October 26 - Lucknow sightseeing & Deeputsav at Ayodhya
Thanks to the Yamuna-Expressway I reached Lucknow by 5.30. Freshening-up in a really smelly and overcrowded public restroom took another hour. I did not book a hotel at Lucknow as I was to travel to Ayodhya that very afternoon. I took a tuk-tuk from Alambagh ISBT to Charbagh. From Charbagh I took another auto-rickshaw to Bada-Imambada.
Bada-Imambada and the Rumi-Darwaza happen to be two of the most splendid monuments in Lucknow and are really close to each other. When I saw Rumi -Darwaza for the first time I was stunned by its aura. At midday, not less imposing, Rumi-Darwaza can pass-off for an ordinary looking structure. It really is about the context in which you see it. I've heard it looks beautiful at evening when the lights are on. I'm not a big fan of artificial lights, so I chose morning.
Rumi Darwaza in the morning was nothing short of magical. I walked towards it and this huge imposing structure seemed to grow up on me. The golden rays of the sun peeped from behind the three archways oozing warmth in the October morning. The passing traffic made this odd, almost ill-placed structure, seemingly frozen in time, look dramatically relevant.
Rumi Darwaza leads the way to an equally impressive Bada-Imambada. It is an architectural marvel. The tomb of Asaf-ud-Daula is 15 meters tall and is built without any supporting beams.
The Bhool-Bhulaiya built atop the tomb of Asaf-ud-Daula is equally impressive and a little intimidating. Since I was the first one to reach the monument, I ended-up being alone in this labyrinth for hours. It was fun and it is not possible to truly explore this place without actually getting a little-lost. Actually, getting lost is the best part. To add my two cents, you must experience this without a guide at-least once.
After this I went to the Clock-Tower, the Picture Gallery and the Shahi Hamam at Chota-Imambara. I spent some-time listening to Koran recital at the masjid before leaving for British Residency.
British Residency was built as a Residence for the British General in the 19th Century. The walls of the structure are still scarred by bullet and canon holes.
After the Residency I went to Poly-technique where I boarded a bus for Ayodhya. I reached Ayodhya in about two and a half hours. I had to go to Nayaghat where the Deeputsav was to take place. Nayaghat was about 5-6 kilometers away from where the bus dropped me. I hitchhiked the remaining distance.
Deeputsav was unlike anything I have experienced before. About 4 lakh diyas were lit at Nayaghat. Getting to the Bank of the Saryu River was difficult because of the crowd. I jumped three walls to get there. Not that I would recommend anybody to do that - just saying, you know. I spent about 2 hours at the ghat just sitting there. I also managed to relight a lot of diyas. After that I went back to my dharamshala which I had managed to get for INR 200 for 24 hours.