Not everything is so bad in the most populous state of India. Shining out of the congested crowd, divisive politics, casteism, fundamentalism, poverty, illiteracy is a city worth visiting, breaking up whose name into two parts means “Jackpot”. Yes, you guessed it right – Lucknow – the capital city of the erstwhile Kingdom of Awadh and currently, of Uttar Pradesh. Well, many call it “Nakhlau” in the Awadh region though.
The face of the state, Lucknow has seen a history of about a thousand years. So, it has quite a few historical places to visit. Famous for its maze, Bada Imambara is an architectural marvel in itself. Built by Asaf-ud-Daula in the 18th century, the maze was an unintended outcome of the efforts to reduce the weight of the solid roof by using walls and air to fill it instead of solid concrete. The result was a Bhool Bhulaiya, the story of which is told by the guides out there in a quite interesting way. The Bada Imambara campus also has a masjid and a baoli which intrigues the visitors with its uncanny features.
Next to Bada Imambara is the imposing Rumi Darwaza. A sight to behold, the area around this magnificent gate has been recently revamped and converted into a Heritage Walk. This gate is a symbol of the Awadhi architecture, having the ingredients of Mughal, Turkish and regional features. Lit up beautifully at the night, the Heritage Walk around it is a place not to miss in the capital city.
Along the Heritage Walk, is also the Clock Tower – A British Reminiscent. Recently in news due to the current CAA-NRC protests going on there, this 220 ft structure is a replica of the famous Big Ben in London.
Chhota Imambara, situated near the Clock Tower is a beautiful, white structure having a water body which perfectly reflects the Imambara and gives a gratifying view. Inside it is kept the tazia brought out only during the Muharram processions.
Chowk, situated next to these sites is a place for relishing the famous Tundey kebabs of Lucknow. Though crowded with bikes and rickshaws, the narrow lanes are lined with numerous Chikankari shops. Accorded with the GI tag, Lakhnavi Chikankari products are a souvenir not to miss from the visit.
About 5 km from the Chowk is Hazratganj. Containing outlets of numerous famous brands, this market is a small version of the majestic Connaught Place in New Delhi. It is a place to go for expensive and elite shopping. It also has some of the best restaurants in Lucknow. Not to forget, the nearby Hazratganj Metro station would help you take a ride in the Lucknow Metro, if not taken yet.
About a kilometre from it is the British Residency. This site was the centre of the 1857 First War of Independence in the Awadh region, led by Begum Hazrat Mahal.
On the other side of the city are the beautiful parks built by the successive state governments as their dream projects on the banks of River Gomti. Ambedkar Memorial Park, popularly called Hathi Park is one of the grandest sites to behold in Lucknow. Next to it is the Gomti Riverfront Park. This park is full of morning walkers. Every evening, a musical fountain show is held at Gomti River for the park visitors. Many movies have been shot at this park, owing to its unique landscape of four parallel layers – the first layer being of Gomti river, the second one being of the park itself, third being the Marine Drive and the last layer being of tall buildings like the Renaissance and Taj Hotels etc.
Another notable park is the Janeshwar Mishra Park – Asia’s largest park. It also has the Indian Tricolour flying at a height of 207 feet. A nice amount of landscaping and water bodies have been built, making it a place to visit in the mornings.
The Charbagh Railway station itself is a sight to behold for architectural enthusiasts. This building has elements of Rajput, Mughal, and Awadhi architecture and was built during the British Raj.
Do visit: Heritage Arc of Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh Vidhan Bhavan is also a magnificent building, symbolising the democracy in the largest state of India by population. Built using light brown sandstone from Mirzapur during the colonial rule, this building also has some structures built from Agra marbles.
The city has many other sights to visit, like the Satkhanda, Chhattar Manzil, Teele Wali Masjid, Asfi Mosque, and many more. It has many structures having resemblance with those in Istanbul, hence called the Constantinople of India.
The city is also an educational hub having some of the country’s premier educational institutions like Lucknow University, King George Medical University, Indian Institute of Management Lucknow, Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Science, Bhatkhande Music Institute, etc.
Well, being a historical city doesn’t mean it is devoid of modern developments. Lucknow has quite a few malls, notably the Fun Republic Mall which is one of the largest malls of India. Anandi Water Park is another popular spot, especially for children. Along Amar Shaheed Path of Lucknow are few buildings which need a special mention in this article, especially the newly built world-class Ekana Stadium and the Awadh Shilpgram hosting many handicraft shops.
The Golden City of East, Lucknow, is a place worth visiting. It is the centre-point of the Heritage Arc of Uttar Pradesh – Agra, Lucknow, Varanasi. Come and experience the “Lakhnavi Tehzeeb” and you will fall in love with this city.
Muskuraiye! Aap Lucknow mein hai!
(Smile! You are in Lucknow!)
Authored by Prateek Yadav who recently visited Lucknow with his friends.!
About the author
Prateek Yadav, an alumnus of IIT Kanpur, has worked on solar evaporation desalination and fog harvesting technologies during his M.Tech in Mechanical Engineering at Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, India.