I am from Azamgarh

Picture Credits : India Rail Info

Picture Credits : India Rail Info

If you ask me, which city in India I belong to, I will not give you a one-word answer. Try that when you meet me next time and you will know what I mean. My response usually is,

“Ummm, so I am from far East UP. Have you heard of Varanasi? My place is around 100 kilometers from there. AZAMGARH.”

Don’t get me wrong. I am not ashamed of the city I come from but most people I have met in Bangalore, Nagpur, Mumbai, Noida or otherwise haven’t heard of the city or they are not as interested in India’s political map as I am. So I start with the region, locate for them the nearest famous city (Varanasi, Lucknow, Allahabad, Kanpur etc.) and then talk about Azamgarh.

The FB post that once invited a lot of conversation

The FB post that once invited a lot of conversation

Azamgarh seems to be always in the limelight. Unfortunately, for wrong reasons and that is why there have been instances where in interviews, I have been asked to defend my city. Just for the record, I have done that successfully every single time. When I came to Azamgarh, I was 8 months new in the world. Since then this city has been my home. My parents are still there and that association will stay. I grew up in Azamgarh and stayed there for first 17 years of my life. The city has given me a lot of things – and all that falls under a big umbrella of love and care. Even if there was a way to change and do things differently, I would stay put with my school and friends. Some of whom I am still in touch and we meet.

But then, I wonder why Azamgarh was caught in the wrong light? Which city hasn’t got some notorious folks who were born there? Which city is home to only good (wo)men? It’s always a mixed bag so why all this fuss about Azamgarh? Why do people fall trap to stereotypes? Why is there a communal bias? And if there is a so-called funding, what is law and order for? Who should keep a vigil? Who takes bribe and pushes cases under the carpet? Who beats up an innocent 17-year-old, makes him admit that he was involved in a case and then claims of a successful encounter?

When IndiSpire Edition #88 asked us to write about a city that is close to us, I thought of sharing a few things about Azamgarh that make it unique and special. Things that you may not have heard a politician speaking on TV. Things that you probably never knew.

  • Azamgarh is 350 years old (as of today) and named after founder Azam, son of Vikramajit who was a descendant of Gautam Rajputs of Mehnagar and had embraced Islam. Talk of respect towards all religion.
  • A small bridge was built in the city by Sher Shah Suri over 100 years ago represents its cultural heritage.
  • Birth place of Kaifi Azmi – famous poet who brought Urdu literature to India Cinema. His poetry and personality is unmatched today too.
  • Birth place of Rahul Sankrityayan – Father of Hindi Travel literature, he was one of the most widely travelled scholars of India.
  • Birth place of Shibli Nomani – A versatile scholar in Arabic, Persian, Hindi, Turkish and Urdu and founder of Shibli National College and the Darul Mussanifin.
  • Benarasi Sarees – No they are not done in Varanasi but Mubarakpur, a small town in the district of Azamgarh. The weavers there are not so well-known but their work is known all over the world.
  • Nizamabad’s Black Pottery – Signifying the focus on art.
  • Facts from 2011 Census
    • A sex ratio of 1019 –India stands at 943
    • Literacy of 70%

And know that this is not an all-inclusive list. There are so many other things that make Azamgarh unique. The many educational institutions, the religious places – temples, mosques and churches, the shopping opportunities from the very talented weavers and what not.

So when I hold back before saying where I come from, sometimes I am scared of being judged for what my city doesn’t stand for. So what if it is not a well-known city but it has made me who I am today. I want to ask people to not judge a book by its cover. I want  to ask people to not label us into who we are not. Look at what the city has been contributing positively and think of what better can be done. Think of why UP needs help and not just Azamgarh.

I am from Azamgarh and that will never change.

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  11. فخر ہے مجھ کو اعظمی ہوں میں
    میرا برقی وطن ہے اعظم گڈھ
    A well written informative & commendable article about my home town , Azmgarh, a great centre of learning and a symble of peace full co-existence. & our rich composite Cultural Heritage.
    Courtesy :happinessandfood.com
    Dr.Ahmad Ali Barqi Azmi
    Ahmad Ali Barqi Azmi recently posted…Dr.Barqi Azmi: A Great Poet Of Our Times : Dr. Syeda Imrana Nashtar KhairabadiMy Profile

  12. Superb Thoughts. I’m from Azamgarh & will always cherish my city. Obviously it hurts when someone say bad things about my city, but I would advice such people to overcome their ignorance.
    One more thing I would like to share about Azamgarh
    it was one of the most prominent centre of revolts in 1857 & 1942

  13. It was so amazing to read about your city! We definitely need to get rid of all kinds of stereotypes.
    I could relate to this post on another note as well: I belong to this town called Kannur in north Kerala – which, is notorious for bombs. It’s sad, really, because once the people of Kannur were known as the most peaceful people in Kerala, but now everyone looks at us with suspicion and mistrust. I did my engineering in Cochin, where, among a plethora of bad experiences, people often asked me if there was a bomb in my bag, none too good-humouredly. I was more or less new to Kerala at the time, and I could not grasp why there was so much hate against my little hometown. Sure, I knew there were some incidents, but I assumed that happened everywhere. Not that “happening everywhere” normalizes it, but the stereotyping and even the teachers asking if they could check my bag for bombs was, let’s say, unpleasant.
    I envy you though, I don’t know so much history about Kannur, as you know about Azamgarh! *makes a point to learn*
    Sreesha recently posted…Relationship Status: It’s Complicated, With OnionsMy Profile

    • Thanks Sreesha. I am glad you stopped by to share your thoughts. Your experience was seriously not a good one. I would have felt super bad. But something that we can do is to share good things about our cities, right? 🙂 I just did that!

  14. for sec i couldn’t believe that people in Noida wouldn’t know about Azamgarh, but then there are people who doesn’t even know the capital of India.

    But it was good to know more about Azamgarh here. I basically know it as the birth place of Abu Salem. As they, negative publicity sticks with things more than the good things. 🙂

    • Yes, negative publicity stays but it’s important to talk about the good things and share that more than the negative ones. That’s the only way to change things that we don’t like.

  15. Thanks for this post. You’re right – many cities and even people for that matter, gain a reputation that they are not able to shake off and it is upto their inhabitants to educate people the way you have done. Didn’t know Benarasi sarees are made in a small town of Azamgarh. Cheers!

    • Yes Vibha! Totally up to us to change perception. My Mum has been to weavers in Mubarakpur and she tells me how hard they work and under such tough conditions. But their work is amazing. Thank you for stopping by!

  16. I love your love for your city and I understand it completely since I too am passionate about mine. I’ll let you into a secret – my husband’s side belongs to Azamgarh and I came in for plenty of good-natured ragging from my colleagues. They would say though Azamgarh was home to a lot of anti-social elements they were always good to their wives so I was pretty safe! On a more serious note – no city can be branded good or bad. Each has both kinds of people.
    Beat About the Book recently posted…The ghost who walksMy Profile

    • I agree to you there! Each city has all kinds of folks.
      And that secret – well, who knows your husband was in the same school as mine? 🙂 Glad to know that! Another connection.

  17. I have had some lovely time in azamgarh district .. my best friend is from there is he now a ips officer. . And the best thing is if all goes well he will soon be posted to his home district .. and I have promised him I will be there because my beautiful aunty (his mom) makes a wicked Biryani. .

    I am sure I have some old pics somewhere back home in india .. maybe next time I go home I will bring them along..
    Bikram recently posted…Wordless Wednesday (55) :- P – is for Pictures and color PurpleMy Profile

  18. Dear Parul,
    You brought tears in my eyes…I am overwhelmed after reading your post thoroughly and I loved every bit of it. I spent almost 20 odd years there in Azamgarh. You know what I can recall every corner of that city and that happens only If you love something from bottom of your heart.
    I had a very strong sport (cricket) background, so, would like to let the world know that some of the players who do belong to Azamgarh are playing in IPL (Iqbal Abdullah KKR, Kamran Khan, Rajasthan Royal and recently Sarfaraz Khan Royal Challenger B’glore). So people please talk about these when you heard abt Azamgarh name next–)

    Thanks all BTW for all your lovely thoughts -) n parul to u too -)

    • Thank you for sharing that post. I was aware of Abdullah but missed it somehow. Great to share these names here.
      I am so glad that you felt good to read the post and I feel honored. Thank you again!

  19. Firstly thank you for baring your thoughts of what it is. And it touched me as you wrote from heart but sensibly.

  20. when i came in this city with my daughter Parul , it was an unknown city for me . even i had not heard its name before marriage . but city welcomed me with warmth . we gave our kids best education and values of life . we all live with a feeling of brotherhood . we still wait for sewaiyya made by Muslims in Eid , cakes in Christmas and they long for Gujhiya made by us in in holi
    In short i love my Azamgarh becoz it has given us ‘ Roti , Kapda and Makan ‘ what else ?

  21. It is sad that we have to defend our roots, your post was very informative. I learned a lot of new facts, thanks for sharing. Be proud of who you are and where you come from…

  22. I have heard of Azamgarh and have passed through it too, Parul. We lived in Allahabad and did tours of a lot of places in UP around there. It’s sad when the place you love is wrongly associated with something dark. Thank you for correcting the perception.
    Incidentally, we have a Nizamabad in Telangana too!
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  23. Hey Now this was something really appreciative 🙂 I too have heard lot about Azamgarh. I had a classmate in PG from there and he said that possession of gun is common thing out there 🙁 But I happy that you shared some great facts about it 🙂 Never knew Kaifi Azmi was from there 🙂

    • Thanks!
      Actually no, it’s not easy to get guns at all. May be he knew the people but folks like us (my parents and their work colleagues) never even thought of arms.
      For Kaifi Azmi, that Azmi is from the city. His real name was Sayyid Akhtar Hussein Rizvi. We also have a train to Delhi that’s called Kaifiat Express 🙂 Named after Kaifi Azmi.

  24. This happens everywhere, right? French people are rude, Sindhis are “kanjoos”, Kerela folks are conservative, British are uptight. We have a tendency to generalize because of a few examples. Sad we judge them by their location rather than the person they are.

  25. Wow! Thanks for giving all the info on Azamgarh. You’re right about it being associated with terrorists because that is the fault of the media that only plays up on the bad things in this world ( after all good news is definitely what people don’t want to hear). Of course every city has its good and bad side and I’m really glad that you chose to only highlight the good points that are tarred black by the media’s constant allusion to Azamgarh being the centre of the UP badlands.
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