The “City of Nawabs”, Lucknow is a land, where tehzeeb (culture) and tameez (grace) are placed high on the cultural landscape. Famed for its architectures dating back to the Mughal and British era, Lucknow is one of the cultural hubs in India. The beauty of language spoken by the people, the graceful twirls of the Kathak dancers, intricate details of the stitch of chikankari, inviting smell of the kebabs, the irresistible plethora of street food and melting sweets, Lucknow offers imitable cultural experiences that broaden your sense of heritage in India. A unique blend of ancient, colonial and oriental architecture, this bustling city paints the fineness of the Nawabi era of India. The capital city of Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow, offers a wide range of places to visit for the tourists. Here are the top places in Lucknow that one should not miss.
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One of the top places to visit in Lucknow is the magnificent Bara Imambara, built in the year 1784 by Asaf-ud-Daula. One of the iconic landmarks of the city, Bara Imambara is nothing less than an architectural wonder. The central hall of the architecture is said to be the largest vaulted chamber in the world. A labyrinth of thousand passageways, known as Bhool-Bhulaiyan, is a sheer result of the architectural genius and can confuse you with its complex mess of zig-zag passages.
It is always advised to take a tour of the place with authorized guides. The Bara Imambara is a part of the Asaf-ud-Daula Imambara Complex. Once used as the summer palace, it has several courtyards, gateways, the mosque, and a ‘bawali’ or step-well as well.
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The scintillating architecture of Chota Imambara in Lucknow, adorned with the finest calligraphy, is one of the exceptional monuments of Mughal eras. Known as Hussainabad Imambara and located to the west of Bara Imambara, is galore with chandeliers, lights, and beautiful walls.
The “Palace of Light”, the Chota Imambara is one of the most stunning architectural heritage of the city. The aesthetically designed interior gives you a royal taste of Nawab.
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The iconic landmark of Lucknow, the Rumi Darwaza is referred as the identical gate to the old gate in Istanbul called Bab-iHümayun. It is called Turkish Gate as well and was built by Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula during the famine of 1784, with the purpose of generating employment for the people. In the older times, The Rumi Darwaza was considered as the gateway to the old city of Lucknow.
The intricate details and beautifully carved flowers give a spectacular look to this outstanding gate. The 60 feet tall gate has a huge sized lantern placed on the top, which helps to illuminate the structure at night, giving it an eye-arresting look.
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One of the top places to visit in Lucknow is the Residency. Built during the reign of Nawab Saadat Ali Khan in 1780-1800, it was basically a large complex of buildings including the quarters, armoury, stables, dispensaries, and so on. It saw the first war of independence in 1857 which started from July 1st and continued until November 17, 1857.
It was known as Siege of Lucknow. It served as the refuge for approximately 3000 British inhabitants during the war and contains around 2000 graves of British soldiers who died during the struggle. The building complex also has a museum which is a must-visit for history buffs.
La Martiniere College
Why do you need to visit La Martiniere College in Lucknow? Well, if nothing compels you to visit, the sheer delight of the colonial architectural gem, that it is, will convince you to visit. Established in 1845, the college was founded in accordance with the Will of Major General Claude Martin. Upon his death in 1800 in Lucknow, his Will came into the picture, which allocated certain fund for the establishment of schools in Lyon, his birthplace in France, in Calcutta and Lucknow. His Will further stated, “My house at Luckperra or Constantia House with all the ground and premises belonging to the house and all the ground around it, none is to be sold or detached from it.”The Will was questioned and faced a lot of court hearings in that period and later the Supreme Court, on 22 December, 1841, laid down a scheme for the establishment of La Martiniere College, at Lucknow.
The college also played an important role in the events of 1857 in Lucknow when the British called on schoolboys to assist in the military conflict. It is considered to be very unique in the history of the world, when the Principal, Masters and Boys of La Martiniere defended an extremely exposed part of the southern perimeter of the Residency. They withstood infantry and artillery attacks and were also subjected to mining operations.The college was awarded bearing the legend “Defence of Lucknow”, 1857 for the outstanding role it played in the events of 1857. The La Martiniere College is the only college which enjoys this distinction in the world.
The architecture of the La Martiniere College is simply outstanding. Whether it is the Constantia House, which is a heritage building, the famous Blue Room (formal reception room), Trophy Room, and College Chapel, the royal colonial architectures and the minute details on them are remarkable.
Especially, the impressive chapel is worth a visit. Flanked by the century old furniture, the detailed designs and motifs on the walls and ceiling, the yellow and blue color, the chandelier, wooden benches, the stained glass windows,etc., make it one of the most beautiful chapel in any college campus. It is absolutely eye-arresting. La Martiniere College is one of the well preserved colonial buildings in India.
Dilkusha Kothi Palace
Dilkusha Kothi palace, situated in the heart of the Lucknow city, is quite an interesting site. Also known as English house, the Dilkusha Kothi was built during the reign of Nawab Saadat Ali Khan. The Palace served as a Farmhouse for the Nawab where he used to come with his family and friends for recreation. The architecture of the palace is eye-catching as it is European-Gothic style, built amidst a plush garden.
The building shares staggering resemblance to the style of Seaton Delaval Hall in Northumberland, England. Unlike traditional palaces in India, the Dilkush Kothi has patterned walls and no inner courtyard. The building is taller than any traditional palace architecture in India. The Dilkusha Kothi was shelled during Lucknow siege in 1857 together with the Residency. Unfortunately, only the ruins can be seen there now.
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One of the prominent architectures of Lucknow is the Jama Masjid. During the reign of Muhammad Ali Shah, the construction of Jama Masjid was started in 1837. One of the architectural marvels of India, the Jama Masjid reflects the Mughal architecture with a twist. The designs of the pillars are influenced by the Hindu and Jain culture. This magnificent structure is spread across 4,950 square meters, with a total of 260 pillars in the western part alone.
Places to Eat
Kebab at Tunday Kababi, Aminabad
If you are in Lucknow, sampling the famous Galauti Kebab at Tunday Kababi in Aminabad is absolutely mandatory. The moment you step inside the crowded lane in Aminabad, the smell of kebabs just entice you immediately. I was amazed to see the crowd there. In spite of it being a rainy day, the eating area was full at Tunday Kababi.
As recommended, I ordered the famous mutton kebab and paratha and I can vouch for the tastes. The kebabs melted like ice-creams and the flavor of kebab along with the paratha was simply delicious. Whenever you are there, do try their Sheermal (Sweet naan) as well. Apart from Kebabs, you can also try an array of various other dishes at their restaurant.
Kulfi at Prakash Kulfi, Aminabad
If you have a sweet tooth, then do try the famous Faluda Kulfi at Prakash Kulfi, located just a few steps ahead of Tunday Kababi in Aminabad. It’s a small shop, known only for their Kulfi.
Relish Chaat at Royal Café, Hazratganj
One of the popular chaat options in Lucknow is the famous Basket Chaat at Royal Café in Hazaratganj. This is the best chaat I have ever had till now. A must try in Lucknow for sure. Don’t forget to meet the most energetic and hospitable Hardayal Maurya at the Royal Café.
Do Try Makkhan Malai, Chowk
If you are around Chowk area, you must try the Makkhan Malai, which is readily available on the street. Also known as Nimish, this sweet dish is a light, fluffy one, made of cow milk, flavored with saffron and rose water.
Sharma ki Chai, Hazratganj
If you are a chai (Tea) lover, a visit to the popular outlet in Hazaratganj is absolutely worthwhile. I visited it in the morning on a rainy day. Known only for the tea, samosa and the Maska Bun, it tastes really good. There is no sitting arrangement, though the tables are laid around the shop. Sharma ki Chai in Lucknow is my strong recommendation for tea lovers.
Where to stay
There are a wide variety of hotels and resorts to accommodate all kinds of travelers from the budget, backpackers to luxury once in the City of Nawabs. Among them, one of the top luxury recommendations is Renaissance Hotel in Lucknow.
I have recently come across a platform named Cozycozy which provides more than 1000+ hotels in Lucknow, and other accommodations. The best thing about this platform is that the results it displays are searchable on the map, so you can easily find a place to stay based on your favorite monuments in the City of Nawabs.
How to reach
The capital city of Uttar Pradesh is well connected through flights, trains, and buses in India. There are various modes of transportation, depending on the location you are traveling to in Lucknow.
Flights: There are regular flights from the major cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Jaipur and Mumbai in India for Lucknow. The Lucknow airport is 14 kilometers away from the main city.
Train: There are a good number of trains available from the major cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Thiruvananthapuram, Chennai, Kolkata, etc., which are directly connected to Lucknow.
Bus: You can choose to travel to Lucknow by bus from the nearby cities like Agra, Kanpur, Allahabad, Delhi, and Dehradun.
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