Liberally sprinkled with British era buildings – including the famous Residency – and boasting two superb mausoleums, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, though somewhat overshadowed by the cities of Agra and Varanasi, caters well to history buffs. By contrast, Lucknow’s modern side boasts a unique feel with grandiose monuments and overstated parks and gardens, many boasting marble sidewalks and pink sandstone. It’s nothing if not interesting.
The city rose to prominence as the home of the Nawabs of Avadh (Oudh) who were great patrons of the culinary and other arts, particularly dance and music. Lucknow’s reputation as a city of culture, gracious living and rich cuisine has continued to this day.
To get a true sense of the Old City, we recommend that you start at the Lal Pul bridge and end your trip at the Akbari Darwaza. The area in between forms the epicentre of old Lucknow. Along the way. you’ll see well-maintained Havelis, hole-in-the-wall chikan and zardozi embroidery workshops and authentic Tunday Kabab food stalls.
Here are a few iconic locations to look out for in Lucknow:
- Bara Imambara
This Shia Muslim shrine, commissioned in 1783 by Nawab Asafud-Daula to provide employment to locals, is easily the grandest Mughal-era structure in Lucknow.
2. Rumi Darwaza
The British army entered the Old City through this gateway after the revolt of 1857. The intricately crafted structure takes its name from a similar gateway in Istanbul, which was once calledRumiyyat-al-Kubra by the Arabs. The gateway is also close to the Chhota Imambara and the Machchi Bhavan Fort precinct.
3. Ulama-e-Farangi Mahal
Until the early 20th century Farangi Mahal, as it’s commonly known in Lucknow, housed a family run Islamic seminary. The establishment drew some of the brightest minds of the subcontinent, prompting many to call it the Cambridge of the Urdu-speaking world.
4. Maqbara Mir Anees
Here you’ll find the elabourate burial site of the 19th century Shia Muslim poet, who lived and died in Lucknow. Anees is credited with writing over 10,000 verses aulogising the martyrdom of the Praphet’s grandson Imam Hussein. Many of these verses are still recited during Muharram.