It was one of those early summer days and yours truly had a day out at the famed Oudh City of Lucknow. Flanked and guided by three youngsters who shared the lust for keeping company while also showing the splendour of the city they dwell in, we weaved our way to what they termed as "BhoolBhulaiya". Mocking in jest as to whether they wished to lose yours truly forever in the maze, we entered the complex which greeted us with the green lawns and a spectacular pathway which led to a structure which is revered as the Bada Imambada. We were enlightened that this was a structure which resembled an Imambada located in Iraq and was constructed by a Nawab whose mortal remains lay interred in the very structure. Legend has it that it was built by the day for over 11 years to ensure that people did not starve nor forgot their work culture - so different from the present day solatiums and compensation disputes. The most refreshing thing was that the name of the architect and structural engineer is also known to be the awe inspiring Khilafat who if one could have it could be a good mentor to the scores of civil engineers and architects manufactured in the country year on year.
The above is a bird's eye view while the sketch below will take you to the ethereal world of the Nawab Asaf ud Daula with the tomb at the centre.
Constructed on a vacuum technology of building ventilating windows to support the largest arched roof with no beam or pillar to support it.
The depressions created in the roof to act as an acoustic system enthralled a person who is basically not of scientific temper as this was designed in the eighteenth century while we are unable to construct bridges which hold for a decade with all the scams to the boot.
Before taking us to the maze, we were ushered into the Chinese Hall, the Persian Hall and the Indian Hall which were probably a tribute to contemporary architectural styles though the guides have different stories to tell. Leading us to the popular maze of corridors which were to take us to the top most floor we were repeatedly asked to keep to either the left or the right.
The curiosity in the cat never dies and deceptively we gingerly went to the other side to see through the opening and realized the warning was true as the fall therefrom would at least render some of the bones futile if not damage our existence forever. The beauty of the structure was that the corridors provided the much needed respite from the heat outside and provided a natural air conditioning effect. So much for the corporates who manufacture these gadgets on western technology.
To sink this undisputed fact into our earthy heads, we were led to the terrace after a fantastic view from one of these windows to test our barren feet on the heated exterior of the terrace. This made us realize that the technology of the bricks which were said to be made from various products such as coal, sugarcane etc is truly remarkable. The time has come for us to use this very technology to build our havens rather than go for the concrete hollow bricks which bake us in summer and sends shivers down the spine in winters. Probably the cost of these bricks would also be much lesser than what is manufactured today with lesser pollution from limestone based cement.
After spending over two hours we were led towards another stairway which after probably two flights of descending one has to ascend to get out of the structure. A marvel for visitors. What a vision and what precise execution! It is time the remains of Miyan Khilafat and his labour force are also celebrated.
The descent did not end the marvel. It led us to another wonderful well. A sheet of water which provides a clear reflection which can be viewed from the other side. As we exited the structure and our cab driver was ready to take us to the next stop, yours truly was truly stung, humbled and reprimanded beyond words by the makers of this structure. We look for accolades for small routine tasks. We look forward to place our names on plaques. Here are many of them who bravely fought a drought, built a structure and made it a place which can generate funds over centuries to feed and clothe the poor over two centuries. Is doffing our hats sufficient? The answer is a resounding "NO". We need to pull our socks forget the need for accolades and credits while we leave a remarkable legacy behind.
Through this blog yours truly thanks the youngsters to have shown me a new way of life and credit them for the first pic while the other two are picked from the net. Due apologies for not placing there identities on record. Wondering whether EPS or OPS could take a leaf out of this for the drought hit farmers of the Southern state of Tamil Nadu - with no offence meant.