Imagine entering a place and someone saying, 'Smile now that you are in Lucknow'. This is the best thing that could happen to anyone. It instantly makes you feel special and urges you to set foot in that place and explore it to the fullest. Lucknow is one of those amazing places which shall make you feel this way.
Lucknow's awesomeness shall touch your heart and attract you with its exquisite history and all the foodies and keen explorers shall be enthralled by the exploration of Imambaras, Masjids, parks, etc. Also, what makes Lucknow outstanding is its ambience reflecting richness with an artistic and cultural touch. That is Lucknow, guys!
Let us now catch a glimpse of the specialities of Lucknow. Here are the top things to do and places to visit when in Lucknow:
1) Visit The Imambaras:
The gigantic structure of the Bara Imambara, as the name suggests, shall leave your heart wandering in the world of Mughal ruins. The monument has been standing strong since 1784 and its beauty shall leave you speechless. Muslims adore this place and come trickling in large numbers, especially during the festival of Muharram. The central hall boasts of being 50 m long and you can praise it for being the largest arched hall in the world and you are also welcome to praise the Asifi Mosque and Shahi Bauli located inside it.
Now, lets come down to the Chota Imambara. It is just 1.5 km to the west of the Bada Imambara and is a brilliant masterpiece in white and green mosaic pattern. The mausoleum looks stunning with its colourful lamps and chandeliers that light up the place and make it glow after the sun sets. Don't miss out on the tomb of Muhammad Ali Shah and that of his family members located inside. It has a certain charm attached to it which allures visitors worldwide.
2) Take A Stroll In Hazratganj:
This crowded place is easy to spot as it is a quite popular place in Lucknow, just about 5 km away from the Bara Imambara. The Lucknow Sports Complex, as well as the Lakshman Mela Grounds, lies just nearby. Famously known as 'Ganj', this place obtained its name in 1842, when under the rule of the British, Hazratganj was beautifully crafted after Queen Street in London. Next, it was after 200 years, that it underwent a transformation. Buildings were painted a vibrant hue while stone pavements and Victorian style balustrades helped complement the architecture. A few lovable things around the Hazratganj market include the following:
3) Indulge In Chikankari Shopping:
The wife of Mughal emperor, Jahangir was Nur Jehan who propagated the exemplary art of Chikankari. Tourists just admire the fact that with the help of numerous techniques and a multitude of textile fabrics, Chikan embroidery has made a place in the heart of people. Janpath Market is your one-stop destination for availing such work, whereas Kashmir Government Arts Emporium and Gandhi Ashram can be visited by the handicrafts experts.
4) Get Lost In The Reader's Paradise:
Ram Advani Booksellers is every book lover's favourite place to be. If you are a passionate reader, then the quirky seating arrangement in the middle of the room shall catch your attention. Ram Advani who is the founder of the store has been worshipped by bookworms since forever. The store is around 60 years old now.
5) Visit The National Botanical Research Institute:
This is definitely one of those places which shall leave your eyeballs rolling in wonder. It has an exotic variety of around 6000 plants and thus is the pride of India's flora collection. Nature lovers shall pin this place to their favourites list forever.
6) Feel The Peace At Jama Masjid:
Shah Jahan in Delhi but then Nawab Mohammad Ali constructed yet another in Lucknow wanting to build one of the largest mosques of the subcontinent. However, his wish remained unfulfilled due to his untimely death but the construction was completed by his wife Mallika Jahan Begum in 1845 at a lower budget.
It is a brilliant construction with unmatched beauty and has distinctive differences when compared to the Jama Masjid in Delhi. The one in Delhi is built of red sandstone whereas you can admire the one in Lucknow to be adorned with Lakhauri bricks and covered in lime. What makes it stand out? There are stucco motifs present which make the architecture exquisite.
The mosque in Lucknow is visited only by the Sunni Muslims. You can visit the mosque built on a square terrace even during prayer times whereas the case is opposite when the Jama Masjid in Delhi comes into the picture. The prayer hall is colossal with a simply fabulous facade in the west. What shall amaze you all the more is the gigantic entrance with elegant stucco work.
7) Watch A Starry Sky At The Planetarium:
The Indira Gandhi Planetarium, located on the banks of the river Gomti, is a captivating building whose foundation was laid by Late Veer Bahadur Singh, the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh on 28 February 1988. It is exquisitely shaped like the planet Saturn with its five rings. What shall allure you to the place?
The spherical shape of the planetarium lying on the platform is exclusively designed that way for an understanding of how craters are formed on celestial bodies. The platform is layered with pools of water and fountains to fill your heart with joy. It is the abode of astronomy where all celestial bodies can be virtually felt by you. The journey of the stars shall leave you perplexed and the multitude of astronomical beauties is simply enchanting.
The varied show timings are 1:00 pm, 2:30 pm, 4:00 pm and 5:00 pm. If you are lucky, you get a special show screening at 6:00 during the summer holiday months. All the shows are usually in Hindi but the first show during the weekends is in English. The time for booking is between 11:00 am and 5:00 pm.
8) Visit The Historical Umbrella Palace:
You will instantly like this mind-blowing place with the shining umbrella on the top which gets brightened by the sunrays. That is why the name Umbrella Palace because of its gigantic parachute structure. The design is an exciting mixture of the Italian and French style. This Chatar or Umbrella Palace is located on the right bank of the river Gomti. It is a five-storeyed building whose two storeys are located below the ground level. Chattar Manzil was initially taken into the hands of Nawab Saadat Ali Khan for building purpose but the modification credits go to Ghazi-ud-din-Haider.
Would you believe that it served as a royal abode for the kings of Awadh until Qaiserbagh became their residence? Two octagonal towers are connected to the basement for the privilege of breathing in fresh air. You could view celestial bodies via the twin telescopes placed on the rooftop by the British. The Palace also flaunted a state-of-the-art garden which was quite popular among British tourists.
9) Marvel At The Victorian Styled Clock Tower:
Positioned near the Rumi Darwaza, this tower holds significance to acknowledge the arrival of Sir George Couper, the first Lieutenant Governor of the United Province of Awadh. You shall have to crane your neck to a height of 221 ft for viewing it. 'Ghantaghar' is another popular name for it that amplifies the Gothic and Victorian styles to perfection. Can you guess the metal of which the clock parts are made of? Gunmetal. The pendulum is enormous with a length of 14 ft with a quaint dial in the form of a 12-petalled flower with bells surrounding it.
10) Relax At The Lohia Park:
Heard about Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Park in the trans-Gomti area? It is a large stretch of a garden where you can go for a pleasurable outing with your loved ones. The entry to the park is via four courtyards and the entire place is around 76 acres.
You shall love to sway your feet across the Kota stone flooring and lush greenery. Seasonal plants shall also allure you to Lohia Park. It is energizing to scan the jogging tracks made up of sand and as an add-on feature is a 500-metre long semi-circular path. It is a lovely place for picnics with benches as well as equipment of entertainment for little kids that also add to the charm.
11) Go On A Heritage Walk:
This tour takes place every day from 7:30 am to 10:00 am in the months of April to September and from 8:00 am to 10:30 am from October till March. It is an expedition of the old city with the help of a guide, starting from Lal Pul, Tila Wali Masjid, Bara Imambara, Gol Darwaja, Chowk Bazaar, Phool Wali Gali to Akbari Darwaja. This walk helps you unleash the undercover secrets of Lucknow city where you chance upon the historical bits and pieces of the place and unearth unique pieces of information each time.
Be it the exotic Zari embroidery, the metal carving, gem-stone shaping or the Chikan embroidery process, everything enhances the expertise of arts and crafts of the place. You can be on the lookout of hookah shops, erstwhile dance studios or the delicious Tunday Kebabs: all of them equally inviting. Not to forget the hop and skip along with the locals at the oldest bazaar of Lucknow.
The guide presents you with bottled water, a few goodies and a heritage map to your rescue. You get to taste a bit of the cuisine which comprises mind-blowing sweets to tickle the taste buds and the fragrance of the 'itra' and scented oil is also irresistible. It proves that Lucknow is a city of great grandeur.
12) Visit The Royal Well - ‘Shahi’ Baoli:
This royal stepwell is the best means of preserving rainwater. It is present since the Mughal times and the most exciting part is that it is said to comprise a secret treasure map with a key attached to it. It quite well flaunts Indo-Islamic designs which were constructed by Kifayat-Ullah. It has always been a boon for the famine-stricken population and was sponsored by Nawab Asif-ud-daula. An amazing fact that can be shared with you all is that you can see a colourful reflection in the waters of the well when you are at the entrance. The five-storeyed building shall not disappoint you as it has exclusive resting rooms for the guests with the facility of both cold and hot water available.
13) Indulge In The Delicious Street Foods:
Street food in Lucknow? It has to be the scrumptious food they serve around the Hazratgunj area which begins at the Gol Darwaza and ends at the Akhbari Darwaza: a short expansion of about 500 m. The cuisine of Awadhi food is lip-smacking. The Tunday Kebab is said to give you a taste of heaven where 'Tunda' means 'a man without hands'. That is how this place got its name. The kebabs are so soft that old people can also bite into them easily. Famous fast foods include Nihari and Kulcha and the mouth-watering Lucknawi Biryani is also awesome. The Persian recipe of the ultra amazing sweet-dish 'Nimish' which is light-coloured and has a creamy texture shall also catch your fancy. It is also known as Makhan Malai. Ram Asrey Sweetshop focuses on the best halwas ever and the Lucknow chaat shall linger on your lips a little longer with its best quality taste.
Already in love with Lucknow? So you might as well spend some quality time at Kukrail which is a nice picnic spot, catch a glimpse of the Indira Dam or hang out at the Marine drive!
How To Reach Lucknow:
By Road: You can visit Lucknow via luxury, deluxe and Volvo buses at regular intervals from Kanpur (90 km), Delhi (550 km), Agra (366 km) and Varanasi (320km).
By Rail: It is connected to the rest of the country via an exclusive railway network. The Charbagh Railway Station located centrally has trains for Lucknow from Delhi, Kolkata, Patna and Chennai.
By Air: Chaudhary Charan Singh Airport of Lucknow is about 15 km away from the main city at a place called Amausi. There are frequent flights from Delhi, Mumbai, Patna, Bangalore and Hyderabad. There are international flights as well from Abu Dhabi, Muscat, Riyadh, Jeddah, Dubai and Doha.