Phele aap – After you, this is the mannerism in Lucknow. Also known as the city of Nawabs, Lucknowi is how the residents of Lucknow like to be known. Lucknow, 320km from Varanasi and in same state, but is in a sharp contrast from it. Being a capital city always of this region, it has always been big, well maintained, and flamboyant to an extent. Unlike Varanasi which is cramped and congested, Lucknow has few eight lane roads, with four – six lanes being more common in the city. Mannerism and general pace of the city is also much more refined and relaxed, easy going. As we say it in India – thezeeb hai wahan par. Manners exist there. However, it still remains small if you want to spend a week here. Perhaps two full days at best.
Lucknow was always a hub of cultural and arts and hence has been multi-cultured. Islamic art / architecture are visible prominently. So is the cuisine – Awadhi cuisine. It is a must try cuisine and must go city if you are a kebab and mutton lover. Difficult to find better mutton anywhere else in India.
Maybe because of after you attitude, in no rush feel, the city has been able to maintain the feel of earlier era and has not transported itself to 21st century fully.
|City Population||2.2 million|
|On Tourist Circuit||No|
|Best time to go||October – March|
|Why Go?||Food, Architecture|
|Location of Sites||North|
|Location of Hotels||Center / South / East|
Attractions of Lucknow:
Rumi Darwaza: Grand big door on your way to Chota Imambara.
Bara Imambara: The main attraction, Imambara is a shrine. It is the grander of the two. It has a labyrinth and also a bowli or step well. Visit to see the colorful interiors and the fun of moving in and out of labyrinth. Small architectural tricks had been incorporated while building it. The main hall is 50m X 16m X15m and was built without using any iron or beams / pillars. Many secret passages leading to as far as Delhi have been closed due to lack of use and fear of people disappearing who went exploring.
Chota Imambara: Smaller of the two, it serves as mausoleum of third nawab and his mother. Interiors however are equally rich if not more as of Bara Imambara. How nature’s forces and principles have been used to make fountains and showers functions without motor / electricity needs to be seen.
Ambedkar Memorial / Park – Colossal park, with numerous sandstone statues of elephants. Some call it waste of land and money, and some beautiful work whose utility we are trying to understand. If you are moving around Lucknow, then you cannot miss it. Take a look from the road, and drop in if it attracts you. Worth one quick visit atleast
Hazratganj – The main shopping area. However, the more important point is the look and feel of this place. Such shopping areas do not exist anymore. Broad road, decorative street light lamps, congestion, old way of shopping, and yet peace. Get down at the start of the lane and explore it by walking for some time. Some shops are running since 1940s.
British Residency – A park where a beautiful building once stood. But during mutiny against British troops in 1857, the building was shelled down and only few pillars and walls remain. It is now used more for picnic and sitting out and relaxing in sun. If you are here, then try to drop in and take a peak at the beautiful building of La Martiniere College. It is next door, and other end of mutiny. No traces of mutiny are visible in the college building now J
Vidhan Sabha Council House: About 200m from the start of Hazartganj. Imposing government office / power building but beautiful lit on a festival / national holiday day.
Husainabad Clock Tower: Near Rumi Darwaza, clock tower under development. It has a small museum of then 18th century 3D look paintings. Drop in to have a look.
Lucknow University: Another beautiful architecture, reminding of childhood with its interiors and desks.
Planetarium: Drop in to watch story of stars and galaxies!
Food and Eating:
When in Lucknow, kebabs and mutton have to be on the list always. Old Lucknow is a good place to try street food and mutton. Otherwise, area near Hazartganj, after vidhan sabha has good restaurants. I will personally recommend Oudhyana – Vivanta by Taj (Awadhi Cuisine). This place has amazingly cool colored interiors which are best appreciated on a hot day. Food is at minimum excellent.
Hotels and Stay:
Several hotels, budget to luxury are spread out in the South / Center / East region. Center and East have better guest houses and hotels.
Commuting within City:
Auto-rickshaws are easily available though they will charge their own wishful rate. Best option is to check the distance from your hotel and ask the hotel caretaker for approximate / charge and negotiate. Attractions are in cluster but moving from one cluster to another will require conveyance / auto.
New Delhi / Varanasi / Allahabad / Agra