Lucknow is the capital of the state of Uttar Pradesh in India. The city derives its name from the younger brother Lakshman of Lord Ram in Hindu mythology. It is truly a multifaceted cultural city of the country. India has been known to be the land of cultural diversity and Lucknow is a perfect example of this idea. Lucknow under the reign of Nawabs evolved to be the art and cultural centre of Northern India. The city is a home to architectural masterpieces dating back to the British Raj and even from before it when Nawabs had autonomy over the region. The city has also gifted some extraordinary poets like Javed Akhtar, Kaifi Aazmi and Saif Lakhnavi and politicians like Atal Bihari Vajpayee who served as the Prime Minister of India. It is also home to some famous cricketers such as Suresh Raina and Mohammad Kaif. Lucknow was also an active centre for ‘Khilafat Movement,’ the rebellion against the British and in India’s struggle for independence. The best part of Lucknow is the culinary aspects of it. The food of Lucknow is a must taste for anyone visiting India. The city serves as the centre of railways for northern India with trains running to all parts of the nation. It also houses ‘Amausi International Airport’ which offers swift conveyance to various major cities. Lucknow is also an education hub as it has an Indian Institute of Management, Institute of Engineering and Technology and King George Medical College.
The city lies in the fertile plain of Ganges and has a tributary Gomti running through it. Though there are no strict boundaries dividing the city but there are regions which are much older than the newly formed metropolitan city. The city is connected via a network of buses and auto-rickshaws running throughout the day. The city is clean as well as green.
If you are visiting Lucknow the first place you’d want to begin at would be ‘Bara Imambara.’ Bara means Big. It is a complex built in 1784 by Asaf-ud-Daula, the then Nawab of Lucknow. The building consists of a mosque, a labyrinth and a step well. It was built during a devastating famine with the sole objective of providing means of employment to the starving people. The building is crafted in Mughal Design, constructed without using any European design or iron. The labyrinth has over 489 identical doorways and is the only existing maze in India and serves as a major tourist attraction.
There is a ‘Chota Imambara,’ Chota meaning small to the west of Bara Imambara. It was built by Nawab Mohammad Ali Shah and comprises of more intricate ornate designs. It has gilt-edged mirrors, silver mimbars and colourful stuccos. Another architectural marvel of Mughal style is the Jama Masjid, a mosque located to the north-west of the Hussainabad Imambara. Various other architectural marvels of the Nawab Era include the Kaiserbagh Palace, tombs of Saadat Ali and Khurshid Ali, Dilkusha Kothi which was built in gothic style and the Shahnajaf Imambara.
Coming from the Charbag Railway station you will witness the majestic state legislative assembly built by the British and whose foundation was laid by Sir Harcourt Butler. Near to it you will see The Clock Tower built to mark the arrival of Sir George Couper, who served as the first Lieutenant Governor of the province of Awadh under British Raj. Another example of the British architecture is the Residency, a complex of various buildings. The relevance of the place comes from the fact that it was a battle-ground during the Mutiny of 1857.
Lucknow houses a state museum and zoo under a single complex. The zoo has been developed by the Forest Department and has a deer park and a nursery for one of the endangered species of crocodiles in India. It also has an extensive aviary. The museum houses a lot of artefacts from the Nawab and British period including weaponry and jewellery. It is one of the most visited picnic spot of the city.
National Botanical Research Institute built at the fighting grounds of the first war of independence at Sikanderbagh conducts extensive research in fauna and biotechnology.
The city is also beautified by two enormous parks, Ram Manohar Lohiya Park and Ambedkar Park named after the forerunners of Indian politics in the post-independence period. Ambedkar Park is decorated with beautiful lighting and has a majestic architecture as well.
The city has a great culinary culture. The food of Lucknow possesses its own individuality and has been influenced by the Mughal period thus imparting a royal touch to it. The most famous dishes are ‘kormas,’ ‘kababs,’ ‘roomali rotis’ etc. Some must-eat joints in the city are Dastarkhwan at LalBagh, Ouydhana at Hotel Taj in Gomtinagar and Tundey’s Kababs. If you don’t mind street food pay a visit to Ram Nehari’s Kulcha in the Chowk Bazaar which is an older part of Lucknow. If you must have junk food Lucknow is well furnished with all the major chains like Mc Donald’s, Pizza Hut and Barbeq Nation.
The days in Lucknow are bright while the nights are vibrant. Insomniacs who like to party hard at night could crash in Zero Degree in Gomti Nagar or the Privilege Club at MG Marg. For shopping fanatics Lucknow has a number of malls with all the major brands available. If you feel like bargaining and would like to buy from the street you should visit the Kaiserbagh Market.
The last word is to visit Lucknow and savour its aesthetic charms.