Home
Destination of the Month

Lucknow

Interestingly, the etymology of Lucknow dates back to the times of Ramayana when Shri Ramchandra of Ayodhya, gifted this territory to his devoted brother Lakshman after conquering Sri Lanka and completing his term of exile in the jungle. Hence, people say that the original name of Lucknow was Lakshmanpur, popularly known as Lakhanpur or Lachmanpur in early days. The city of Ayodhya itself, forty miles away from Lakshmanpur, was reported to be full of great riches.

In modern India, Lucknow is the capital city of Uttar Pradesh and has always been a multicultural city. The best part about this city is its vintage charm of yore aptly amalgamated with modern times. Courtly manners, beautiful gardens, poetry, music, and fine cuisine patronized by the Persian-loving Shia Nawabs of the city are well known amongst Indians and students of South Asian culture and history. Lucknow, popularly known as the The City of Nawabs has many more adjectives crowned to it which include the Golden City of the East, Shiraz-i-Hind and The Constantinople of India. Each of these names has a significant mark in the history of Lucknow.

This city of Nawabs emanates a culture that combines a high degree of sophistication, emotional warmth, courtesy and a love for gracious living. This sublime cultural richness famous as 'Lucknowi Tehzeeb' blends the cultures of two communities living side by side for centuries, sharing similar interests, speaking a common language -Urdu. Many of the cultural traits and customs peculiar to Lucknow have become living legends today. Lucknow has been part of innumerable political and cultural upheavals and has witnessed the essence of varied governance through portals of time. Be it the Mughal or British Raj, Lucknow has beautifully preserved the footprints of past era for the current generation to draw inspiration from and revel in the same.

Lucknow has carved a niche for its handicraft works which include exquisite Chikankari work, a unique craft involving delicate and artistic embroidery in a variety of textile fabric namely muslin, siIk, chiffon, organza, doriya and organdy. A variety of 36 types of stitches are used in chikan work. Lucknow has produced many renowned artisans of chikan work like Ustad Faiyaaz Khan and Hasan Mirza Saheb. Besides chikan work, Zardozi and Kamdani works of Lucknow have also won accolades worldwide. Exquisite silverwares like bowls, tea-sets, salt cellars with patterns of hunting scenes, snakes and roses are very popular in Lucknow. The Bidri and Zarbuland silver works of Lucknow are a renowned source of inspiration for famous designers across continents. Fine pottery from Lucknow is yet another work of art that has captured the imagination of the consumers. The long necked water pitchers (suraahi) and huqqa farshi are especially popular. 'Attar'('Itr') or perfumes which were introduced in India by the Muslims, reached a new height in Lucknow. Since the 19th century, Lucknow perfumers experimented and succeeded in making attar with delicate and lasting fragrances.

The city of Lucknow offers its visitors a plethora of mouthwatering culinary delights, well nurtured and preserved over centuries. Lucknow is one place that has a colony of chefs called 'Bawarchi Tola' and then there is a full street where one can find the best from Lucknow's very own kitchens. Till date Lucknowites spend most of their earnings in their kitchens. Gastronomes across are attracted to this mystical city which offers a treat for their taste buds. An evening walk will allow you to hop-in, hop-out of the traditional roadside eateries making you try the best that is on the menu. You can also Dine with the aristocratic family on the floor level setting called, Dastarkhwan and enjoy home-cooked Awadhi meal.

Lucknow is a destination where one can enjoy a full day guided sightseeing tour which would encompass a visit to Bada Imambada (Asafi Imambada), Chhota Imambada (Hussainabad Imambada), Rumi Darwaza, Picture Gallery, The Residency, Dilkusha Garden and La Martiniere College. The Bada Imambada also known as Asfai Imambada was constructed by the fourth Nawab, Barak Imambada Asaf-ud-Daula in 1784. The central arched hall in the middle is the largest arched hall in the world that is made without any pillars and absolutely no use of girders and beams. It is also known as "Gravity Defying Palace'. It is also known for its incredible maze called Bhulbhulaiya, a complicated entanglement of zig-zag pass. The Chhota Imambara also known as Imambara of Hussainabad in the old city was built by Mohammed Ali Shah in the second year of his rule in 1839 and is one of the most beautiful and attractive buildings. This Imambada looks magnificent with its golden dome, gold-edged mirrors and silver throne. This enchantingly beautiful monument holds an interesting story behind its glittering facades. Rumi Darwaza is another architectural bliss located in the city of Lucknow. The word "Rumi" is derived from the modern day Rome that used to be Istanbul, the capital city of Eastern Roman Empire. The 60 feet high Rumi Gate was constructed under Nawab Asafl-us-Daula in 1786. The Rumi Darwaza of Lucknow is also known by the name of Turkish Gateway since it is considered identical to a similar gateway in ancient Constantinople.

Some other famous walks apart from the culinary walk are the Heritage walk, Victorian walk and Flea market walk. Heritage walk takes you through the lanes and by-lanes of Chowk, thus allowing you to explore the vast history which this city of superlatives holds. It is believed that every building in the old city of Lucknow a gamut of tales connected to it. The term, flea market, might have originated from a theory, where people sold old stuff, often infested with blood sucking pesky little parasites or may be the markets that fly off after a day of sale at one location to another, but whatever the theory of its origin be, these markets often are very exciting to be in and at times to close a great deal too. The Victorian walk through Hazratganj gives you a peek into the rich history, legacy and of course the market that has evolved with times to cater the cultured and the elite of Lucknow. The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20th June 1837 until her death on 22nd January 1901. This was a period of great Indian Mutiny of 1857 which completely changed the way Indians and Britons lived, worked and thought. On one hand it records devastation and on another it is the period of art, literature, culture and style. Hazratganj is a place that has witnessed all of this and survived the strong winds that have surely impacted its fabric, changed cultures and lifestyle yet can recite a story that starts from the early years of Queen Victoria and travels through the Edwardian into the 2nd World War and further up till date.

Once upon a time there were two Nawabs waiting to board a train at the railway station. They both were overtly busy trying to give way to each other and kept uttering "Pehle aap…pehle aap." This epitome of generosity continued till the train finally left the station and both these noble men were left stranded on the platform. This is a grandma tale we all grew up on, yet truly denotes the level of hospitality and courteousness displayed by the people of a city most fondly remembered and addressed to as Lucknow.