In 1528 the Mughal Sultanate conquered and formally incorporated Awadh as one of its constituent provinces. With the decline of Mughal power the nawab-vazirs of Awadh began to assert their independence. After the East India Company appropriated half of Awadh as 'indenmity', the then nawab, Asaf'ud Daulah, moved his capital to Lucknow in 1775. A move that resulted in the growth of the city and its distinctive culture known as'Lakhnavi tehzeeb'.
Since then, nawabi Lucknow has undergone enormous changes. The refinement of 'pehle aap' has all but disappeared. Originally built to support a hundred thousand people, amid palaces, gardens and orchards, the city now staggers under the burden of fifty times that number. Its unchecked growth and collapsed civic amenities are slowly draining the life and beauty of this once vibrant city.
The rich and flamboyant culture has faded amidst the decay that has eaten into the fabric of the city and the corruption and treachery that permeate the government. In separate pieces William Dalrymple and Barry Bearak trace the decline of Lucknow---the city, its architecture, people, politics, governance---and the sad end of the havelis and their once grandiose occupants. The elegiac Marsia tradition of the Shias strives to be heard over angry chants of 'Hulla Bol' of political rallies in Mrinal Pande's account of her visit to the city. And, in his hyperbolic saga of seven generations of the fictional Anglo-Indian Trotter family, I. Allan Sealy meanders through two hundred years of Lucknow's chequered history.
However, despite the apparent disintegration, Lucknow's ineffable spirit can still be found---in the tantalizing flavours of Lakhnavi cuisine; the delicate artistry of chikankari; the legendary courtesans and the defiant voice of the rekhti; the melodious notes of the ghazaI and the thumri ...
Engaging and thoughtful, Shaam-e-Awadh: Writings on Lucknow celebrates the unique character of this city of carnivals and calamities.