A land of glory imbued in the culture of its glorious past,
A land of tales, told untold every so often, of a history that will forever last.
Lucknow, as we know it, is the city of dreams, of unfulfilled pleasures, of echoes of distant past, entrenched in colours of Mughal glory. A city to visit, savour, and remember.
If legends be believed, it was named after Lord Rama’s brother Lakshman who called this place his capital. When the Mughal Empire was declining, the Emperor started bestowing lands on men from among the royalty and gave them the title of Nawab. The nawabs enjoyed immense wealth and luxuries and the echoes of their lifestyle continue to be felt in Lucknow.
Today we bring you a list of the best things about the city:
Legacy of the Courtesan
The city also finds a steady mention worldwide owing to the erstwhile courtesans that so entranced the royalty for years. The courtesans, unlike their stereotypical image of being mere pleasers, were educated in manners of the court, were fluent in Persian and Urdu and invested in various art forms. Some wrote delicious verses and several practised the beautiful dance form, Kathak. Who can forget the epitome of grace and desire, Umrao Jaan, who has charmed generations.
Walls of Fame: Architectural Delight
Lucknow’s crowning glory is its breathtaking architecture. An inside look at famous spots such as several Islamic mosques, Rumi Darwaza, Bara Imambara and the Tahikhanas can give you a view of the yester year glory of Lucknowi architecture. Most sought-after spots are the following:
- Rumi Darwaza, whose architecture boasts of a unique mix of Mughlai and Turkish forms.
- Sikandar Bagh, an enclosed villa surrounded by a beautiful garden, probably named after the great Alexander.
- Of course, the Bada Imambara with its astounding vaulted walls, complex pathways, and doorways.
- Chattar Manzil that has intriguing underground rooms covered by an umbrella-shaped dome.
Lucknow is home to some of the best fragrances in the world; it is the birthplace of ittar. The production of attar or ittar that literally means ‘scent’ in Arabic, was spearheaded by the Mughal princess, Noor Jahan, who pioneered the art of extracting the fragrance out of a rose flower using the process of distillation and converting it into a fragrant liquid. Attar is available in several varieties like rose attar, bakul attar, zafari attar, rajanigandha attar, kewda attar, champa attar and saffron attar.
Must-do: Load stocks of attar bottles.
The Food – Shahi Daawat
Lucknow is a food lover’s haven. One can enjoy melt-in-the-mouth shami kebabs, oriental Mughlai dishes, and mouthwatering desserts right at the street corner, or at a luxury hotel. Food loyalists suggest that the best way to enjoy the flavour of the city is to savour a dish at the common man’s favourite joint.
Lucknowi Craftsmanship – An art par excellence
Lucknow is also a shopper’s delight. Feel free to splurge on authentic chikan karigari (detailed thread work done by adept Lucknowi craftsmen), exquisite zardosi (embroidery work done using silver and gold threads) and Lucknowi shawls. Most popular shopping areas include Aminabad, Hazratganj, and Janpath, though you might want to steer clear of the crowd and chaos at the latter.
The City for a Tourist
Travelling within the city is easy and affordable. The most suited means of travel for the eager tourist is an auto rickshaw or bus where you can catch every sound and sight of the city. It’d be wise to be a little wary of any unforeseen incidents such as mugging or pick pocketing.
Best time to visit: Between October to December and February to April
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