From Ackter & Co. to Naini: Here's the legacy of Lucknow's 100-YO barber shop
There is no place in Lucknow where the 'old' and the 'new' co-exist as they do in Hazratganj. Known as the heart of the city, the place has seen it all unfold over centuries. And even though Ganj has embraced the new-age showrooms and cafes, it has not let its historical significance fade away.
The place is still home to some of the oldest shops and structures of Lucknow. One such place is the 'Naini Beauty Centre', right next to the New Shukla Tea stall. This Barber shop, which is over 100 years old, was set up way back in 1912.
Here's what we found when we decided to explore its history...
Go-to grooming destination for the British Royalty in Lucknow
The journey of this shop began when India was under British rule, in the year 1912, under the name Ackter & Co. The then Governor of United Province (Uttar Pradesh), Sir Harry Haig, appointed the original owner of this place as his personal hairdresser. The governor also commissioned a space for the shop, where the UP State Handloom Corporation stands today.
At the time, the shop provided its haircutting, wigs, and other grooming services exclusively to Britishers. The place was frequented by officials of the British crown and members of the Royal family.
Pleased with the service, prominent members of the Royal family used to leave testimonials like the ones you see in the picture above. Even after India's independence, prominent bureaucrats and politicians frequented the place, leaving behind similar 'Good work certificates' that adorn the walls of this age-old grooming hub in Hazratganj.
Ackter & Co becomes Naini Beauty Center
The location of the shop was changed to its current location in the year 1957, after its name was changed to Naini Beauty Centre in 1939. The current owner, from the 4th generation of the family, Shahid Hussain Warsi, took up the charge from his father in 1989.
Speaking on how times and hair-cutting prices have changed, Mr. Warsi said that "When I took over in late the 80s, the cost of a haircut was ₹4, today we charge ₹150. This alone makes you wonder how different things are today".
When asked how different is today's Hazratganj from tha ganj during the time of the britishers, Mr. Warsi said, "Back in the day you could find a handful of cars parked in Ganj near the Mayfair building. Today, there's hardly any space to park. I have seen many shops coming up and eventually being shut. Thanks to our dedicated service, we have stood the test of time".
Watched the wig trend catch up in the 90s, early 2000s
From British Governors and Viceroys to today's prominent politicians like former Deputy Chief Minister of UP, Dr. Dinesh Sharma, this century-old grooming hub in Ganj has continuously served people in power.
The place has also seen trends come and go. For example, Mr. Warsi says "We've sold wigs since our origin, but the trend really caught up in the 90s and early 2000s. Today, people prefer customized wigs and we still boast a loyal customer base".
Hazratganj; Encapsulating the soul of Lucknow
Stepping into the Naini Beauty Center is akin to opening a chapter of history. From their 'Wall of Praise' featuring good work certificates to the old-timey ambiance, the place exudes a vibe that only places of historical significance possibly can!