You will come here for all the great things you’ve heard about it. But, you’ll stay for all that and much more. Hazratganj stays a worthy example of the unique culture of Lucknow. Let’s take a look.
WORDS BY- AMOG
The first thing that hits you when you’re in Lucknow, and stays with you long after you’ve visits, is its old-world charm. Its exquisite monuments, British-era buildings, and the well-known ‘Lakhnawi Tehzeeb,’ the etiquette of the people of Lucknow, they all add to the beauty of this charming city. The ‘City of Nawabs’ is the capital of the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The legacy of the Nawabs of Lucknow has been passed down through generations, bestowing the city with its well-known culture and delectable cuisine. The city continues to be at the forefront of culture, education, commerce, finance and tourism in the modern world.
But, its heritage stays untouched by commercialization and urbanization.
In 1827, the then Nawab Nasiruddin Haider laid the foundation of the Ganj market by introducing the China Bazaar and Kaptaan Bazaar, (Captain’s market) which sold goods from China, Japan and Belgium.
The famous Taar Wali Kothi, Dargah of 12 Imam’s at Khas Mukaam, Choti Chattar Manzil, Saawan-Bhadoh Mahal, the stunning Baradari, which was earlier situated between Kaiserbagh, Darulshafa, and Lalbagh also emerged during his regime.
In 1842, the name of the area was changed to Hazratganj after Nawab Amjad Ali Shah, who was popularly known as ‘Hazrat’.
After the First War of Independence in 1857, the British took over the city and Hazratganj was modeled after London’s Queen Street. Many old Mughal style buildings were demolished and new European structures came up.
Ring Theatre, the present GPO, served add the Ball Room and theatre for the British officers and was called ‘Entertainment Centre’.
It’s another matter that its doors would be closed for the natives.
This place was exclusively for the Britishers and natives were barred from entering.Later on, it was converted into a special court and witnessed the hearing for the Kakori Conspiracy case.
In 1929-32, the building was renovated in Gothic style and a clock tower was constructed in the centre and The GPO, which was then situated in Janpath, was shifted to this building after that.
When Ahmad Shah died, his son Wajid Ali Shah got an Imambara constructed in Sibtainabad at a cost of 10 Lacs.
The magnificent edifice is now called Sibtainabad Imambara, which is a centrally protected monument, and a Shia wakf under the UP Shia Central Board of Wakfs, and situated on Mahatma Gandhi Marg, Opposite Halwasiya Market.
The monument, which was under heavy encroachments and neglect has recently been restored to its old glory and is a Heritage Lover’s delight.
The Indian Coffee House came up during the First World War and was then owned by the Filmistan cinema, which today is known as Sahu Cinema. Unlike Mayfair and Ring Theatre, ICH was crowded by Indians all the time.
In the 1920s, the place became a paradise for journalists and writers and thinkers like Dr Ram Manohar Lohia, Atal Bihari Vajaypee, Chandrashekar to Yashpal, Amrit Lal Nagar, Bhagwati Charan Verma and Anand Narayan Mulla who expressed their views over a cup of coffee.
And that’s probably the reason why the street intersection in Lucknow, near a posh market by the same name, will be renamed Atal Chauraha, a nod to the former Prime Minister’s love of the area where he used to hang around as a young BJP worker.
Loitering in the area is popularly called “ganjing”, a term derived from the “ganj” in Hazratganj. It is common knowledge that Vajpayee, a five-time MP from Lucknow, was fond of ganjing when he lived in the BJP office nearby.
You could shop for trinkets and Lucknawi arts at Hazratganj. Perfumes and ittars are also common here.
A walk through this great bazaar and you will find yourself shopping for some amazing chikan dresses, eating delectable local food, walking in and out of old bookstores and stumbling across churches and museums.
This unique marketplace has rightly preserved the culture of Lucknow and yet remains contemporary and hosts an amazing shopping experience to whoever visits here.