Although many people believe that Lucknow's finest period was during the time of the nawabs, its history did not begin in 1775 when the court of Awadh returned to Lucknow permanently, any more than it finished in 1856 when the last nawab Wajid Ali Shah travelled into exile and Lucknow presented the picture of a looted city. Pre-nawabi Lucknow was a flourishing city that lay mainly to the south of the Gomti with several Mughal structures along the river. Under the nawabs the city became synonymous with extravagance, the creative arts and patronage of artists, and extraordinary buildings. It went on to become a battleground between the East India Company and opponents of British rule. After 1858, the British reorganized Lucknow and some of the finest architects were commissioned to build here. The city became known for its fine educational institutions. Today, once again it is a city in transition, with a move away from the old city into the new suburbs.
"The last twenty years have seen an enormous amount of research and writing about the many-faceted city which has something for everyone - the historian, the artist, the photographer, the social anthropologist. The present volume focuses on less well-known aspects of Lucknow life and history - the present-day attraction of this city in transition, the bazaars with delectable foods to tempt the palate, the craftspeople who even today create delicate works of art; the architecture, from imambaras and karbalas to Victorian, Edwardian, and modernist structures, and educational institutions including the legacy of Claude Martin; and the charm of 18 and 19 century Faizabad and Lucknow preserved in paintings and photographs. Thus, in three sections - the living city, secular and religious institutions, and the visual arts - the chapters present a lively range of subjects, some of which will be enlightening even for those who live in Lucknow.