And in a change, I will hit the ground running in this third installment of my account of Lucknow‘s suburbs as I saw them in the early 1990s. In the last two posts, I had dealt with the north (Bakshi ka Talaab and Itaunja on the Sitapur Road) and north-eastern- or more correctly north by north-eastern (Gudamba on the Kursi Road) – routes out of the city.
Proceeding by the clockwise method, I will now head east – to the National Highway 28 or more commonly, the Faizabad Road (though it ran all the way to Gorakhpur and beyond). The Faizabad Road started as you passed the IT crossing from the Daliganj side to the Mahanagar side, to be besides the Isabella Thoburn Girls College on your left hand (hence the IT), or if you turned right from the University Road or left if coming from the Nirala Nagar side. You went on east, passing the parade ground of the Police Lines on your right and took the Fatima Hospita flyover, gazing at the grounds of the Karamat Hussain Girls College on the left, till you descended into the bustle of Nishatganj (the other flyover came much later), crossed the Umrao Cinema on the left and the Badshah Nagar crossing and then the Kukrail Nallah as you enetered into the erstwhile Ram Sagar Misra Nagar (re-christened Indira Nagar, after Mrs Gandhi’s return to power in 1980 but still called by its old name well into the 1990s). For many reasons I will not go into detail here or anywhere else till 2035, I will not linger in the area or its strangely named Bhootnath Market, built around the temple of Baba Bhootnath (where one evening I and a friend roamed and discovered among other curious sights, an Ambassador car parked in a building bearing the sign – Gaushaala (cowshed) )and continue straight on till the HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited Complex) on the right-hand side and then diagonally on the left – some distance ahead or so, the Ghazipur thana. Again in my initial jaunts, ahead of HAL, I saw signs announcing Ismailganj – a site that should be well known to those well acquainted with the events of the tumultuous year 1857, especially in the Avadh region – and a place, or more accurately a clutch of thatched huts that seemed makeshift shops or workshops, rejoicing in the name Kamta – but soon these had disappeared.
A little ahead was the right hand-turn to Gomti Nagar, growing slowly in those days but that part near the Faizabad Road still sparsely populated. And then, ahead of the Polytechnic on the Gomti Nagar T-point did the ride begin in earnest – a tree-flanked avenue leading on…
Well, it was not much of a long ride, for in a few minutes, you arrived at the hamlet of Chinhat. Here the road forked… the left-hand side leading on to Bara Banki (and after another fork someway ahead to the shrine of Haji Waris Ali Shah at Dewa. In fact, I remember that early morning ride one fine December morning when we tried to cycle to Dewa without knowing the exact distance and gave up disheartened less then midway as the wall of an industrial establishment on the left-hand side seemed to stretch on interminably….. It was much later we found it was 40 km. However, to return to Chinhat and that fork, the dusty trail on the right-hand side to be exact.
This was a road we took a long time, en route to the popular picnic spot at the aqueduct, or Indira Barrage at it was usually known. It wasn’t much – just a fast-flowing canal over a sluggish-rivulet but the greenery, the view and so on was attractive in its one way. It was the venue of a school picnic, an outing from a coaching and then there were times I cycled on alone…. but I am getting on ahead of my story.
Before I tell you more, I must tell you that the route to the picnic spot passed through a small village called Malhaur where you passed the railway line. (When we wanted to refer to these spots “fashionably”, we used to refer to Chinhat, pronounced “Chin-hut” as “Chin-hat” while the non-descript Malhaur became “Mallory”.)
And now one thought before I finish my tale. Of all the myriad recollections that flood my mind when I remember the area, the most memorable and significant I feel was my trip to the forested grove – on descending to the right hand side of the canal, on my first-ever trip I guess. I remember plunging in and then running in a mix of exulation and mild panic till the trees thinned out and I came to the far side… where boundless fields stretched to the far horizon. I still get vivid dreams of the unforgettable scene….
To be continued…..