The Catalysts for Urban Conservation in Indian Cities

Economics, Politics, and Public Advocacy in Lucknow

View of the Hazratganj market street showing the prominent clock tower of the Central Bank of India building. The historic fabric of the area comprises various commercial and institutional buildings designed with distinctly classical features such as dentiled cornices and moldings, quoins, Corinthian columns, and keystone arches. Over the years, however, many structures have been altered or lost due to economic pressures and lack of conservation legislation.

Assistant professor of urban planning Ashima Krishna examines historic preservation in Lucknow, India.

Conserving the historic cores of cities across India is a complex challenge, magnified in cities that lack long-term preservation processes. In such cases, more than a site’s historic character is required for urban conservation to succeed. This paper presents an example from Lucknow illustrating that economic interests, political support, and public advocacy and participation can be catalysts for urban conservation in a historic city without local heritage legislation. These factors also influence which areas are conserved, who benefits from the process, and the stakeholders involved. This assessment is drawn from a larger study that qualitatively examines the heritage management of Hazratganj, traditionally one of Lucknow’s most iconic, upscale, and historic market precincts. In 2012, Krishna surveyed a variety of stakeholders, officials, and project consultants there, as well as 300 users and 100 shopkeepers. This assessment provides a brief but critical look at urban conservation in a historic city facing rapid development; it can help professionals, both Indian and foreign, understand the promise and pitfalls of preservation and urban conservation in Indian cities. 


Ashima Krishna, Assistant Professor
Department of Urban and Regional Planning, UB


Journal of the American Planning Association

Date Published