Lucknow‘s history has been confined to Nawabi era: Lalji Tandon

‘Ankaha Lucknow’ – a book in which BJP veteran Lalji Tandon goes on to accuse the Muhgals of destroying the historical Lakshman Teela as well as the present day politicians for wiping out the name of Lakshman by naming the place Teele Wali Masjid, has created a storm in the political circles. Tandon talks to Anupam Srivastava about the controversy and Lucknow’s rich culture and heritage.

What do you have to say about the controversy?

I have not written anything controversial in my book. Whatever I have written is based on facts. I’m not a historian, have written the book only in the capacity of a Lucknowite. But tell me, have historians done justice to the glorious past of Awadh or Lucknow? Don’t you think they have confined the history of Lucknow to 100 years of Nawabi rule. It’s unfortunate for a city that has a glorious past of 7,000 years. My book has only brought out the truth.

What is wrong if the Nawabi era is talked about more than Lakshman by historians?

I don’t want to create any controversy through my book but I will not shy away from telling the truth. I have always called spade a spade. The historians have only focused on Nawabs, their wives and sons, lavish lifestyle, food and dresses. Has anyone highlighted the common man’s plight during that era? Has anyone highlighted how many buildings of the Vedic era, Kushan era and Maurya era were destroyed? Has anyone talked about the temples of Awadh or its cuisine that includes more than 1,000 types of sweets, 20 kind of ‘laddoos’, ‘rabri’, ‘malai’? The writers limited the cuisine to a few types of kebabs and biryani, but they never talked about the real taste of Awadh.

Then what you have tried to convey through your book?

I have highlighted the real culture, cuisine and traditions of Awadh. I have talked about the culture from the era of Lord Ram to Wajid Ali Shah. Puranas were written in Neemsar while Tulsidas wrote Ramayan in Awadh. This is the place where Sufism was born. Qawwali is always in Awadhi and the art form was born here.

What according to you is the best thing about Lucknow’s culture?

When I see politicians dividing the society on the basis of caste I feel sad. Lucknow has never seen casteism. The city has always witnessed communal harmony between Hindus and Muslims. Secularism runs in the blood of Lucknowites so no one should teach us about the same.

What makes Lucknow different from other cities?

Lucknowites don’t believe in communalism and casteism; they only believe in professionalism. Today, you say Lucknow has become a hub of medical tourism, but people used to come here for treatment in the past also. There were establishments of ‘vaids’ and ‘hakeems’ around Akbari Gate where people used to come and stay for treatment. Lucknow still has Abdul Aziz road named after a popular hakeem, Kalli ji road after a hakim with the same name. Vaidya Madhukar Shastri and Vaidya Shyamji were also famous for their treatment all over the country.