New Delhi: The proposed museum, library and community kitchen at the ‘Masjid Complex’ in Ayodhya, will be designed on the theme of Awadhi culture, said retired JNU professor Pushpesh Pant, who has been appointed as their curator.
The Awadhi culture, he said, is not just limited to Lucknow, but is spread across Faizabad, Balrampur and Barabanki regions.
“The museum and the library will display stories and folktales of Faizabad, Balrampur and Barabanki regions,” said Pant, a Padma Shri recipient.
Pant, who was earlier associated with the JNU’s department of International Relations, was entrusted with the responsibility by the Indo Islamic Cultural Foundation (IICF), a trust set up by the Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board to oversee the construction of the Masjid Complex on a five-acre land.
Expressing contentment over his appointment, Pant said there will be something for everyone at the complex. “People belonging to every caste and religion will come to visit the museum and library, so there will be something for everyone.”
Pant said both the museum and the library — for which 418 square metres of land is likely to be allocated — will have glimpses of the Awadh region.
“For example, we will tell people about the age-old ‘Murg Shikasta Hari Pasand’ dish of Faizabad, which the present generation is completely unaware of. The dish was once prepared by (Ghazal queen) Begum Akhtar exclusively for Kashmir’s king Hari Singh when he was visiting Faizabad. That is why it is named ‘Hari Pasand’,” he told ThePrint.
According to Pant, “History and historical anecdotes associated with all such dishes will be there to read in the library.”
The community kitchen, he said, will offer the visitors delicious Awadhi cuisine. “Along with the famous kebabs and biryani, some vegetarian dishes will also be included in the menu,” he added.
Pant said his association with the Awadhi culture goes back to his childhood days when he used to frequently visit Lucknow, Barabanki and Faizabad.
Models of Rumi Darwaza, Imambara in museum
Pant added the museum will showcase the finest constructions of the Indo-Islamic culture such as models of Rumi Darwaza, Imambara, tombs and temples.
“The library will have Hindi translations of Urdu books. One will also get to see some of the most excellent specimens of Urdu calligraphy,” he said.
Pant said he has already started to work on this project with the help of 2-3 young colleagues.
Both the museum and the library are expected to be ready in about 2 years, he said.
‘Pant worked extensively on Indo-Islamic culture’
IICF’s secretary and spokesperson Athar Hussain told ThePrint Pant is a respected historian and an expert on foreign affairs too.
“If someone has worked extensively on Indo-Islamic culture in India, it is professor Pant only.”
Hussain also said that The New York Times had in 2011 declared Pant’s book ‘India: The Cookbook’ as the best cook book of that year.
He added: “There will be a food archive (which will be a part of the library) where the professor will showcase the amalgamation of Indian and Islamic cultures in Indian cuisine.”