Lucknow: Top 7 things to do
Lucknow has been the capital of Awadh, one of the most populous and resourceful territories of India. The city is a hub of many cultures spanning across diverse periods in history like the ancient Hindu kingdoms, the Mughal period and the British Raj, among others. Lucknow has deep roots in the past. It has also had enough transitions along the way to make it a unique mosaic of various subcultures. With its ornamental architecture to its delectable food, the city beckons people of all kinds for an immersive experience. We at Roobaroo Walks have curated a list of experiences you must try out to colour your travel with multisensory adventures!
1. Admire the golden splendour of Rumi Darwaza
A perfect example of the Awadhi style of architecture, the Rumi Darwaza is an embellished giant doorway. It reminds one of the royal troops attracting attention with bugles and pomp, perhaps announcing a queen’s imminent arrival. The genius of its architecture lies in the way it uses common building materials like bricks and lime for a grand and yet delicate design.
While the golden facade of the gate is exquisite at all times, we also recommend heading to the gate after sunset to see it beautifully lit-up. Catch a tonga ride from here to complete the majestic feel and head over to Chowk for some great Awadhi street food!
2. Experience the chilling tranquillity of the British Residency
We often hear about wars through stories because they seldom leave anything to show. Yet, the British Residency in Lucknow is a chilling site with literal battle scars. Built to house the British representative to Mughal courts, the Residency eventually became an administrative hub of the British Empire. In 1857, it witnessed a 6-month long siege by Indian revolutionaries. The peaceful grounds and buildings here simultaneously show the grandeur with which British residents lived and ruled, as well as the anger their rule invoked in the people through the bullet and canon marks all over the buildings. The museum inside the residency premises is a great stop to learn more about the siege.
Check out this cool photo essay for a walkthrough and brief history of the place.
3. Soak in some cosmopolitan vibe at Hazratganj Market
Originally constructed by the Nawabs of Awadh to indulge their tastes for finer things from China, Japan and Belgium, the Hazratganj Market continues to offer a variety of interesting experiences. The market has a number of places where you can buy the famous chikankari art of Lucknow. For a slice of history, do check out the Dilkusha Kothi, a Nawabi palace built in the English Baroque style and shelled during the war of 1857. If you’re a book-lover, we totally recommend paying a visit to ‘Ram Advani Booksellers, a 60-year-old iconic bookstore with an awesome seating area! The Indian Coffee House is another landmark worth paying a visit to.
4. Explore a maze at Asafi Imambara
This is the world’s largest arched hall that doesn’t have any pillars or beams. What makes it special is that this monument was built during the terrible famine of the 18th century to create employment for people. It is a large prayer hall used primarily for Lucknow’s renowned Muharram processions. Here’s the fun part: the Bara Imambara also has a maze of several corridors that one can get lost in. Further, it’s amazing how sound carries: you can hear a whisper from one end to the other!
5. Get a fantastic view of the city at Maqbara of Saadat Ali Khan
Located in the quieter and less touristy Kaiserbagh area, this is the resting place of the 5th Nawab of Awadh. You can head here for some peaceful time to appreciate Awadhi architecture. With permission from the guard, you can even climb up the monument and get an amazing view of the city! From up there, you also get to see that the structure has a double dome–what you see from the outside is much larger than what you see from inside! And what’s more, here you can actually go stand in between the 2 domes – a rarest privilege anywhere in India!
6. Gorge on Tunday kebabs and other delicacies at Chowk
When it comes to street food, Lucknow boasts of the best. Chowk is a great hub of Awadhi delicacies, the most iconic of which is Tunday kebab, served at an ordinary looking indistinguishable shop. Bite into the succulent Galawatis prepared from about 150 ingredients. You could also try the Nihari and Kulcha at Rahim ki Nihari, a favourite all time snack (originally a breakfast dish), as well as the famous Lucknowi biryani.
This area is also known for delectable sweets like kali gajar ka halwa and gulab jamun. Ram ashray ji’s sweet shop is a great joint to try these in. And you can savour some delicious poori sabzi at Kalli Ram’s.
For more details on street food in Chowk, read this well-written blog by Siddhartha Joshi.
7. Try homemade Awadhi delicacies at Naimat Khana
Located in Kaiserbagh, the Naimat Khana is a one of a kind restaurant that serves food cooked by Lucknow’s oldest households using their traditional recipes. So head over there for a taste of an Awadhi home!
Do you have any other awesome suggestions of things one must do when in Lucknow? Let us know!