Lucknow: Literature and Culture


  • Syed Ali Hamid Retd. Professor of English Kumaun University Campus, Almora



Lucknow, Abdul Halim Sharar, Lakshman Teela, Bada Imambada, Guzishta Lakhnau.


To place Lucknow in today's context, I have attempted to analyse the city's literature and culture in this paper. The paper is divided into three sections: the first gives a brief history of Lucknow up to the end of the nawabi era, focusing on events relevant to this paper; the second discusses music, drama, and poetry, especially the Lucknow School of Urdu poetry, masnavi, and marsia; and the third examines Lucknow's culture from a modern perspective. In his well-known work Guzishta Lakhnau (Purana Lakhnau in Hindi), Abdul Halim Sharar dates the beginning of Lucknow to the period when Lord Ram returned from his banvas (exile in the forest) and assumed the throne of Ayodhya. He granted his brother Lakshman this land as a jagir (estate), and Lakshman erected his home on a rise next to the river that had a deep tunnel that was rumoured to go to Sheshnag (located on the track of Amarnath cave in Kashmir). Around this raised area, a tiny settlement called Lakshman Teela—the word "teela" refers to an elevated area—was established. The unique culture of Lucknow, its secularism, refined manners, etiquette and extreme politeness in conversation lingers on albeit in a diluted form, and it is easy to recognize a person from Lucknow by the way he/she speaks, the use of a blend of Hindi, Urdu and the local dialect Awadhi, often called Hindustani language, the use of ‘aap’ even when addressing children, and the plural ‘hum’ in place of the singular ‘mai’.


Works Cited:

Bhatt, Ravi. The Life and Times of the Nawabs of Lucknow. New Delhi: Rupa, 2006. Print.

Llewellyn-Jones, Rosie. A Fatal Friendship: The Nawabs, the British and the City of Lucknow. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1985. Print.

Petievich, Carla Rae. The Two School Theory of Urdu Literature. Web.

Sharar. Abdul Haleem. Purana Lakhnau (Guzishta Lakhnau) Tr. into Hindi by Nur Nabi Abbasi. New Delhi: National Book Trust, India, 1971. Print. Originally published serially (1887-1935) in Dil Gudaz, a magazine edited by Sharar himself. I have translated from Hindi to English for this Paper, hence only page numbers have been given.

Thornton, Bruce. “Melting Pots and Salad Bowls’ (2012). Web.

Note: Extracts from Urdu poetry have been taken from the website and have been translated by the author.




How to Cite

Syed Ali Hamid , translator. “Lucknow: Literature and Culture”. Creative Saplings, vol. 2, no. 1, Jan. 2023, pp. 1-14,

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