Evolution of the Indian state Uttar Pradesh.
Evolution of the City LucknowLucknow, which is also known as the city of Nawabs is the eleventh most populous city in India 1 and the capital of the Indian state Uttar Pradesh. The city stands in the middle of Indus-Gangetic plain at the height of 123m above sea level and Gomti river cuts across the city dividing it into Trans-Gomti and Cis-Gomti regions.Though the history of Lucknow dates back to 1033 CE, the city finds itself first mentioned in the written records dating back to 1325 CE (Ibn Batuta’s Safarnama/travelogue during the reign of Mohammad Bin Thuglaq) when it was known by the name ‘Lahknoo’2 while the oldest built structures date back to the period of Aurangzeb between 1658-1707CE when it became a part of the Awadh province, after the disintegration of the Delhi Sultanate. It was a trade and business center and was also the biggest supplier of wheat, rice and fodder in the region and the famed Chowk market (CBD) formed its core which also catered to the daily needs of the people.Rapid changes occurred after the reign of the third Nawab when Lucknow became the capital of the Awadh province. The Nawabs were known for their extravagant lifestyle and were patrons of arts, dance and drama. Various monuments and manicured gardens were also built by them between 1755CE to 1842 CE and the same were developed to the south of the Gomti river away from the dense market settlement. The Urban morphology was influenced by the Islamic planning principles where the Mosque occupies the vantage position in the city with dense markets and residential quarters around it and the rulers occupied a sprawling palace with a citadel like feature (Kaiser Bagh palace in this case) and organic streets connecting all of the above.Lucknow was a vassal state of British between 1801CE and 1857CE after which the British took complete control over the province. During this period, the supremacy of the British propelled them to establish the Hazratganj market that served the needs of he British gentry. Meanwhile, Nawab Aminudullah who owned large swaths of land developed Aminadbad 3 on the outskirts of the city which became a commercial and residential hub with four gates surrounding it where each gate had an adjoining mosque. The Aminadad market served the locals along with the chowk market.The rule of the British drastically changed the morphology of the town as they built 7 broad roads cutting through the heart of the city and decongested the older areas by introducing green spaces which included the demolition of most buildings along the corridor except few prominent ones (illustration 1) . The British also built a large cantonment (which had churches, hospitals, race courses, barracks etc.) in the South Eastern part of the town along with cemeteries and jails along the edges expanding the city. While the railway line separated the cantonment from main settlement in the South, the Gomti river separated the newer developments in the trans-Gomti region.Illustration 1The Post British period saw the development of the town near the railway station in the cis-Gomti region. A shift can be observed in the grain of the city in the Lucknow Development Authority (LDA) designed colonies in the sub-urban areas of Lucknow bordering the large swathes of cantonment area which circumscribed the expansion of the city in the cis-Gomti region. The same can also be observed in the Gomtinagar locality (illustration 2) on the Northern banks of the river Gomti which together with Gomtinagar extension are the largest planned townships in India. The colonies are based on the ‘maximum open space concept’ with a large number of plots facing open spaces. It also closely resembles the neighborhood unit of Chandigarh with each sector having its own share of open spaces and around which the residential units are centered. (Interestingly, Patrick Geddes in his report to the Municipal Council of Lucknow had recommended a park system in the city) – Town Planning in Lucknow – A report to the Municipal council by Patrick GeddesIllustration 2 Illustration 3It can also be observed that, the previously uninhabited outlying areas of Lucknow have now developed into planned townships (Peri-Urban) with geometric streets and gardens. These townships are largely self-sustaining and have malls, numerous apartments, villas, office spaces and MSME’s with the freeways and nearby airports as the driving factors for the establishment of these townships far away from the city’s congested network of organic streets. The above phenomenon can be related to the concept of “Edge Cities” 4 as they’re concentrated around the fringe of the city (illustration 4 and 5).Illustration 1A blow up of a street plan from 1901 showing Victoria Street and Canning road built by the British (shaded) cutting through the Organic streets of LucknowIt is interesting to note that the exercise of introducing new streets by the British to connect various parts of the city to the British residency which housed the British Resident General can be compared with linking of New Crown estate with the administrative seat at Westminster in England by Josh Nash in the 19th century except for the fact that the sensitivity shown in the design of Regent street wasn’t applied in Lucknow.Illustration 2: A schematic plan showing the Gomtinagar locality colony in the Trans-Gomti Region based on “maximum open space concept”Illustration 3 A schematic plan showing the LDA colony in the Cis-Gomti aRegion.Illustration 4 Illustration 5Through the above observations, it can be inferred that the city developed through different ages and were guided by different economic and political triggers at different times which forms a heterogenous fabric with a diverse cultural and morphological feature and is a combination of different ecological models.Thus, The Urban Realms model describe the city most appropriately as each realm is independent of the other but are connected to form a huge urban city (James E. Vance Jr,1960). The CBD is also losing its importance as the city is shifting towards manufacturing and IT-BT sector served through multiple edge cities on the periphery of the congested main city connected by elevated flyovers, highways and metro lines. The airport on the outskirts of the city with connecting metro lines and a proposed 150-meter wide outer ring road has accelerated growth towards the southern part and a major shift in the street patterns and the morphology can be observed as one travels from the core of the city to the newer developments.With Lucknow being selected as a smart city 5 and the government keen of making it an industrial and IT hub to rival metropolitan cities like Delhi and Mumbai through multiple schemes and visions which also emphasizes on preserving its past 6, It’s likely that there will be major changes that will impact its growth trajectory and change the way the city is seen and perceived.