Lucknow; the name itself reminds us of royal Nawabs, Chikankari dresses and tangy Kebabs. Once being the capital of Awadh, Lucknow boasted of its lavish Kothis, high minarets, Nawabi elegance and cultural fusions. The place bloomed as the cultural capital of North India till 1856 after which the East India Company abolishing the Nawab titles took over the reins of Lucknow. It was only in 1947 when Lucknow again established itself as an independent state of free India.
Well, there is a plethora of ways you can spend a day in Lucknow. Below follows is my choice of doing so.
Start your day with The Residency
In the early 18th century, Lucknow was the headquarters of the East India Company in Awadh. Needless to say, the wide campus of Residency served as their main territory. Though originally built by Nawab Sadaat Ali Khan, the British took over its hold from the Nawab by the end of 17th century. It was during 1857 Sepoy Mutiny that the place was attacked and sieged by the freedom fighters. The place till date homes the ruins of a banquet hall, offices, residential apartments, and even a graveyard.
Visit old Lucknow
The main attractions of old Lucknow are the Bara Imambara, Bhul Bhulaiya, Chota Imambara, Rumi Darwaza, Ghanta Ghar, and Satkhanda.
Take a glance at the largest hall of Asia in the 18th century Bara Imambara. Built under the patronage of Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula, the monument is supported by beamless high ceilings. The place also homes the tomb of the Nawab along with its architect Kifayatullah. The arched gateways, Persian designed facades, small carved windows and wide galleries constitute the key attractions of the monument.
On the right side of the monument stands the unending three-dimensional mazes of the Bhul Bhulaiya and on its left stands the Asifi Mosque.
People say that the labyrinth or the Bhul Bhulaiya has more than 1000 ways to enter but only one to exit. The interconnected tunnels once served as the hiding place of Nawabs from his enemies.
Next is the Asifi Mosque. Built by and named after Nawab Asif-ud-Daula, this is one of the finest mosques in Lucknow. The monument is also considered as one of the toughest after several failed efforts of damaging the same by the British army.
In the premises of the Bara Imambara stands another splendour of the Nawabi era, the five-storey high Shahi Baoli or the stepwell. It is said that the well has got a direct connection with River Gomti.
Outside the premises of the Bara Imambara stands one of the best icons of cultural fusion, the 60 feet high Rumi Darwaza. Named after the 16th-century philosopher Rumi, the structure is a fine representation of Islamic and Rajput architectures. Nawab Asif-ud-Daula built this gate in1784.
A 500 m walk from the giant gate, is the Hussainabad clock tower or the Ghanta Ghar. The giant 219 feet pendulum was built in resemblance to the Big Ben in London in 1881 and is in operation till date.
Next stop is the abandoned building of Satkhanda. Its erection process was initiated by Emperor Mohammad Ali Shah in the 1830s. It is said that the king wanted to build the structure in order to observe the moon on the night of Eid. Though initially, the monument was supposed to be built of 7 storeys, untimely accidents stopped its construction. Since then the place is believed to be cursed and consequently abandoned.
Next on the trail comes the replica of Taj Mahal, the Chota Imambara. Also known as the ‘Palace of Lights’ the silvery monument was built by Emperor Muhammad Ali Shah in 1838. Crystal lanterns and Belgium chandeliers light the place magnificently after the sunset. Besides, the monument encloses the tomb of its creator along with his other family members.
These places will almost take half a day to complete. All these are located very close to each other and can be covered by walking.
Visit the Chowk Market
At a distance of 2 km from the Bara Imambara complex, stands the Chowk Market. If you want to buy some exclusive pieces of Chikankari, you can do it here. There are tons of shops at the Chowk but be sure to bargain before you pay.
Enjoy your evenings at the Riverfront Park
If you have some time in the evening, you can ride to Ambedkar Park or Riverfront Park. Since it is located at the banks of River Gomti, it is also known as Marine Drive. The park is dedicated to the memories of the ‘Father of Constitution’, Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar.
Try the Lucknowi cuisines
Kebabs are the most popular listings in Awadhi list of cuisines. Apart from the various assortments of Kebabs, some must-try dishes here include Kormas, Tehri Pulav and Sheermal.
For the sweet lovers, Shahi Tukda, Phirni, Revdi and assorted Halwas are some of the best suggestions.
Finish your dinner with any of these ending a tiring day in Lucknow.
Few other lesser-visited places in Lucknow are its Kothis. Generalwali Kothi, Dilkhusa Kothi, Begum Kothi and Bibiyapur Kothi are some of the prominent historical Kothis in Lucknow. Other places to visit in Lucknow include Lucknow Zoo, La Marteniere College, and Chattar Manzil.
You can also fit these places in your Lucknow itinerary as per your choice and time.