Loving Lucknow: Places to see
Often described as the ‘City of Nawabs’, Lucknow is one of the most pristine and multicultural tourist destinations of India. The city primarily flourished during the 18th and the 19th centuries as an artistic and cultural centre of India under the reign of the Nawabs of Awadh. The city is also the second largest city of North India and the 11th largest city in the country. The city contains various architectural wonders, historical monuments, cuisines and is a cultural hub in itself. Here’s the list of best places you must visit in Lucknow.
The Bara Imambara was built in the year 1784 by Asaf-ud-Daula, the fourth Nawab of Awadh. Created as part of a famine relief program, it marks one of the earlier attempts in Lucknow to imitate the structure of a Mughal complex. This is one of the few buildings in Lucknow completely devoid of European elements. The building is part of the Asaf-ud-Daula Imambara Complex, which contains a mosque, several courtyards and gateways, and a ‘bawali’ or step-well that was once used as a summer palace. The central hall of Bara Imambara is said to be the largest arched hall in the world: over 15 meters tall, the arch remarkably spreads across 800 square meters but requires no ceiling support beams or pillars, standing steady to this day.
Another congregation complex of the Shia Muslim sect, The Chota Imambara was built in 1838 by Nawab Muhammad Shah Ali. The complex also serves as the tomb for the Nawab who is buried there alongside his mother. Right outside the complex also lays the 4 storied Satkhanda, an unfinished watchtower or observatory which was supposed to have 7 stories. The Nawab wanted to make a tower as tall as the Qutab Minar and is like the Leaning Tower of Pisa in design.
The Lucknow Zoo is one of the city’s main tourist attractions. Frequented by locals and outsiders alike, this zoo has been instrumental in educating Lucknow’s masses about the importance of the environment and preserving wildlife. The Lucknow Zoo is home 447 mammals, 348 birds, and 57 reptiles, and between those many creatures you’ll find 97 different species of wild animals. Their most popular inhabitants include the Royal Bengal tigers and white tigers, as well as lions, wolves, Hoolock gibbons, Himalayan black bears, and Indian rhinoceros. Since 1969, the zoo has also operated a Toy Train for family entertainment.
The British Residency of Lucknow is a famous historical landmark. This large collection of gardens and ruins offer a fascinating historical glimpse into the first stages of the fall of the British Raj; the British Residency once served as a refuge for approximately 3000 British inhabitants during the time of the uprising of 1857 (India’s first revolt against the British for independence). The compound has been left as it was at the time of the final relief, and the walls are still marked from those bullets and cannonballs.The Residency’s grounds also contain around 2000 graves of British soldiers who died during the struggle. The main Residency building hosts a museum which is a must-see for your visit to this site of rich historical conflict.
The site formerly known as the Constantia House is now housed by the La Martinière College. The building is located on a terraced location which was a lake at some point. The architecture is mixed style that combines various techniques of Italian architecture. The college is one of the only educational institutions to receive a battle honor due to its role during the Seige of Lucknow.
Hazaratganj is a major shopping district in the heart of Lucknow. It was first established in 1810 by Nawab Saadat Ali Khan, who had acquired the throne with the help of the British in January 1798. Named after Hazrat Ali, the fourth caliph, this market has several lanes that were historically bohemian, frequented by artists and patrons of music, perfumes and poetry. Throughout the ages, this market was a favorite of British officials, Nawabs, and zamindars alike for leisurely walks through the center of town. Today, Hazratganj is a busy area where you’ll find a high concentration of Lucknow’s local bazaars. Shoppers may walk away with a traditional white Chikan (a type of hand embroidery using cutwork and shadow work), or a brand new kurta or saree.
Also known by the name, Turkish Gate, the Rumi Darwaza was built in 1784 by the Nawab Asaf-ud-daula. The monument is a massive gateway which is one of the best specimens of Awadhi Style architecture. The monuments grandness in design is often compared to that of Rome and the Ottoman Empire and marks the entrance to the old city of Lucknow.
The name Chattar Manzil literally means the Umbrella Palace and was the residence to the Nawabs of Awadh and their successors. The palace was constructed in the 1780’s and became one of the major strongholds of the revolutionaries during the 1857 uprising. The architectural style of the original building was a cross between Indo-European styles and was later restored by the British according to their preferences.