Mayan Ambition

Copyright © U. S. Pandey

Pharaohs had the vision to pile up the pyramids thousands of years ago.  Shah Jahan’s  flame of love bloomed out in Taj Mahal centuries back. Maya was moulding history at the dawn of the twenty-first century and the saga was far from over when she was plucked away from it. Her ambition was not small.

She loves to call them ‘Symbols of Change’ and there is no denying the truth that they have transformed the architectural visage of Lucknow. Unfortunately, the days of these fascinating structures could be numbered. The bulldozers of Yadava could be raring to raze them back to red dust.

Do have a peek at them while you still can. A nocturnal sojourn is highly recommended.

Copyright © U. S. Pandey

Old World Charm

Copyright © U. S. Pandey

Turkish Delight

Copyright © U. S. Pandey

The Portal of Lights

Copyright © U. S. Pandey

Call me Legion, for we are many!

Copyright © U. S. Pandey

Let there be Light!

Copyright © U. S. Pandey

The Famous Man


  1. speechless!! although I don’t understand photography but it’s been a while since i have viewed a photograph and mumbled ‘whoa!!’ thank you for sharing these breathtaking photographs!!

  2. Pretty much the same in Noida.. though they dont light up the “haathi park” now..

  3. Spectacular images from the Mayan Valley Civilization ! These monumental architectural marvels must be well preserved ( and especially protected from the fierce Yadava tribes) for the sake of posterity. Maybe some one should take up with concerned organization to get these included in the list of wonders of the modern world !

  4. Brilliant photographs, of a place clearly aimed at posterity and history books. And I kept thinking of a young girl coming in to Lucknow from a village where nothing has changed for her, and her wide eyed wanderings here…till reality strikes home.

    after a traumatic trip,
    atop a crowded train
    just before the
    Lucknow station.

    Belongings tied up
    with her hopes
    in a piece of cloth
    on her head
    she waits on the footpath,
    debating ,
    if it is to be her home.

    A long walk
    by a grandly lighted place,
    they tell her
    it is Prateek Sthal,
    a sign
    she is allowed
    to have aspirations now.

    Her eyes
    as wide
    as the diameter
    of the golden domes,
    she feels miniaturized
    in the presence
    of an armada of elephants,
    as she walks through.

    Someone pays obeisance
    to the statue of a pointing man
    and a lady with a purse,
    and she too
    does the same.

    Shuffling through crowds,
    she hears
    someone say
    that there is a plan
    to flatten the place with bulldozers.

    Like her life and her mind,
    by the wheels of
    patriarchal tradition.
    No edutaion,
    in a school
    with a commemorative plaque
    no simple sanitary conveniences for women,
    and so she stays home
    to keep away from prying eyes.

    Really ,
    nothing has changed.
    “B”SP has changed to SP.
    For her,
    its a question of
    To B or not to B

    1. Suranga, you have immortalised my post by writing the real story behind the images! Indeed, nothing has changed for whom the bell tolls!

  5. Never knew pictures at night could be taken so beautifully. For people like me, you have shown Lucknow..:) I always keep telling my husband about how beautifully you write and just read aloud your profile description to him. And here you get another compliment from him: “This guy is no ordinary”.

  6. It’s been a long time since I went to Lucknow. I have heard that the landscape has transformed immensely. I guess political tit-for-tat is common in India. And, her haathis will always remind me of the colossal waste of resources. Pics are fabulous. Do they look a bit hazy or am I imagining things? When I read the title, I braced myself for a historic post :). Looks like the photographer fought his way through the banker ;-).

    1. Except for the image ‘Let there be light’ where a haze hung in the lit up sky, rest of the images are clear enough. When faced with an extreme range of shadows and brightness, you have to choose the elements you wish to expose for and what you want to keep in focus. That said, image compression by WordPress is nothing to write home about. Lastly, you may need to recalibrate your minitor! 😀

        1. You are so kind!
          You’ll get that feeling whenever the structures are flooded with light. If one were to expose for the light, he’ll get very black shadows.

  7. Awesome photography and well written .. Yes I agree the force of Yadavas is going strong these day !:) I see a bit of Mayan Legacy everyday on my way to work in Noida and it leaves me fuming !

    1. Many thanks, Ruchira. But then I’ve hardly written anything. The camera remains unbothered with the Mayas and Yadavas of this world. It is only the beauty of these structures that impresses its sensor.

  8. I had never seen the haathis. During election time the only time that I did see them, they were covered. This place is really as awesome as the pictures or its your photographic skill?? 🙂

  9. Behenji has given way to bhabhiji …..who rules unopposed. The pics are awesome….my Lucknow looks better than Delhi.

  10. Lucknow vies with the best of the world with such fabulous structures. But all I could see beneath the glitz was what you have portrayed. Indeed, nothing has changed and things are worse, because if these structures guzzled scarce power when the ‘sister’ was in power, now the destruction is going to drain manpower and other resources. God save the country. You have skilfully combined the pen and the camera and hope to see more of these.

    1. Yes, they are among the best on the earth today. What you have said is all so true, but for the night, it was only the photographic opportunity that had consumed me.

  11. If pictures speak thousand words then this be it. The banker has found his way out of those dreaded debris of taxes.
    I had not imagined lucknow to be so beautiful. Thanks for your photographic passion sir.

  12. Probably it will be as much of a futile act to demolish these buildings as it was to construct them….personally, I will not be sorry at all to see them razed to ground….what a monumental waste of OUR money….nevertheless, beautiful photographs, your camera is as eloquent as your pen

    1. Why should we stress ourselves with the demolisher’s dilemma, assuming he has any? For the moment, these structures are enchanting enough. Many thanks to you!

  13. The word Maya -i wish it had been about the Mayan civilization-but this too is an enlightenment…what stupendous structures,and i see no artistry in them…the art is only in your photography…what a colossal waste of resources…are there no homeless in lucknow for whom houses could have been built?

    1. I’d love to write on the original Mayan civilisation someday. The present day Maya could be bad dream, after all! I feel honoured by your kind words.

  14. Breathtaking photographs. You seem to be an expert in night photography. The colors are just ethereal.

    1. Thank you, TF. Photography is an obsession with me all right. Except that it gets subdued by my livelihood needs and the passion for writing.

  15. This is a visual treat. Honest!
    We demand more, USP. 🙂
    Beautiful structures. Awesome shots. You use your weapon exceptionally well.

  16. New light on Maya’s madness!

    You have captured them well … done justice with your images; but has she done the same to the people of U.P.

  17. These clicks are awesome. Heard and seen Maya ki maya in media so many times but never in this light. Very impressive. For me Lucknow is always about Residency, Chowk, Chotta/bada Imambara, Chowdhury ki chaat (don’t know if it still exists), Faluda Kulfi. You got me all nostalgic , I have not been to Lucknow for more than fifteen years now.Have you done any post on Residency?

  18. Many thanks, Kavita! Indeed, Lucknow is still better known for Residency, Chotta/Bada Imambara, Chinhat at al. The Chaat and Kulfi-Faluda still rule the taste buds of the city. Maya’s structures just barged into the topography of the city amidst questionable intentions.

    I have been perennially planning to write a detailed post on the Residency for some time now. All I have managed to write though is merely a paragraph in the short story Going Blind. I partly blame the virulent ASI staff also who shoo away the tripod carrying photographers. It is not that one cannot go ahead without the tripods but they do upset the plan.

  19. If this is dedicated to Dalit leaders how come there are no protests being made over plans to raze it. Normally, such demolitions are fodder for jingoistic speeches for months, if not years. Beautiful pictures…

    1. अरे हम पहले जाने होते तो दू चार फोटू और चफना दिए होते ! 😀

    1. Pradip da, I am humbled by your compliment. There are many who play hauntingly beautiful tunes with their cameras. However, I am still a bystander on the shores of photography.

  20. a picture speaks more than million words….
    and such images prove that right 🙂

    immortal memories and emotions are encrypted within them.. awesome snaps !!!
    can stare for hours 😛

  21. Wow… such brilliant captures. Outstanding photography filled my heart with delight. I hope these monuments stay and radiate beauty for ever. And you have done your part by immortalizing them through your priceless captures. And loved your short introduction. Was sublime.

  22. When I read the title of your post I thought it was about the Mayan civilization. But after having seen and read your post, just one comment: Superb pics and superb title for the post. 🙂

  23. Beautiful photography!!! The first time I saw the photos, felt like I was transported to some old …………bygone era….

  24. Uma Shankarji, been on your page after a long time. selected this blog due to the uniqueness of its title 🙂 and it was truly a unique title. 🙂 nice clicks that you have done being behind the lens 🙂 like the goldennnesss of the clicks 🙂 🙂

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