Area : 79 sq km.
History of Lucknow
The origin & history of Lucknow is truly intriguing not just to the historians but also to the common man. The history of Lucknow can be traced back to the ancient times of the Suryavanshi Dynasty. It is said that Lakshmana, who was the brother of Lord Rama, laid the foundation of the ancient city. This was near the Gomti River on an elevated piece of land. It was then called Lakshmanpur. However, the city came into notice only during the 18th Century. To know more about Lucknow history, read further the information given below.
It was during the year 1720 when the great Mughal emperors began to appoint Nawabs in order to ensure smooth administration in the province. In the year 1732, Mohammad Amir Saadat Khan was appointed as the viceroyal of Awadh, in which Lucknow was a major province. It was then that the powerful dynasty of the Nawabs, which changed the history of this unknown place. Under the rule of the Nawabs, Lucknow flourished like never before. After 1755, Lucknow grew by leaps and bounds under the rule of the fourth Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula. Lucknow flourished in each and every aspect, which includes poetry, dance, music and the other finer aspects of the lifestyle of Lucknow.
It was when the British came to India that Lucknow was made into an administrative capital. There were many uprisings during the British rule by Indian radicals and many ghastly incidents left Lucknow with bad memories. However, after independence Lucknow was declared the capital of the state of Uttar Pradesh by the Government of India. Since then it has progressed beautifully, merging skillfully the past with the present.
Sightseeing In LucknowKaiserbagh
Kaiserbagh is Wajed Ali Shah's most magnificent and spacious contribution to Lucknow. This sprawling complex consisted large, medium and small structures in the form of large rows of living quarters, royal mansions, baradaris, and cupolas. Almost half of the Kaiserbagh has withstood the vagaries of the time and has somewhat survived. Few important structures comprising Kaiserbagh are:Jaloo Khana
It was a massive gate on the northern side where Awadh Gymkhana is located now.Lakhi Gate
At the end of China Bazar with built-in quarters on the top.Huzur Bagh
This was the royal garden surrounded on three sides by the king's apartments. The main building was Shahenshah Manzil which faced the south. It is one of the buildings which now stands in front of the Lucknow Development Authority office.Chandiwali Baradari
This Baradari was near Huzoor Bagh. It was the Baradari where Prince Brijis Qadar was installed on the royal throne on 12th July 1857.Wazir Manzil
This was behind Shahenshah Manzil which was used as the 'reception' for waiting courtiers and visitors.Maqbara Amjad Ali Shah
located towards western end of HazratganjPicture Gallery
Not far from the clock tower is the picture gallery which has a collection of contemporary oil paintings of the Nawabs of Avadh. A little pond in front of the gallery has both hot and cold water in it.Aminabad
is in old Lucknow. It's a market with an old-world charm. Crowded with shops selling everything from truck tyres to mouthwatering biryani, it has the look of a permanent fair.Hazratganj
was built by Amjad Ali Shah. He was buried at Imambara Sibtainabad in the western part of Hazratganj.Charbagh station
Overpowering in dimensions yet aesthetically designed, Charbagh Railway Station was built in 1914 and combines the best of Rajasthani and Mughal architecture. True its name, it is said that four gardens were here at the time of the Nawabs. It gives an ideal, traditional warm welcome to every visitor.
KothisKabooter wali Kothi
Was built by Wajed Ali Shah for keeping the royal pigeons which were about two lakh in number. The building still stands to the east of the University bridge and is known as Oel House. The pigeons were often bought from the common people and gold and silver rings were put on their legs to distinguish them as royal pigeons.Tehri Kothi
Is Memorial Trust and UP Roadways depot has now been built. Prince Jawan Bakht the eldest son of Emperor Shah Alam stayed here on the way to Banaras when sent on exile after attacking English official, Charles Brown. It later on housed government offices of Nawabs.Bibiapur Kothi
Is the south-east of Dilkusha . The two-storeyed building was built under the direction of General Claude Martin for Nawab Asaf-ud-daula who often stayed there and used it as a hunting lodge. At 1798 he summoned Sa�dat Ali Khan from Benaras and welcomed him with an impressive durbar at Bibipur before taking him in procession to the city where he was proclaimed Nawab.Hayat Baksh Kothi
Government House stands on the site of the original Hayat Baksh Kothi. It was built during the reign of Nawab Sa�dat Ali Khan between 1793 and 1814. Around 1856, it became the residence of the Commissioner of Lucknow, and was known as Banks House. The first commissioner was a Major Banks after whom the Major Banks Road gets its name.Begum Kothi
Must not be confused with the house of the same name within the Residency. It is on the left hand side of the Hazrat Ganj, coming from the Cantonment. Till 1932, the house including a large group of buildings huddled round the central one was used as General Post Office. The Begum Kothi was built by King Amjad Ali Shah as a palace for his Queen, Malka Ahad Begum. The building was not conspicuous during the Mutiny till March 1858, when two batteries bombarded it continuously for 24 hours.Tara Kothi
Built by Nasiruddin Haider, was supposed to be an astronomical laboratory. The construction started during 1832 under the supervision of Captain Herbert, the engineer and the contractor was Raja Bakhtawar Singh. Once constructed, it was managed by Colonel Wilcox, the royal astronomer and two Indians, Kali Charan and Ganga Prashad.Toopwali Kothi
Is between Chini Gate and Awadh Gymkhana Clubon Laxmi Bai Marg. Here a gun was mounted by the rebels which created havoc with the English forces since it was covering upto Khurshid Manzil (La Martiniere Girls School).
Parks And GardensGautam Buddha Park
Situated in between the Bara Imambara and the Martyrs Memorial, this park has been a recreation ground for children. Rides, similar to those in the Appu Ghar of Delhi, are a big draw. Also used by political parties to hold rallies now. Nearby is the Elephant or the Hati Park, another recreation park. The lemon park or the Nibu Park of the Bara Imambara is also very popular.Zoo
Four km from the Charbagh station is the Lucknow Zoo or the Prince of Wales Zoological Gardens. The zoo comes under the Banarasi Bagh area. This Zoo, constructed in 1921, also has a museum, an aquarium and a toy train. The plane Rajhans used by Pt. Jawarharlal Nehru is also kept in the zoo.Chini Bazaar
Its existence is till remembered as an entrance to Qaiser Bagh. It was an exclusive market where English and Chinese merchandise were sold. Chinese jade and clay pottery along with glass items of decorations were the special attractions. There was also a garden in front of the gate, of the same name, extending upto Tara wali Kothi. The present triangular garden between Laxmi Bai Marg and K D Singh stadium is the remnants of that garden.
Forts & MonumentsBara Imambara
was buillt by Nawab Asafuddaula in 1784 A.D. when Avadh was gripped by severe famine. It shows a blend Mughal and Rajput schools of building and a shade of the Gothic. The excellence of this structure lies in its extensive interior. The structure took six years to be completed. Built over the hall is the 'Bhulbhuliya,' a maze of corridors in a honeycomb of architecture. More on bhulbhuliyan.Chota Imambara
or the Husainabad Imambara is a father's parting 'gift' to his daughter. It was built by the third Nabab, Muhamad Ali Shah for his deceased daughter Jenabasia, in 1840 A.D. The appeal of this structure lies in its furnishings comprising exquisite chandeliers of Belgium glass. The glittering brass-domes and ornate architecture of this building made a Russian Prince call it the "Kremlin of India." A small bazaar, known as the Gelo Khana or "Decorated Place", lies inside the imposing entrance of the Imambara and is the home of chikan and bidri workers and of those who make the small clay figures typical to Lucknow. Opposite the entrance is a similar structure, the Naubat Khana, where seven musicians play three times a day in honour of the dead.Rumi Darwaza
This huge 60-feet-high door was also built by Nawab Asafuddaula as part of a famine relief program. All classes of people helped in its construction. Preferring hard labour to beggary, the building was commissioned to help supplement their incomes. Surprisingly no wood or iron is used in the construction of this huge 'darwaza'. Also called the 'Turkey Darwaza,' it is the entrance to the Bara Imambara.Ghari Minar or the Clock Tower
Built in 1881 by the British, this 67 m-high clock tower on the river Gomti is said to the highest clock tower in India. The tower has European style artwork. The parts of the clock is built of pure gunmetal and the pendulum hangs 14 feet. The dial of this clock is shaped like a 12-petalled flower and has bells around it. It is located very near to the Rumi Darwaza.Vidhan Bhawan
In the British regime when Lucknow was made the capital of Avadh, Harfort Butler and Raja Sahib Mahmudabad joined hands to built the Vidhan Bhawan in 1922. At that time it took six years to complete and Rs. 18 lakh were spent on its construction. The Vidhan Bhawan is en route from Charbagh Station to the main market of Hazratganj.The Residency
The site for this complex was specifically chosen on a high elevation of the bank of the Gomti to accommodate British visitors who found the tropical climate uncomfortable. This residential complex became the traditional home of British residents. In 1857, heavy cross firing between the rebels and British badly damaged the structure. But it still continues to be a favorite picnic spot.La Marteniere
is soldier-architect Claud Martin's dream palace. Martin who established educational institutions in his hometown, Lyon and in Calcutta intended La Martiniere to be a seat of secular learning. But the school admitted students of European origin only, until India's independence.Dilkusha Palace
The Palace of Dilkusha "Heart�s Delight" was built by Nawab Sa�dat Ali Khan 1798-1814. It was erected as a hunting box in the center of a large park stocked with game. Nearby lay a large shallow lake upon which the Nawabs, especially Nasiruddin Haider, would hold bird shoots.Chattar Manzil
is near the Begum Hazarat Mahal park, on the banks of the Gomti. The United Service Club, otherwise the Greater Chattar Manzil, was once a king's palace. Under the existing river terrace was the 'ground floor'; below that were the tykhanas, cooled by the waters of the Gomti which lapped against the outer walls. Considering their size, surprisingly little is know about the Chattar Munzil Palaces. The name comes from the gilt chattars or umbrellas atop the two main buildings. On November 19 when Sir Colin Campbell decided finally to evacuate the Residency, the way to freedom lay through the Chattar Palace. Today this building houses the Central Medicine Research body. The Lal Baradari was also the part of Chattar Manzil and was built as Coronation Hall and Durbar Hall.Shah Najaf Imambara
Situated on the south bank of Gomti towards the west of Sikandar Bagh, the building is almost an exact replica of the tomb of Hazrat Ali, the son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad, at Najaf Ashraf in Iraq. It contains the remains of Ghazi Uddin Haider and his three wives Mubarak Mahal, Mumtaz Mahal and Sarfraz Mahal. Earlier the entrance of the mausoleum was from the Gomti side which has been abandoned now for the south one.Shahid Smarak
is a tall tower built of marble on the bank of Gomti built in the memory of the freedom fighters who laid down their life for the country. It is very close to the Residency.Machchi Bhawan
The emblem of two fishes facing each other was adopted by the Sheikhs of Lucknow and patronised by the Nawabs and the English. It was built by Burhan ul Mulk. The Bhawan comprised of number of buildings and existed as a fort. with vaulted halls with arches. When King George V visited Lucknow as Prince of Wales in 1905, he laid the foundation of the Medical College exactly on the spot where Machchi Bhawan existed in ruins. The college was opened for admission in 1912 and became the famous K G Medical College.Noor Baksh
The building is still in Lal Bagh area next to the Methodist Church and now known as Noor Manzil. It houses a psychiatric clinic for the mentally disturbed. It was believed to be built by Saadat Ali Khan as a school for royal children while others say Agha Mir, the Prime Minister was its owner. Rafi us Shan, son of Muhammad Ali Shah made this his residence till the end of Nawabi rule.Baoli
means a very deep and large well. Here the well is flanked by small well-furnished rooms with a winding stair case. There is a small opening from top to bottom for the circulation of cool air within rooms. Viscount Valentia has recorded his stay in Baoli Palace in 1803. One of the rooms about 20 square ft had three fountains for hot and cold water supply. Shahzada Aali Qadar Taimuri also stayed here alongwith his wife during Saadat Ali Khan's time. Wajid Ali was installed as Nawab in this building. The Sangi Dalan was a stone hall built parallel to Baoli and was probably used for holding the darbars before the venue was shifted to Daulat Khana complex.Satkhanda Mahal
Nawab Muhamad Ali Shah built this seven-storied palace in Italian and French style. Though the palace is in ruins, the splendor of the architecture is still visible. This tower like palace was built as a watch tower to keep watch on various buildings in Lucknow in those days.Saddat Ali Tomb
In front of the famous Begum Hazrat Mahal park are the tombs of Saddat Ali and his Begum Khurshidzadi. These tombs are built in the Italian style and are marvels of architecture. The tombs were built by Gaziuddin Haidar, the son of Saddat Ali. The lush green lawns around the tomb were witness to fierce rebel fighting at the time of the 1857 revolt.Sikanderbagh
This was the summer house of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah. Situated in the Sikander Bagh Gardens, gets its name from Begum Sikander Mahal who was the favorite wife of the Nawab. It was 120 square yards in area surrounded by a high wall, with a summer house in its centre. The garden now houses the National Botanical Research Institute of India.Moti Mahal
The Pearl Palace as the name suggests was constructed for the Nawab and his courtiers to watch cock fights from its balconies. Cock fights are still prevalent in Old Lucknow.
Fairs & Festivals in Lucknow
Shi'ite Muharram celebrations (the date varies from year to year) are also observed with much fanfare. Muharram is not a festival in the celebratory sense as it mourns the Karbala tragedy when Imam Husain, grandson of Prophet Muhammad, was martyred in the early days of Islamic history. This occasion is an important feature in the calendar of Lucknow as it is the principal Shi'ite Indian city since the time of the nawabs. This is also a spectacle of penitence as followers scourge themselves with whips at the Bara Imambara. It is observed in different ways in various parts of India.
Profusely decorated taziyas (bamboo and paper replicas of the martyr's tomb), embellished with gilt and mica are carried through city streets. Mourners beat their breasts lamenting and grieving over the murder, accompanied by drum beats. Wrestlers and dancers enact scenes depicting the battle at Karbala and at each step young men beat their breasts crying "Husain! Husain!" in collective sorrow.
This tragedy is observed with great passion in Lucknow, in particular, as it is the centre of Shia culture and religious activities, and accordingly a large number of taziyas and the alams (standards of Hazrat Imam Hussain's army) are taken out all over the city. In places other than Lucknow, the taziyas are taken out and buried in the local burial ground known as the Karbala.
Lucknow Mahautsav , a 10-day program begins on the 25th November and ends on the 5th December. Processions, kathak, gazals and sitar recitals evoke the old-world charm. A brilliant showcase of the arts, crafts, and above all the heavenly cuisine of Awadh, the festival is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Deva Mela - The annual urs of Haji Waris Ali Shah is celeberated during Oct. - Nov. months at Deva 10 km. from Barabanki. This fair attracts pilgrims from as far as Pakistan and the Middle East Countries. The shrine of the Sufi Saint is much revered by Muslim pilgrims all over the world
Shopping in Lucknow
Shopping areas: - Hazratganj, Aminabad and Chowk
The bazaars of Aminabad and Chowk are interesting even if you are window-shopping. In fact, there are few showrooms here; most of the shops flow into the streets with vendors sitting with their wares on the roads. Wholesale markets sell a wide range of goods: antique furniture, furnishings, utensils, dress materials, coolers, even vegetables. A good bargain is not difficult, if you have mastered the art of haggling.
In the narrow lanes of Aminabad you can buy attar - pure essentials oils extracted from flowers in the traditional manner and jhaalar (colourful tasselled borders for dupattas). In Chowk, there is a bird-sellers district known as Nakkas; pigeon-keeping and cock-fighting have been popular in Lucknow since the time of the Nawabs.
How To Reach Lucknow
By Air: Lucknow is well connected by direct and indirect flights from major cities in India.
By Rail: Lucknow Junction is well connected to Delhi by the Lucknow Mail and Shatabdi, to Mumbai by the Pushpak Express and to Kolkata by the Doon and Amritsar Express trains.
By Road: Lucknow is connected direct to New Delhi by NH 24. The city is linked to NH2 that connects Delhi to Kolkata via Agra, Varanasi and Allahabad.