The second largest city of North and Central India after Delhi and the State Capital of Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow is a city that is different things to different people.
For some, it is the apogee of culture, finesse and craftsmanship that once had people calling it the Constantinople of India. For others it is a banquet of epic proportions where every street, every lane has a famous delicacy to be savoured. Some arrive here, their cameras in tow, to marvel at the architectural wonders, the museums and the slices of living history sprinkled all over the city. Others are forever enchanted by its literary and artistic heritage.
The modern Lucknow today is a bustling metropolitan. Home to over 3.5 million citizens, Lucknow has all the trappings of a modern cosmopolitan, worthy of being the State Capital of the most populous state in the country.
Its ever-expanding borders have ensured that Lucknow can be easily segregated into the New and Old Lucknow areas. While the New city boasts of wide, panoramic roads, parks, malls and the best restaurants and hotels, the old city boasts of architectural wonders, mosques, mausoleums and temples. Even when much has changed, certain parts of Lucknow still seem to belong more to a tale from Arabian Nights than a modern state capital.
For history buffs, the city is particularly well endowed with monuments and places of historical significance. The Asafi Imambada, the Chhota Imambada, Rumi Darwaza, the tombs of Saadat Khan and Begum Hazrat Mahal, Shahnajaf Imambada and Chattar Manzil are some of the better known and prominent among them, although the city is littered with hundreds of big and small imambadas and temples and shrines that would be impossible to catalogue together in a single blog post.
The Residency and the building of Constantia are amongst the finest examples of Indo-Sarcenic architecture to be found outside of Europe. The Zoological garden in the city is one amongst the oldest in the country with a State Museum boasting of Egyptian and Indus Valley Civilisation artifacts.
The city is a foodie’s delight with the best of Awadhi cuisine all gathered together its various nooks and crannies. A walk through the old city could have you salivating well before you get to taste the heavenly morsels with the spicy perfume of the Kebabs and Nahari and Biryani floating through the air wantonly. For old world charm and the authentic recipes, go to the Tunde’s and Rahim’s places in chowk area and you’ll know why flights from Lucknow always have at least one passenger who is carrying them onboard for friends and family back home. The city also boasts of several upscale restaurants and bars serving an eclectic mix of cuisines from across the world.
For better or for worse, Lucknow is and always has been a city in transition. The modern city has kept pace with the times but the character of the city is still laid back when compared to the frenetic pace of life in metros like Delhi and Mumbai. This easy pace of life, combined with the genteel ways of its populace is one of the many reasons why it makes for a great place to unwind in peace.