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Located in the northern part of India, Lucknow is a city rich with culture and history. Unfortunately, it tends to get overlooked by tourists hoping to hit the Golden Triangle (Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur). While all of these places are definitely worth visiting, I would argue that Lucknow has a charm all its own. So if you’re planning a trip to the north of India, you should consider including this metropolis in your itinerary. Here’s a few of my favorite Lucknow lookouts:
Ticket Price: Rs. 200 for tourists.
India is such a unique country that it’s often easy to forget it was under British rule up until quite recently (the 1940s). The British Residency stands as a fresh reminder to the scars of this history and is quite a fascinating stop in Lucknow. While I have to admit I wasn’t very impressed when I arrived at the gates, I was happy afterwards that I had the chance to visit!
During the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the Residency, which is located in the heart of the city, was under siege. The British managed to fend off the Indian rebels until reinforcements arrived, but eventually did retreat and abandon the compound. What’s great about seeing the British Residency today is that there is a definite combination of cultures. The buildings all maintain the original Mogul style of architecture, but with some British details as well. It’s a place where two cultures literally collided, and eventually the conquering culture was defeated. You can still see holes in the walls where bullets and cannonballs hit all those years ago, and there’s an ancient mosque which still functions daily as a center for prayer.
Ticket Price: Rs. 500 for tourists.
Few things stand as a proud monument to the glories of the nawabs of old the way Bara Imambara does. This enormous complex was built by Shia Muslims way back in the 1700s, but still hasn’t lost an iota of its ancient beauty and mystery. For the price of Rs. 2, you can leave your shoes to be guarded outside and step into the cool, green interior of this gorgeous structure.
Tunnels and mazes surround the complex and can be quite a lot of fun to get lost in. Legend has it that there used to be tunnels leading as far as Delhi, but they were blocked off after explorers started getting lost inside. The Bara Imambara complex is also home to an enormous well. Steps lead down into its depths and in the olden days people would wash their feet here before going to worship. Today, the gardens surrounding the complex are open to the public and it’s quite common to see couples picnicking or families out enjoying a sunny Saturday afternoon. Be sure to buy some chai from the tea sellers who carry their wares around in baskets and serve it in clay jars. Best chai in the world, I guarantee it.
Chikan is a special embroidery style that is native to Lucknow. It’s impossible for me to travel to India without coming away with at least one new kurta (traditional Indian dress). Wherever you go, the clothes are beautiful and Lucknow’s chikan embroidery is particularly lovely.
Try your luck at Aminabad Market if you’re looking for great deals on not just clothes. This bustling bazaar is one of the oldest markets in the city and you can find everything from wedding clothes to jewelry to street food. Stop at one of the many roadside carts to get some beautiful henna done, then pick up a chikan kurta or two to wear back home. I’m sure you can find a suitable occasion for such royal-looking outfits!
Have you visited Lucknow? What are some of your favorite places to see in this amazing city?