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Mapping the monuments: Abdullah Ramzi Khan's book on heritage spread across Lucknow and Awadh

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Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

LUCKNOW: It's the heart of India and has been a witness to major events over centuries.

Awadh and the adjoining areas, the city of Lucknow and the numerous qasbahs that dot the landscape, have a rich history dating back to the era of the Nawabs and even earlier--the Sultanate era.

Unfortunately, the region and its monuments get much less attention, despite the fact that Lucknow is situated in heartland and is known across the world for it's history and heritage.

It took an advocate with a passion for heritage and history, Abdullah Ramzi Khan to take upon himself the task to criss-cross the region and document the numerous structures. The result is in the form of the book 'The Known and the Unknown monuments, places and persons of Awadh'.

It brings to readers information about gates and wells, temples and tombs, baradaris and baolis, mosques and mausoleums, ponds and palaces, churches and cemeteries and lives of famous personalities. It's a unique book in the sense that it brings together enormous information about heritage in the region, but also brings to us pieces of history, information and such anecdotes that are important in understanding the era.

While it deals at length with buildings in Lucknow, the palaces built during the reign of Nawabs, the important part is the focus on lesser known structures in towns. He visits Behta and Malihabad, Mohaan and Itaunja, digs information about the ancient buildings and gives the reader a virtual tour to these places. 

From the madarsa for djinns to the town known for Mataria's barfi, Abdullah Ramzi Khan, has an eye for detail as he captures the places--noting down inscriptions, taking photographs of the plaques. An important part of the book is the large number of photographs. Apart from the places and palaces, there are personalities. 

Not just Nawabs, but British officials and Talluqedars, Courtesans and Revolutionaries. From Begum Hazrat Mahal to Azimullah Khan and Faqir Mohamamd Khan 'Goya' to Asrarul Haque Majaz, he has brought together tremendous information along with tidbits and the illustrations. The book is a must for anyone who is interested in heritage, along with the culture and history of Lucknow. The New Royal Book Company has published this thick volume that runs into 450 pages.