Lucknow – The city of Nawabs
Lucknow the seat of many cultures swings between mythology and modernity. Supposedly founded by Lord Lakshmana, younger brother of Lord Rama, Lucknow today is at the threshold of becoming the fastest growing city in north India. The Nawabs of Awadh who reigned from Lucknow during the 18th century and built the majority of the monuments we see today, were Shiites when most Indian Muslims were Sunnis. The city still has the largest number of Shiite Muslims in India, and festivals reflect this special heritage.
Lucknow is famous for its social refinement, which extends to every aspect of life: manners, conversation, gastronomy, and calligraphy. All the arts, especially poetry is the soul of the city. The city is a center for scholarship in Urdu language.
Places to see
The Residency, built between 1780 and 1800, remains as it was at the end of the final siege at the time of the Mutiny, a blackened ruin of shattered walls, pockmarked by bullets and torn open by cannonballs: a surrealistic sight indeed.
Another attraction is Bara Imambara with an impressive mosque in its compound. Imambara said to have the largest vaulted chambers in the world. Imambara also houses Bhool-Bhulaiyya, a complicated labyrinth of passages along with a stairway well.
Beside Imambara, is the remarkable Rumi Darwaza, said to be copied from a similar structure in Istanbul. In the vicinity there is Clock Tower, Picture Gallery and Chota Imambara. Further down the road is “Teeley wali Masjid”.
A curious sight in the outskirts of the city is La Martiniere. Built at of the end of the 18th century as Constantia, the private home of French soldier of fortune Claude Martin, is now a private school.
There is another Imambara called Shahnajaf near Moti Mahal. There is a modest zoo and a state museum. And also Kaiserbagh with Baradari and Sikandarbagh with Botanical Gardens may be visited.
Lucknow food is predominantly meat based and aromatic. Tunday Kababs in Chowk can’t be missed. Idris ki Biryani at Pata Nala and Wahid ki Biryani in Aminabad are points of gastronomical pilgrimage. King of Chaat at the Stadium is a great place for evening food. Prakash Kulfi in Aminanbad is for dessert lovers. Rovers at GPO and Xerxes Club are hep places for the grub. Indian Coffee House is a must stop for the intellectual types.
Ethnic Indian wear with intricate embroidery of Chikan is the highlight of the city, which may be bought at Chowk. Other embroidery work befitting ceremonial occasions is Zardozi. Lucknow is also renowned for attars (perfume) made from rose petals.
20 Kilometers from Lucknow is Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary, an ideal place for bird -watchers. Post Nawabganj, after Unnao, is Bithoor on the banks of the Ganges where Rani Laxmi Bai was raised. On the other side is the town of Faizabad, the old capitol of Awadh. There is also the twin city of Ayodhya on the banks of Saryu, where Lord Rama lived and ruled. Further down is the holy land of Naimisaarnya, where our holiest scriptures—Vedas—were written.