Dadu Aur Madak

Lucknow is the capital of Uttar Pradesh and would be the last big town before we headed into Nepal. There was an Enfield dealer there and Karen's bike had developed a noise in the primary that turned out to be an oil seal. We had decided to go through Lucknow also because it had a Citibank. Lucknow is best known for having been ruled by the Nawabs for a 100 year period ending in 1857. They were famous for their monumental architecture, and the older part of the city has many huge gates as well as fabulous tombs. It is predominantly Muslim, and the Enfield service place was in the old section near the Jamma Masjid Mosque.

In the area between these two gates, through which local traffic passes is the Husseinabad Imambara (below). It contains the tomb of Mohammed Ali Shah and his mother.

We ducked into a doorway to get out of the rain, and encountered a gentleman named Akas who worked for the Archaeological project that was doing the restoration on some of the gates in the old city. You'll note that both of these gates bear the symbol of two fishes, the symbol of the Nawabs. The one on the right is the gateway to the Bara Imambara (below), the largest of the tombs in Lucknow. Akas explained that it was built in the 1780s during a severe famine to provide work for the Nawab's subjects.

The Second Siege of Lucknow
Lucknow's other famous site is known as The Residency. It is a huge compound built by the Nawab in 1800 for the British Resident. It is famous for a siege that took place in 1857 known by the Indians as the First War of Independence. Our bike was ready, but it had rained all night and continued into the morning, so we decided to stay another day. We took a cab over to visit this site, and were greeted at the gate by a gang of newsmen. We weren't quite sure why they were interested in us, but India had won the World Cup in cricket the night before and the streets had been full of people celebrating until the wee hours, and we initially thought they were there because of that. But then they started to ask if we were there to honor our ancestors.  I told them no, my ancestors were from Italy, and I congratulated them on India's win. We excused ourselves and began heading for the gate. the news people raced ahead of us so they could get footage of us entering the gate. They were met with hostility by the Residency staff who angrily barred them from entering.

Most of the buildings still bear the marks of the bullets and cannonballs (left). The basement of what is now the museum (right) is where many of the nearly 3000 people held out for a siege that lasted 147 days. That siege had ended on September 25th 1857--today's date. We were barely in the museum for five minutes when the staff began bolting the huge doors and ordered us into the basement. It seems that a British delegation that included descendants of the British Resident had arrived in Lucknow the night before to honor those people, as they have been doing for many years. However, this being the Sesquicentennial anniversary of that event they had been met at the airport by a small group of angry protesters that resented their presence. Some reports said they had mud thrown at them. Now it becomes obvious that we had been mistaken for British. After about an hour in the museum basement they let us out to find that there were about 20 uniformed soldiers there, and the large entrance gate had been barred. There actually had been no protesters there, but the staff was afraid the media's presence might attract a crowd. They apologized to us, and escorted us out an employees gate at my request, where we took a rickshaw back to our room. We were kind of surprised when later that evening the desk called our room and said that there were to men from the government who wanted to speak with us. They only had sketchy details of the incident and wanted to be sure we hadn't been harmed or threatened in any way. We told them no, that we knew it was just a misunderstanding, but I wanted to know how they knew what hotel we were at. It turns out they were from Indian Intelligence, and said that every hotel must submit the passport numbers of every foreign visitor every day. Before they were satisfied that we were all right, they called their supervisor who they said wanted to talk to me. He wanted to know when we were leaving, how we were traveling, and if he could provide us with an escort. I told him that was absolutely unnecessary. At least we can say our trip hasn't been boring.