Lucknow – City of Tahzeeb and Nazakat

While visiting Lucknow (my home town) last weekend, I thought about the kind of people visiting Lucknow and realized that tourists normally do not travel specially to ‘see’ Lucknow but visit it for work or on the way to some other city as it has an Airport and a major Railway Station.
Being originally from lucknow, i thought of sharing some information which may be useful for people who are passing by and would like to get around the city in-between trains/flights/meetings.

Lucknow offers some interesting places, markets, gardens, eating joints but depending on the time on hand, one can choose among following, but remember if you need to catch a flight, do take some time buffer before going for any of these places as Airport is around 30-45 minutes (depending on traffic) away from central part of city.

Bara Imam Bara:

Situated in old lucknow area, this old building is also called Asafai Imambara. Nawab used to hold their public hearings in central hall. It is said that this hall is the world’s largest arched room without any pillars.The upper floor, Bhulbhulaiya, is also famous as a fantastic labyrinth. It is believed that a stranger cannot come out of this maze without any assistance from some expert guide. From the top of this Imambara, is a fine view of the city and the Aurangzeb Mosque.

Other attractions at this place are – a ‘bottomless’ well in the courtyard and Rumi Darwaza, an exquisitely designed gate built by Asaf-ud-Daula, which is a replica of the one in Istanbul. The Imambara is open from 08:00am to 05:00pm. This place is around 1 hr away from Railway station.

Chota Imam Bara:

The Chota Imambara, or the Husaqinabad Imambara, is also known as the Palace of Lights. Built in 1837(comparatively newer than Bara Imambara), Chota Imambara is called the Palace of Lights because of its chandeliers that come alive during the Muslim festival of Muharram.

The Chota Imambara, with its golden dome, silver throne and gold-edged mirrors, is the grander of the two Imambaras. To the east of the Chota Imambara’s is a representation of the Taj Mahal. The false gate near the main entrance was where musicians performed to venerate the departed. In the Victoria Park, near the Imambara, are tombs of the British. Other interesting monuments around the Chota Imambara are the Dargah (shrine) of the Sufi saint, Hazrat Abbas; the Nadan Mahal with the tomb of Shaikh Abdur Rahi, Governor of Oudh, appointed by Emperor Akbar, and the tomb of the Sufi saint Ibrahim Chisti’s son. This place in more towards old lucknow so will take more than an hr to station.

Chattar manzil:

It was the most imposing building erected by the Nawabs. It can still be seen in its former glory from all the corners of Lucknow. Its gilded dome ‘chattar’, giving its name, is the prominent landmark. The Chattar Manzil, also known as the “Umbrella Palace”, stands near the present Hanuman Setu.

Its name is derived from the gilt dome with a covering umbrella, which provides a unique splendor to the complex. The European influence can clearly be seen in the architecture of this beautiful building. The building was used by Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI) for several years and few years back it was given back to its owners after shifting of CDRI to new building. This place is 30 minutes away from Railway station.

Residency:
The Residency became the stronghold of the British for 87 days during the Revolt of 1857, and is now in ruins.
Within its walls are numerous stories related to the siege, when 3,000 British men, women and children escaped from their homes to seek refuge in these red brick buildings. They fought Indian soldiers, the blistering heat and disease, until Sir Colin Campbell defeated the Indian forces on November 17. Only 1,000 of those who had taken shelter in the Residency survived.
What remains of the Residency has now been converted into government offices and a museum. Within the complex are graves of British soldiers who died fighting the Indian troops. This place resides in central part of lucknow so not to worry :-)

Lucknow – Baagon ka Shehar (City of Parks):
Lucknow is called Baagon ka Sehar because most of the locality names end with baag eg ‘Charbag’, ‘Phoolbag’, ‘Kaiserbag’,’Alambag’, ‘Lalbag’ ;-). Yes, this can be stated as one of the reasons for calling Lucknow as City of Baags but the main reason is the numerous Parks in central part of the mainly around Kaiserbag. There are around 9 to 11 Parks of mid to large size in central part of the city.

Some of the parks have some special attributes and are also famous for the same. ‘Haathi Park’ is famous for the Elephant made of cement, ‘Budhdha Park’ for the Big Budhdha status and boating,’Neemoo Park’ is famous for different types of fountains and so on.Even in the new Lucknow area there are new Parks developed by government. ‘Ambedakar Park’ and ‘Lohiya Park’ situated in ‘Gomti Nagar’ are worth a visit.

Ravindralaya & Rai Uma Nath Bali Auditorium :
Ravindralaya is situated right next to Railway station at P.N Road, Charbagh. So you can easily check here for interesting scheduled Plays and other cultural activities. Rai Uma Nath Audi is around 4 Kms from Railway station at Kaiserbagh, Lucknow. It is next to Amiruddaula library and Baradari in Kaiserbagh. Here also you can get a chance to see performances usually at evenings.

Hazrat Ganj & Aminabad (Places for shopping and Eating, Central Lucknow):

Aminabad is a huge market for embroidered chickan clothes, a specialty of Lucknow. The famous ‘Tunde ke Kabab’ is also located here. Some other interesting food items (dishes) which are famous in lucknow are Rahim-ke-kulche nihari, Bismillah-ki-biryani, Radhey-ki malai gilori and lassi, Raja-ki-thandai, Sharma-ki-chaat.

The Hazratganj area also has an upscale shopping market with colonial- style buildings. Interestingly, a popular pastime among the locals is window-shopping in the Hazratganj market. It is popularly referred to in Hinglish as Ganjing. The Janpath market, Rovers, Lovers Lane, Mayfair building, Kwality, and Universal book store are some popular landmarks of the market.

I was not carrying my cam in my last visit so arranged some pictures from different websites. i will try to update these with newer ones after my next trip to Lucknow.

  • very detailed and useful information. I have been to Lucknow twice, once on a work assignment and another for a personal event, guess next time I am better equipped on what to do in Lucknow.

  • Manish khamesra

    Aditya,

    Its a well written and quite informative account of Lucknow.
    Are there some particular shops for chicken embroidery clothes and how much bargaining one should expect?

    Are all famous eateries in Aminabad or at some other place too?

  • aditya

    Manish, Thanks for your words.

    There is as such no particular outlet but a lane of shops in Aminabad from where you can get good clothes at a good bargain. This lane is in front of a big park called ‘Jhandewala Park(Aminabad Park)’. More shops can be found in ‘Chowk’ Area(old lucknow) around Gol Darwaza where you can get good bargains. Generally you can expect around 10-25% bargain depending on cloth, work and the kind of shop.

    Chikan shops can also be found in New lucknow area (like new malls in Gomti Nagar and Indira Nagar) but you will definitely see some price difference here in comparison to old lucknow with lesser bargains.

    About Eateries, Chowk is the area for ‘Raja-ki-thandai’, ‘Radhey-ki malai gilori and lassi’. Lalbag is for ‘Sharma-ki-chaat’ (left side on road when you go from Lalbag circle to General Post office) .

    Most of the famous eateries belonged to old lucknow but now there are multiple outlets all around the city. So to get the latest information you just need to ask around.

  • Manish khamesra

    Thanks Aditya for the detailed information.

  • Patrick Jones

    Thanks, Aditya

    It would surely help me when we visit Lucknow later this month.

    Pat

  • tanya

    hi!
    i shall be reaching lucknow on monday for a work trip. m totally free on monday as my work is scheduled for tuesday n would be leaving by the tuesday evening flight. since monday is eid do suggest places i can visit (that would be open) and that arn’t too crowded….
    do lemme know….

  • Mahesh Semwal

    @ Tanya , The main attraction in Lucknow are Bada Imambara , Chota Imambara , Residency & Ambedkar park. Bada Imambara & Chota Imambara will be crowded because of eid. Bhulbulia is also a part of Bada Imambara.

  • tanya

    Thanks for the info Mahesh….i coudnt visit any of these places except the hazratganj market area coz thats where i stayed :(

    • Mahesh Semwal

      Better luck next time :-)

  • vikas srivastava

    Hi Aditya,

    Nice article written. Though I visited Lucknow quite a few times but never got such a detailed information even from the local residents.
    It seems they are more busy in making a mess of such a royal and heritage city. There are so many hiccups and nuisances you will find in that city which should not be there particularly on that piece of land to which people address as – urban place and place of educated persons. These are the reasons for disappointment and frustrations. You know what we call in Hindi – ek acche khasse shaher ka satyanash karke rakh diya hai.

    Anyway, part and parcel of life. Other wise a good city.

    There is one more specific purpose of writing this. Can you suggest some good hotels (I do not mean costly and luxurious) for a comfortable stay in Lucknow. I cam to know that there is lots of cheating and inflated rates of hotels and they are not so good in service, cleanliness and maintenance. I am looking for good, decent, maintained hotel for family stay-that includes females too – a kind of budget hotel or service apartments.

    Thanks,
    Vikas