The Life And Times of The Nawabs of Lucknow

The Life And Times of The Nawabs of Lucknow

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Book Specification

Item Code: IDI858
Author: Ravi Bhatt
Publisher: Rupa Publication Pvt. Ltd.
Edition: 2006
ISBN: 8129109891
Pages: 242 (Black & White Illus: 31)
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.3" X 5.4
Weight 250 gm

Book Description


The greatest civilizations of the world have been shaped by the regional cultures they encompassed, and the Indian civilisation was no exception. Universally acknowledged as the hub of rich culture manifestation, it too is indebted to its many regions in the subcontinent.

Lucknow is just a dot on the world map, but its sophisticated and refined culture, evolved over the years, has contributed considerably to the composite Indian culture. In fact, though this culture originated with the Mughal dynasty, which ruled from Delhi, it was promoted, patronized and taken to its zenith by the rulers of Awadh, better known as the Nawabs of Lucknow. These Nawabs were initially administrative cogs on the Mughul Empire, but in the year 1819, the seventh Nawab, Ghazi-ud-din Haidar, snapped ties with Delhi and declared himself an independent king. In practice though, even after their rebellion, they continued to be referred to as Nawabs, rather than kings.

It is interesting to note that the rulers of Lucknow, probably one of their kind, are remembered not so much for their war victories, but for the unique culture they espoused. This culture, without a trace of imperiousness, advanced a secular tradition that nurtured communal harmony and respect for others' feelings and faith. It was due to the strong influence of this culture that Lucknow never witnessed any communal riots, not even during Partition. This clearly proves that Lucknow's culture succeeded where the best of sermons failed.

The book tries to bring alive the colourful and idiosyncratic lifestyle of the Nawabs of Lucknow, who, knowingly and unknowingly, wove the fabric of this peerless culture.

Back Of The Book

Lucknow under the rule of the idiosyncratic Nawabs was a heady mix of flourishing arts, literature, architecture, sports, and - most famously - a culturally evolved lifestyle. In The Life and Time of the Nawabs of Lucknow, Ravi Bhatt depicts the life, history and culture of the Nawabs of Lucknow through over a hundred pithy, colourful anecdotes. Wily prime ministers, powerful begums, and eccentric chefs, this book is replete with little-known information, and, accompanied with beautiful illustrations, gives an interesting overview of the lives of the different Nawabs who gave the city its distinctive history and culture.

An eminent writer and columnist, Ravi Bhatt is visiting faculty at the University of Lucknow. His area of research is history, culture and the Nawabs of Lucknow. Currently he writes two weekly columns on the history of Nawabs: one in the Hindustan Times and the other in leading Hindi daily Dainik Jagran. His columns have also regularly appeared in the Time of India and the India Express.

Preface 9
An Overview 11
Palace Politics 15
The First Nawab's Last Decision 16
Saasat Khan's Successor 20
King for Three-and-a-half Hours 24
The Culture of Coins 26
The Fall of Nawab Wazir Ali 28
A Pawn becomes King 31
Why the Prime Minister was not Punished 34
The Minister-Maker 37
Unique Eunuchs of Awadh 40
What's in a Name? 42
Corruption in Haider's Court 43
Shia Ulama in Awadh 46
The Battle between a Mother and her Son 50
The Fight to Keep Awadh 53
Was Amjad Ali's Minister a Spy? 55
Palace to Rented House 57
The Nawab who did not Dance 60
The Truth behind the Nawab's Marriage 61
How the Nawabs were used as Pawns 62
Legal Action against the King 64
A Palace is turned into a Kennel 66
Art and Culture 69
Delhi's Loss is Lucknow's Gain 70
The Palace of Learning 73
The First Institute of Shia Theology 75
Underground Poetry Sittings in Lucknow 76
Schools of Art in Awadh 77
Popularisation of Classical Music 78
The Eccentric Singer of Lucknow 80
The Artist who refused to sing for the Nawab 82
Poets and Politics 83
Mirza Ghalib Joins a Debate 85
Poets who Ruled Awadh 86
The Art of Calligraphy 88
Begums 93
Procurement of Fairies 94
The Nawab's Daughter 100
The Chequered Life of Bahu Begum 102
A Fine for not spending the Night 106
Blind Love 107
Badsha Begum's Last Days 108
A Tawaif becomes a Queen 111
Iraq in the Heart of Lucknow 114
Bribes for a Begum 117
A Rags-to-Riches Story 119
The Nawab's English Wife 123
A Virgin Queen's Apartment 125
The Slave who Became Queen 127
A Punishment for a Prince 129
A Greengrocer's Daughter becomes Queen 131
How Royal Harems were managed 133
Prostitute Arrested for Opposing Marriage 135
A Lucknowi Soap Opera 137
The Faithful Alam Ara 139
How Wajid Ali Organised his Harem 141
The Dastardly Acts of the Nawabs 142
The Begum who Ruled Lucknow for a Year 146
The Romantic Life of Wajid Ali Shah 149
The Begums' Revenge 151
Life and Living in Lucknow 153
The Tawaifs of Lucknow 154
Cult of the Courtesans 156
The Nawab and the Djinns 159
The Bridegroom's Jewellery 161
Cockfights in Lucknow 163
Muslims Celebrated Holi, Hindus Observed Muharram 166
A Fatwa for Communal harmony 168
The Chef and the Prime Minister 170
A Chef's Pride is Hurt 172
Wajid Ali Shah Plays Lord Krishna 173
Did the King only Dance with the barber? 174
Pigeons and Parrots 176
The Great Storytellers 178
The Toots of Lucknow's Carefree Attitude 180
The Prince of Wales and the Nawab 182
A Courtesan for Ransom 183
The Banke of Lucknow 186
Lucknow's Darker Side 187
The Sport of Quail-Fighting 189
Why the Nawab Wanted to Kill his Son 191
La Martiniere 193
The Prince's Punishment 196
What Wine Meant to Different Nawabs 197
How Ghararas came to be worn in Lucknow 199
Beneficiaries of the Nawabs' Wealth 200
Maulvis in Lucknow 203
Why Lucknow's Kababs are so Soft 205
A Religious and Fashion Statement 207
Wajid Ali Shah's Premonition 209
How Chikan came to Lucknow 211
Hair as a Fashion Statement 213
Settling Scores in the Sky 214
Begging-a Big Business 216
Recreating Lucknow in Calcutta 217
Bibliography 219
Glossary 223
Index 227
Acknowledgements 244

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