Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Ruins in towns of Northern India: Dilapidated structures tell tale of migration from North India after partition

Ruins of a palatial house in Kakori in Lucknow

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Where else can you find such ruins [khanD-har], other than Uttar Pradesh [UP]?.

A large number of people had left Uttar Pradesh in the aftermath of partition just like Hindus and Sikhs arrived from Pakistan.

Hundreds of towns [not the Cities but towns--those with population of 5,000 to 50,000 and even more] witnessed migration.

The 'qasbahs' of Awadh are unique. They have historically been centres of art, culture, poetry and a lifestyle that different from urban centres, as well as rural pockets. The architecture was not documented. Those who went, often returned, to have a look at their ancestral houses and went back. The generation that was born after 80s, even lost that emotional touch.

Many of these structures were pulled down, occupied, dismantled or renovated. Nearly six decades after partition, several such ruins still dot the landscapes in most towns. Nostalgia fills those who return to their roots from US, Pakistan and other countries just to have a look at their dilapidated houses.

After all, few relatives are left. The new generation of people who were left here do not understand the relationships well. The same is true for second and third generation of muhajirs in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad.

Inhabitants gone for ever: How long the pillars stand?
ug rahaa hai dar-o-diivaar pe sabzaa Ghalib
hum pardes meN haiN ghar par bahaar aaii hai

With tears in their eyes they go back. The structures wait for their inhabitants but they were gone for ever.

Like a poet once said:

'Yeh to makaan hai jis mein qayaam hai yaaro
Gghar to voh hai jise barsoN pahle chhoR aaye haiN'

To understand the feeling, you may read the famous Nazm 'Muhajir-nama' written by Munawwar Rana in Roman, Urdu and Hindi scripts here
NOTE: It is not that there are just ruins. Lot of people remained and several such structures exist, stand firm. Change is the law of the nature, and even without a cataclysmic event, places change with time.