Hello, my fellow travelers, I am sure you are enjoying the ride on the #XploreBharat Blog train. After exploring so many amazing destinations with the most recent trip to Nainital with Dr. Jenifer. Today we have finally reached one of the most beautiful cities of Northern India, The City of Nawabs and Kababs, Lucknow.
The capital city of Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow is situated on the banks of the river Gomti. Retaining its old world charm, from the British era buildings to the magnificent mosques to the lush green parks to the grandiose sandstone monuments, this city has so much to offer you.
Hence it lures the travelers across the globe to experience this city. YES! Lucknow is an experience. It has all the amenities of metro cities as well as all the pleasures of a small town.
So, Muskuraiye aap Lucknow me hain (Smile, you are in Lucknow) and come, let’s explore this royal and historic city through my lens.
For me, Lucknow had a different meaning always. In childhood, a visit to this city on Sundays with my parents meant a luxury picnic to the zoo, historical monuments, and many parks.
I was studying in Noida when my parents shifted here in 2005 due to my father’s job but my heart was always in my hometown, Sitapur which is an hour drive away from Lucknow.
But gradually, this city’s charm captivated me and now, I happily and proudly call it home. Writing this post itself is evidence of the fact that I love being called a Lucknawi.
So, here I’m sharing the top sightseeing attractions and other important details which would help you plan your itinerary to my city.
Top Places to visit:
The Bara Imambara also known as Asfi Imambara is one of the most famous monuments of Lucknow. It was named on the Nawab of Lucknow who got it constructed. It is said to be the world’s largest unsupported structure and one of the finest specimen of Mughal Architecture.
The central hall of this landmark is known for its largest arched hall in the world. You will be surprised to know that the entire building is constructed using Lucknawi bricks (which are relatively smaller in size) and lime plaster only. No metal or wood has been used in this building.
In the Central Hall, you can also witness the grave of Nawab Asaf-Ud-Dowlah and his crown. There are few more religious centers and famous sightseeing monuments like the Asifi Mosque, Shahi Bawali, Rumi Darwaja, etc. within the vicinity of Bada Imambara.
Bada Imambara is an important place of worship for the Muslims. They come here to celebrate the religious festival of Muharram every year.
You will be amazed to witness another popular monument an incredible maze, Bhul Bhulaiya which is located on the upper floor of Bada Imambara. It is an unusual labyrinth of corridors which is the show stealer and attracts many tourists.
The interesting part of Bhul Bhulaiya is that you speak very slowly at one end of the building, it can be heard from the other end. So, never share any secrets with anyone hear. As they say, “Deewaro ke bhi kaan hote hain” (Walls have ears), it holds very much true for this place.
I have many fondest memories of my childhood of this place, playing and running around with my brother and later I boasted about this historical monument to my husband on his first visit to Lucknow. You can take a ride on the horse chariots just outside the monument and get a feel of the Nawabs.
The Chhota Imambara, also known as “The Imambara of Hussainabad”, is another enchanting building and one of the most prominent historical structures in the old city of Lucknow. It is situated in the West of Bara Imambara and is a true sight to behold. Constructed in the year 1838, by the third Nawab of Awadh, Muhammad Ali Shah, this monument was initially a congregation hall for Shia Muslims.
Chhota Imambara is embellished profusely with the chandeliers during Muharram. Hence, it has been named as the ‘Palace of Lights’ by European visitors and writers. It looks phenomenal during the night when all lit up during the festivals and catches the fancy of many travelers across the globe. It looks splendid not just from the outside but the interiors are also intricately decorated and look captivating.
Its rich architecture is a beautiful blend of Indo-Islamic and Persian structural designs. On the exterior walls of this building, Quranic verses are written in Islamic calligraphy. It makes the best spot for photo fanatics and history lovers.
If you really want to experience the history of The British Era, this is the right place for you. The Residency was the living quarters of the British Commissioner of the Awadh, who was the representative’s of the British East India Company in the courts of Nawabs. You will witness the royal and grand life that the Britishers led here along with the pain and struggle of our freedom fighters.
The biggest event Residency is known for is the First War of Independence in 1857. You can still see the marks of the bullets and canons of the Freedom Movement here. It gives you jitters merely thinking about the siege which lasted for 5 months.
You will find the ruins of the treasury, kitchen, the storehouse, the Brigade mess, the banquet hall that still bore the signs of intricate carvings of that Era. This is not to be missed place in the city.
I clearly remember once my school planned a trip to Lucknow and Residency was the first place we visited. I left the place with mixed emotions as the pain and struggle of our freedom fighters was so real and hard.
Also known by the name of “Nawab Wajid Ali Shah Prani Udyan” or “Prince of Wales Zoological Gardens”, Lucknow Zoo is one of the nicest zoos in India. It is a home of around 1000 animals of more than 100 species. The most famous one is a chimpanzee also named Hukku Bandar who makes funny voices and is the center of attraction of all the visitors.
Spread across a huge area of 29 hectares, it can be explored by a Pollution free Battery Vehicle which is for the visitors in the zoo. It is very popular for its recreational activities like paddle boating and toy train named “Bal Rail” that runs across the zoo.
One thing that catches visitors attention here is the adoption scheme for the animals. You can adopt any animal you wish to and donate for its expenses. If anyone is interested in the noble cause, further details can be found here.
I re-visited Zoo after many years, during my recent India trip along with my daughters, husband and mother and the little ones enjoyed equally. A remarkable change I noticed was plastic is banned inside the campus. So, if you are planning to carry any snacks with you, pack them in box or paper bags.
Also known as “Turkish gate”, the creation of this masterpiece has a very charitable reason behind it. Its architecture is an imitation of a similar specimen in Istanbul. During 1748, famine struck North India and the then Nawab of Awadh came up with a plan to feed his countrymen as well as give him something to be proud of.
The Awadhi workers built the majestic Rumi Darwaza for the Nawab as a barter association, in exchange for every day’s meal. This was constructed without using even a single piece of wood, iron or stone beams.
It used to be the gateway to the royal city and palace in those days but gradually Rumi Darwaza has stopped being the main doorway to the royal residence. Despite this, it has nowhere lost its beauty and importance when it comes to the culture of The Awadh City, Lucknow.
Over the years, I have seen this place changing and today, the arch of this gigantic and strong monument, Rumi Darwaza remain cacophonous all day as it runs roadways to both the sides. It still reminds me of horse chariot rides every time I pass through it.
Husainabad Clock Tower:
This is another historic building of the city which stands tall right adjacent to the Rumi Darwaza. Built in 1881, The Husainabad Clock Tower is the tallest clock tower in India.
Sham-e-Awadh in Hazratganj Market: GANJING!!!
A visit to Lucknow is incomplete without hopping the biggest and most posh market, Hazratganj. We call it Ganjing. You will find the entire market quite happening throughout the day, especially in the evening (Sham-e-Awadh).
If you are looking for branded outlets for shopping or some exciting food options or just hanging around, this is just the place for you. How I miss Ganjng with my cousins during my teenage years while typing this.
Ambedkar Park, Janeshwar Mishra Park, and Ram Manohar Lohia Park are the three largest parks of the city. Ambedkar Park is a mammoth construction of stones, fountains, and marble and looks magnificent in the night when lit up.
Janeshwar Mishra Park is the biggest park in Asia spread across a huge area of 376 acres. With a large variety of plants and trees and many man-made fountains, it is popular for its longest jogging and bicycle track in India. It displays a real MIG-21 aircraft and a battle tank which is open for the public. You can see a 200 ft. high flag of India in this park.
Ram Manohar Lohia Park is famous amongst the morning and evening walkers as it’s lush green environment is well suited for the purpose.
Other famous parks like Buddha Park, Nimbu Park, Haathi parks are one of the most popular places for the families and kids who prefer outdoors to the malls over the weekend.
A few more interesting places to visit are Indira Gandhi Planetarium, Regional Science Center, Hanuman Setu Temple, Vidhan Sabha, Chandrika Devi Temple, Shaheed Smarak etc.
Foods to Eat:
Lucknow is very famous for its varied cuisine. From Tunde Kababi which is more than a 100-year-old restaurant in Chowk where you get many varieties of the softest and mouth-watering kababs to Malai Makhan which is available only during the winters. (Delhiites might know about it as in Delhi, you get it by the name of Daulat ki chaat in Chandni Chowk) but nothing can beat the original taste of that of Lucknow. It is made up of milk by keeping it under the dew drops overnight and then frothing it. As I write this, I crave for its heavenly taste.
Other famous foods to try here are Basket chaat or Tokri Chaat at Royal Cafe, Hazratganj, Lassi at Chowk, Dhaal ki Chaat (chaat in a narrow road) in Aminabad, Prakash Kulfi (Ice cream) in Aminabad, Lucknawi Pan, Chai Bun at Sharma Tea Stall and the endless variety of sweets are a few not to miss foods in Lucknow.
Lucknow is famous for its Chikankari embroidery work all over the world. The suits, sarees, kurtas, kids wear etc. are exported to many countries. The best places to shop is Chowk which is said to be the hub of this 400-year-old art and is flooded with chikankari shops. You will get a lot of variety at the best rates here.
Alternately, you can also hop on to any Seva Chikan outlet. There are many outlets across the city, though the prizes are a bit higher but you get classy stuff.
Ada is another fancy outlet for Chikan stuff located at Hazratganj but its too pricy. Kapoorthala is a relatively smaller market but you get everything under the sun here from jewelry to clothes to footwear etc. Aminabad is the busiest and the most popular market of Lucknow and you can get stuff at any range – low to high. So, if you are comfortable in a crowded market, this is the place for you.
There is a heavily populated and famous market in Aminabad where you get a huge variety of cosmetics, bangles, and craft related stuff which makes it a highly loved place for the women. How can I not mention the interesting name of this market, we call it, “Gadbadjhala”. My favorite part of this market is bargaining, which makes every woman happy, isn’t it?
I personally buy from Kapurthala if I don’t have much time and need only 1-2 pieces of suits but if I have time in hand, I prefer Chowk or Aminabad any day.
Interesting facts about Lucknow:
- There is a posh area, Gomti Nagar, named on the river Gomti, which is home to malls, PVRs, IT companies, 5-star hotels etc. Its residential area is divided into many sectors (Khands) and all their names start with the alphabet “V”. To name a few, Vardaan Khand, Vastu Khand, Vaibhav Khand, Vibhor Khand, Vikas Khand, Vikalp Khand, Vineet Khand, Vipin Khand, Vinay Khand and many more.
One of the historical landmarks of Lucknow, the La Martinere School started in 1845. It was the abode of the tomb of French Major-General Claude Martin as he lived there.
Lucknow was earlier known by many names like Lakshampuri, Laksmnaut, Laksnaut, Laksnau to Laknau and finally Lucknow.
Lucknow’s Charbagh Railway Station is one of the most beautiful and busiest railway stations in India. It resembles a chess board when seen from an aerial view.
Begum Hazrat Mahal took charge of the city during India’s first war of independence and led her armies against.
The famous event, Kakori trial that involves our freedom fighters Ram Prasad Bismil and Afaqullah Khan, took place in Lucknow.
There is a nexus of 4 National Highways NH-24, NH-25, NH-56 and NH-28 in the city.
Residents of Lucknow call themselves “Laknavi” and are known for their elegance and sophisticated way of speaking like “Tashreef rakhiye” (Please have a seat).
How to reach Lucknow:
Being the capital of Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow is well connected with all the major cities of India through airport and railway station. The nearest airport is Amausi airport which has good connectivity with many major cities of India. The railway station is Charbagh and is quite accessible from most of the cities across the country.
The sheer brilliance and splendid beauty of this city get imprinted on the mind of visitors and stay with them forever in the form of a beautiful memory.
So, this was a glimpse of my city which is beautiful in its own way. Hope you liked its virtual tour. Now the next stop of #XploreBharat train would be Kanyakumari by my dear friend and a brilliant writer Sitharaam Jayakumar.
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