How's my Luck now?

Reflections, views and descriptions during my stay at IIM Lucknow from July 2004 to March 2006

Location: India

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

ek yaatraa - X

Day 4: Allahabad/Lucknow, 31 Dec. 2004, Friday

Anand Bhawan
The next place to visit was the famous residence of the Nehrus - Anand Bhawan - witness to many meetings and movements during the freedom struggle, host to great leaders of that time. The complex has big grounds with lawns. The Nehru planetarium is directly visible from the gate. The Anand Bhawan building is quite big. It is made of white stone, with blue domes and top.
We began our tour with the ground floor which mainly belonged to Motilal Nehru. The rooms have been kept as they must have been during the time of actual residence. Glass partitions have been made at or just inside the doors, so each room is like a viewing gallery. The furniture was made of superb polished wood all through the house - four-poster beds, dressing tables, almirahs, study tables, etc. Bookcases dominated the house and there wasn't an inch of space left on any one. The family were voracious readers.
One of the rooms had been given away to the Congress for meetings, and this had white gaadi-takiya-s on the floor. All three walls had filled wall-to-wall bookcases. Rooms belonging to Swarup Rani Nehru and Indira were also there on the ground floor. Right opposite Indira's room was a square porch where Indira and Feroze Gandhi were married. One of the rooms was often used by Gandhiji.
The first floor belonged to Jawaharlal and Kamala Nehru. It housed various odds-and-ends of the family like cutlery, letters, showpieces, clothing, etc. On a ground floor showcase was also the original will of Indira Gandhi, signed by Rajiv & Sanjay. As the drawing room's opulence showed, this family also had had its show-off side (not that it is all over now).
Opposite this main building was another building converted into a museum, in which we couldn't spend much time. It contained a pictorial and annotated life-story of Jawaharlal Nehru. The photos were fascinating.

Nehru Planetarium
We decided to watch a show at the planetarium - something I had only done once before in Mumbai. The planetarium is pretty small compared to the Mumbai one, and the show was standard fare, but quite enjoyable. Outside the theatre, we also weighed ourselves on a machine which gave out moon-weights of things.

Swaraj Bhawan
Behind the Anand Bhawan and separated from it by a wall is the huge building of Swaraj Bhawan. This cream-coloured building was originally owned by Sir Sayyid Ahmed Khan, from whom Motilal Nehru bought it. Inside, the house has dark corridors and tall ceilings. The big drawing room was witness to several birthday parties of Jawaharlal. Here, too, we had rooms belonging to the different family members. Kamala Nehru's room was where Indira was born.
There was also a great cellar where secret Congress meetings happened. Overall, a humongous building. It was quite generous on Motilal's part to give this building away totally to the freedom movement.

Having spent 2.5 hours seeing all this, we decided to go back to the hotel, have lunch and catch a bus to Lucknow.

Chandrashekhar Azad Park
On the way to the hotel, we passed a great park. It was not particularly green, but was vast in size. As our auto-wallah told us (incorrectly), Chandrashekhar Azad was arrested by the British in this park. The fact is that Azad actually died in a gunfight with the British in this park. It is a sad commentary that while the Nehrus' residence is a celebrated sightseeing attraction, no particular importance has been given to the place where this hero laid down his life.

Indian Coffee House
My father had asked the auto-wallah to show us the historic Indian Coffee House from the outside, at least. Akin to Calcutta coffee-houses, this one too has remained host to prominent UP politicians and witnessed several political intrigues being thought up. It is a dilapidated, but working, structure inside a street today.

To Lucknow
Finally, we had lunch and bid goodbye to Allahabad. We were on the last leg of our journey now. We caught an A.C. bus from the depot right next to the tourist bungalow. It took us a substantial 4.5 hours to reach Lucknow. They were showing the atrocious movies 'Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Saathiyo' and 'Hulchul' in the bus. We ended the day watching some funny programmes on TV on occasion of 31st Dec., in Hotel Gomti, behind Hazratganj.



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