rickshaws, carts, motorbikes, bicycles and more.
We drove through new Lucknow which is a humongous contrast with the old city. It makes you wonder why the money spent on palace-like university buildings for example, would not have been better spent on improving the conditions of the old town, where you can still find open sewers, garbage piled on the sides of the streets, huts and “shops” built of a hodgepodge of materials.
We did enjoy our visit to Lucknow, in spite of the not always positive contrasts and mostly because of the warm and generous hospitality of our family.