This capital city of Uttar Pradesh boasts of its Avadhi culture and heritage like no other city in India. It is special and unique, people it houses are equally unique in their own ways.
Talking about Lucknow, one cannot miss mentioning the Lakhnavi tehzeeb. When I first moved out of the city, I remember curious questions about how true is the popular “Pehle aap” phrase. If you are from Lucknow, you will totally relate to it. Answer is, yes the language here is not just polite and graceful but much more. Give this city a chance and find out for yourself 😉 From the street vendors to the staff at the now big malls, Lucknow-ites seldom fail to impress with their courtesy and language🙏
What to do?
You can actually spend a minimum of three days to indulge and be left basking at the glory of this city.
See Top highlights are the Bara Imambara, Rumi Darwaza, Clock Tower (all neighbors standing tall accompanying each other since 18th Century).
Shop Lucknow is popular for it’s Chikankari, a hand embroidery that originates from the city and is very much in demand across the country. Chowk in the old part of the city has everything Chikan that the mind can imagine.
Eat This needs another post altogether. There are so many delicacies that Lucknow has to offer. The famous Tunday Kababi (since 1905) , Basket Chaat, Malai Makhhan in the winters, Khasta Kachauri are amongst the few that are specialties local to the city.
Built by the Nawab of Avadh, Asaf-ud-Daula in the 18th century, Bara Imambara is a mosque complex that makes to the top most attraction of the city. One must keep a minimum of 2-3 hours to visit the place. Why so much time for a mosque? Because it isn’t only that. There is the Imambara, Asifi Mosque, the labyrinth (Bhool Bhulaiya) and the Bouli.
Open only to Muslim followers, the mosque is named after Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula. This is the last monument constructed without the use of iron. Steps to the mosque are always occupied by visitors charmed by the grandeur of Mughal architecture.
The main chamber houses the tomb of Asaf-ud-Daula. The chamber has no beams supporting the ceiling !! For the curious ones, it is advisable to hire a guide within the complex to know the details and the legends around the place.
It is interesting to know that the candle lamp in the chamber is placed opposite to glass mirror such that it lightens up the whole chamber with reflection of light.
The Labyrinth (Bhool Bhulaiya)
It was an accidental architecture that resulted in creation of this Labyrinth ! There are 1024 ways to reach to the terrace but only one to return. It really is confusing – I have never been able to make it without help 😉 Terrace gives a spectacular view of the city and it is worth spending a few minutes here admiring the old town.
Shahi Bouli was constructed to be used as a water reservoir. Nawab built the structure along with other parts of Imambara to employ the famine struck natives of Avadh. Most fascinating is the fact that the water in the well acts as a spy camera to the entrance of the structure. It used to alert the guards if there were unwanted visitors.
Rumi Darwaza and Clock Tower
Just outside the Imambara stands the mighty Rumi Darwaza right the center of the city. The Clock Tower was built as a replica to Big Ben clock tower in London to mark the arrival of George Couper, 1st Lieutenant Governor of United Province of Avadh.
On a lazy afternoon, a horse cart ride should not be missed. The view takes you into the very much local food scene and shopping market of Lucknow, more about which in my next posts.
Though the city does not make it to the popular tourist destinations of the country (spots are taken by the royal cities, the pilgrimage famous, the metropolitan), I think it is worth adding Lucknow to the list as it has so much more to offer than the conventional and chic. At times we all need that laid back Nawabi travel !!