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The Last Bungalow: Writings on Allahabad

The Last Bungalow: Writings on Allahabad


Item Code: IHL289

by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra

Paperback (Edition: 2007)

Penguin Books
ISBN 9780143101185

Size: 8.5 Inch X 5.5 Inch
Pages: 230
Price: $30.00
Discounted: $22.50   Shipping Free
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Located at the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and the invisible Saraswati, Allahabad, or ‘Godville’ - the ‘babu’ translation of the name that Mark Twain came across-has been frequented by pilgrims for two thousand years. However it was only towards the latter half of the nineteenth century that Allahabad shed its identity as another dusty north Indian town and emerged as one of the premier cities of the Raj and the capital of the North-West Provinces. This metamorphosis, ironically, was brought about by colonial rule, whose beginnings Fanny Parkes has described at great length. Allahabad was the home not only of the Pioneer, where Kipling was employed, but also of literary figures like Harivansh Rai Bachchan and Suryakant Tripathi ‘Nirala’. Its university, one of the oldest in the country, attracted students from far and wide. Visited by the Buddhist scholar Hsiuan Tsang in the seventh century, the city is today visited by spiritual con men and con women, as well as ordinary pilgrims, who come to attend the Magh and Kumbh Melas. As Kama Maclean’s essay shows, far from being an ancient religious festival, the Kumbh Mela, which is held every twelve years, originated as recently as the 1860s.

Colonial Allahabad, along with the intellectual energy that colonialism generated, has all but disappeared. The bungalows have gone, and so have the lat of those who inhabited them. Their descendants can only recall a lost time.

In 1824, Bishop Heber wrote that Allahabad was a ‘desolate and ruinous’ place. Three years later, Mirza Ghalib compared it to hell, only hell was better. But for Jawaharlal Nehru, Allahabad was where he was born and where he cut his political teeth; for Nayantara Sehgal, it was a model. For civilized living; for Ved Mehta, it was, like other Indian cities, ‘a jumble of British, Muslim, and Hindu influences’; for Saeed Jaffrey, it was a place where a good time could be had, while one picked up a decent education; for Gyanranjan, it was a city one could fall in love with in one’s youth; and for I. Allan Sealy, it was his parents’ home town, a reservoir of family lore.

The Last Bungalow: Writings on Allahabad is a memorial to a now forgotten city, whose rise was as meteoric as its fall.

Arvind Krishna Mehrotra was born in Lahore in 1947. He is the author of four books of poems, the most recent of which is The Transfiguring Places (1998), and one of translation, The Absent Traveller: Prakrit Love Poetry from the Gathasapatasathi (1991). His edited books include The Oxford India Anthology of Twelve Modern Indian Poets (1992) and An Illustrated History of Indian Literature in English (2003). He lives in Allahabad and Dehra Dun.

Back of the Book

Hsiuan Tsang Ralph Fitch Reginald Heber Ghalib Bahadur Singh Bhatnagar Fanny Parkes Matilda Spry Bholanauth Chunder Edmonia Hill Mark Twain David Lelyved Jawaharlal Nehru Harivansh Rai Bachchan Narmadeshwar Upadhyaya Amaranatha Jha Sudhir Kumar Rudra Rajeshwar Dayal Suryakant Tripathi ‘Nirala’ Nayantara Sehgal Kate Chisholm Saeed Jaffrey Esther Mary Lyons Ved Mehta Pankaj Mishra Kama Maclean Gyanranjan I. Allan Sealy Palash Krishna Mehrotra.


List of Illustrations x
Acknowledgements xi
A Note on the Selection xi
A Note on the Text xi
Descendants: An Introduction 1
Arvind Krishna Mehrotra
Hsiuan Tsang 32
from Buddhist Records of the Western World
Ralph Fitch 36
from Richard Hakluyt’s Principal Navigations, Voiages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation
Reginald Heber 38
from Narrative of a Journey Through the Upper Provinces of India from Calcutta to Bombay, 1824-25
Ghalib 46
‘A letter of grievance from my wanderings’
Bahadur Singh Bhatnagar 48
from Yadgar-i-Bahaduri
Fanny Parkes 50
from Wanderings of a Pilgrim
Matilda Spry 70
‘Our pretty bungalow is now a heap of ruins’
Bholanauth Chunder 78
from The Travels of a Hindoo to Various Parts of Bengal and Upper India
Rudyard Kipling 91
from Something of Myself
Edmonia Hill 96
‘The Young Kipling’
Mark Twain 113
from Following the Equator:
A Journey Around the World
David Lelyveld 119
‘Swaraj Bhavan and Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan’
Jawaharlal Nehru 128
from An Autobiography
Harivansh Rai Bachchan 134
from In the Afternoon of Time
Narmadeshwar Upadhyaya 149
from ‘Snippets from Memory’
Amaranatha Jha 154
from Sarojini Naidu: A Personal Homage
Sudhir Kumar Rudra 163
from ‘The Rudra Book’
Rajeshwar Dayal 172
from A Life of Our Times
Suryakant Tripathi ‘Nirala’ 180
‘Breaking Stones’
Nayantara Sahgal 183
from Prison and Chocolate Cake
Kate Chisholm 191
‘Best Bakery in Town’
Saeed Jaffrey 218
from An Actor’s Journey
Esther Mary Lyons 229
‘Railway Colony’
Ved Mehta 237
from Portrait of India
Arvind Krishna Mehrotra 245
‘Partial Recall’
‘The Roys’
Pankaj Mishra 270
from An End of Suffering
Kama Maclean 285
‘On the Modern Kumbh Mela’
Gyanranjan 307
‘Vagabond Nights’
I. Allan Sealy316
‘Three Gandhis’
Palash Krishna Mehrotra 321
‘Sex and the Small Town’
Permissions Acknowledgements 330
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