How's my Luck now?

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

Location: India

Friday, January 21, 2005

ek yaatraa - XIII

Day 6: Lucknow, 2 Jan. 2005, Sunday

The Residency
The main place we were yet to see was the British Residency. It is located not far away from Aminabad and Parivartan Chowk. On the way, we saw the Bhatkhande Sangeet Sansthan, from which many eminent musicians (including the music director Roshan) have graduated in the past. The Residency complex is much bigger than what we had imagined.
The Residency is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, under the charge of the Archaeological Survey of India. The entrance to the main complex is through a big gate known as the Baillie Gate. Just inside the gate is an ASI map showing the various structures in the complex.
The British established this Residency after ousting Nawab Wajid Ali Shah from Lucknow and annexing the city. It has some buildings built by the nawab-s also. The main event that this complex was testimony to was the First War of Indian Independence in 1857. Sir Henry Lawrence commanded the Residency at the time. Indian forces, led by the brave Begum Hazrat Mahal, attacked and besieged the complex. For 87 days, heavy cannon warfare took place. Finally, after receiving reinforcements under Sir Havelock, the British drove back the Awadh forces and kept control of Lucknow.
As the ASI signpost said, "every wall of every building of the complex bears a scar of that time in the form of cannonball marks". Except the main Residency building and an Imambara and a mosque, all other buildings are in ruins - the resident doctor's house, the soldiers' quarters, the huge banqueting hall (built by the nawab-s), the Begum's house, the treasury, etc. A few buildings, like that of the Church, were razed to the ground in the conflict.
After viewing all this, we entered the main Residency building, now converted into a museum. Inside is a huge clay model of the entire complex as it originally was before 1857 (made by the British). Photos of the nawab-s, Begum Hazrat Mahal and Rani Laxmibai adorned the walls. The passage walls were covered by beautiful and extremely detailed lithographs of the Residency complex and Lucknow in general, made on the spot by British Army officers of the time. This gives us an idea of the meticulousness of the British as historians. One relief in a room showed the killing of a certain Miss Susanna Palmer by a cannonball which had invaded that room.
A cellar could be accessed by means of a spiral stone staircase. This was huge and housed several galleries of exhibits. From letters written by Hazrat Mahal to the weapons used during the war to modern models by artists, there was a lot to be seen.
We had spent 2.5 hours here, much more than what we had expected to. After resting awhile on a bench, we took a tour of the huge lawns behind the main building and then made our way out.

We climbed into cycle-rickshaws and went to Aminabad - the city's large discount market. It instantly reminded us of Ahmedabad's walled city markets of Manek Chowk, etc. Aminabad seemed to consist of a lot of squares, with 4 or 5 narrow roads emanating from each one. Each road was lined with shops and hawkers. We just took a cursory glance around some of the streets and then went to Hazratganj.
Our lunch consisted of samosa-s and gulab jamun-s, which were excellently made. We spent the rest of the afternoon and the evening resting in the hotel, until it was time my parents left. We had some south Indian fare in a nearby restaurant for a change - our last meal of the tour. From here, my parents and I took opposite routes - they to the railway station and I, back to the institute. The Awadh Express that my parents took was running three hours late, just late enough to make them miss the connecting train at Vadodara station. So, while I settled in for another term here, they reached home after a 2-night, 1.5-day gruelling journey.

Overall, the trip was most enjoyable, albeit with a few negatives here and there. I concluded that I am not cut out for a purely religious tour. There must be history thrown in to make a place truly interesting. All in all, a memorable tour.



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