Along the banks of Gomti river resides the largest city of Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow. The capital city is known for its amazing Chikankari (traditional embroidery style), Poetry, Gardens and Kebabs.
The city of Nawabs will bind you to its charm. A tour around this historic city will not only charm you with the stunning Indo-Persian architecture but will also satisfy your gastronomic fantasies and turn you into a shopaholic. Here are the 10 things that will guide you through the past and the present Lucknow
This is the first thing that comes to our minds when someone mentions Lucknow. The iconic Bada Imambara build by Asaf-ud-Daula, Nawab of Awadh. The Bada Imambara complex comprises of Asifi Mosque, the main Imambara inside of which resides the famous Bhul bhulaiya (labyrinth) and the Shahi Baoli (step well). Imambara is a sacred place where people gather during the festival of Muharram to mourn their loved ones. Even though the city is full of Imambaras, the imposing architecture of this one will definitely leave you spellbound.
The famous Turkish arch gateway of Hussainabad showcases the brilliance of Awadh architecture. This gateway also marks the entrance to the Old city of Lucknow. According to the locals, it was during the reign of Asaf-ud-Daula when scarcity had spread across the city. That is when the Nawab decided to build the gate, giving the citizens employment. Every night people used to demolish the gate and then reconstruct it during the day. Hence it took 11 years to build this gateway.
Another imposing Imambara built by the third Nawab of Awadh, Muhammad Ali Shah. As you enter the complex, you encounter two similar looking white tombs separated by a fountain pathway. The one on the right resembling the Taj Mahal is the Tomb of princess Asiya built by Muhammad Ali Shah in the memory of his beloved daughter. The one on the left was built for architectural symmetry and was used as a treasury. The main hall of the Imambara showcases breathtaking art and inscriptions all over the outer wall. The inside of the sacred hall is decorated with chandeliers and crystal glass lamps. This is used as the main site to perform rituals during the festival of Muharram.
Next to the Chota Imambara stands the Satkhanda, a red coloured seven storied watch-tower. The tower was being constructed by Muhammad Ali Shah for his daughter. The tower takes its inspiration from the leaning tower of Pisa. The construction was left incomplete after his daughter’s death and was completed later in the 20s.
Hussainabad Clock Tower
The Clocktower resided in the middle of the two gateways of Hussainabad. This Victorian-Gothic structure was built to mark the arrival of Awadh’s first Lieutenant Governor, Sir George Cooper. Tallest among all clock towers in India, this clocktower shares a resemblance to the London’s famous Big Ben.
A place where the life-size painting of the Nawabs of Awadh come to life. The picture gallery showcases the 3D paintings of the Nawabs. It is interesting to see how the Mughal artists took inspiration from Leonardo da Vinci’s work to create the perspective drawing.
Also known as the British Residency is the ruins of the British Resident General. This place was built by the fifth Nawab of Awadh, Saadat Ali Khan II for his representative in the court of the Nawab. This place was destroyed during India’s first war of Independence against the British government. Now just the ruins remain to narrate the stories of the past.
A gated complex built by the last Nawab of Awadh, Wajid Ali Shah. Being an ardent art lover and a poet himself. The Nawab dreamed of building a palace complex that would be a paradise on earth and an ideal place for his artistic temperament. After the invasion of the Britishers, most of the buildings were demolished. What remains now are the ruins and the two major gates of Kaiserbagh, the Lakhi and Niel gate.
Marine drive & B.R. Ambedkar Memorial Park
Taking a turn from the historic lanes to the modern side of the city. The Gomti riverfront is called the Marine drive that takes you along the riverside on a beautiful pathway surrounded by an abundance of flora. An evening walk by the riverside is all you need to clear your mind. From the riverside, you get a sight of the famous Ambedkar park. The gigantic park complex is beautiful indeed and has a lot to offer. A museum dedicated to the great leaders who fought during India’s freedom struggle and a Stupa dedicated to Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar to honour his contribution towards humanity, equality and social justice.
Lucknow is a shoppers paradise. Even if you’re not one, this place will definitely turn you into one! Visit the wholesale markets like Aminabad, Nazirabad, Chowk Bazaar. These markets will remind you of Delhi’s Chandni Chowk. Narrow lanes filled with hawkers selling Chikan clothes, perfumes, jewellery and what not! You can also visit the Hazratganj market that will remind you of Delhi’s Connaught Place with its British style architecture and branded outlets.
P.S: If going during winters then do try Makkhan Malai (also known as Daulat ki Chaat). It tastes heavenly!
Lucknow city is a beautiful amalgamation of various cultures and has numerous treasures waiting to be explored. If you still have time to explore then here’s a list for you!