The suburbs of Lucknow/Lakhnau ke qasbe

Its been a long time since I wrote any more installments of the accounts of my trips around Lucknow on my trusty cycle and car in the summers of 1992 and 1993. As far as I recall, the last one I wrote was about how I reached Bazar Khala….. It is a shocking omission and will soon be remedied with more episodes.  

For now, in an attempt to rekindle interest (both mine and yours, dear readers), I will revisit the topic but take a diversion – several diversions in fact, and tell you about the suburbs of Lucknow in various directions… or to be more true, the suburbs as were at that time, for I have a sneaking suspicion that as the city expands, some of them would have come within the city precincts. But then, that is an inevitable development and I recall there are so many areas which are now the centrepieces of urban development were once remote and desolated areas in which people refrained from going near or after sunset because of the fear of predators – both the two-legged and the four-legged kind. However, but we will deal with these issues later…. Let me get get back to my thrust.

Lucknow had Hardoi and Sitapur districts on the north,  Unnao on the west, Barabanki on the east and Raebareli in the south. Leaving the city environs, there were a number of settlements, ranging from towns to villages and even hamlets and I shall do the best to acquaint you with them…..

But now, how do I proceed? Shall I proceed according to the directions, or chronologically in the order I explored them? Well lets do a little of both. I will proceed according to the directions, but indicate a chronological note wherever necessary.

So lets start with the north. As I said, Lucknow had Sitapur and Hardoi in the north, with the firm also extending eastward of the district and the latter westward. The road to Sitapur was actually National Highway 24 or the Lucknow-Delhi Highway, via Sitapur, Shahjahanpur, Bareilly – where the road to Nainital lay, then Rampur, Moradabad, Hapur, Ghaziabad and then eventually Delhi. We had extensively motored down the road, till the events of 1993 when my father swore of the road trip but I will be steadfast and not digress at all. That tale will be told some other time.

The highway, or the Sitapur Road as it was popularly called started as you crossed the picturesque bridge leading from the roundabout leading to the Imambaras, and as you crossed the sluggish Gomti, you espied the milestone informing you that Delhi was 499 km away. The area was a melange – on the left was Qadam Rasul and Mausambagh (which had the grave of Akhtari Bai Faizabadi or Begum Akhtar as you might know her better), and on the right, Khadra and leading to Daliganj. It also housed the Shia College and the Madehganj police chauki. Till the early 1990s, it was a quiet area, flanked by trees on both sides but since then I was distressed to see all the trees had been cut down and the area become a bustling and noisy place…. like most part of our cities. Driving on, you passed the meter-gauge railway line crossing near the Daliganj station. If you had turned right, you have entered into Nirala Nagar, a fairly new colony named after a Hindi poet. But will not turn and go and straight….. besides the railway line which continued along the highway. Further on the left was …… but this is getting into a extension of the city roads story. Lets skip some parts (and distance) and arrive at the Naveen Galla Mandi (or literally the New Grain Marketin case you did not understand), which also housed a police chauki of the same name coming under the Aliganj thana. Ahead of this began the rural area – or did so at that time and now I come to know it has been swallowed by the steadily expanding city…..

It was slightly over 20 km from your start – and I still remember that early morning cycle ride with Father Danjo, passing Mariaon (or Mandiaon), which was the site of an old pre-1857 British cantonment and whose ruins still exist (It is also the name of the area police station) that you hit Bakshi ka Talaab or BKT or Bakshi ka Taal – as we old hands called it. Who was Bakshi and why he built the tank (which is still there besides an old temple) I have never been able to find out. However, further ahead was Itaunja – again another qasba and the police station – the last settlement before you crossed over into Sitapur, through Atari (or Attariya as we old hands called it). Between BKT and Itaunja was a turn on the left hand side which led to a non-descript hamlet called Mall (or Mal) and then to……. but that in the next installment.

To be continued….

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