Lucknow continues to reign hearts as its modern day avatar matches steps with its past
Lucknow has over the years seen monumental change when it comes to old monuments rubbing shoulders with new structures that give Lucknow a new look and feel, retaining the old Nawabi era identity of a city steeped with culture and history.
Entering Lucknow city from the outskirts with a welcome message reading – Muskuraaiye Aap Lucknow mein hain, pretty much sums up the experience that the city has on offer. A uniquely memorable experience, Lucknow’s exquisiteness makes one speechless, and it allures history buffs, foodies and explorers alike.
Lucknow has been the muse of many a artist, literary doyen and filmmaker. Where modern landmarks coexist with architectural wonders of the Nawabi era.
With passage of time, Lucknow has come to typify that one place where one can go and breathe easy under an open sky in many new and old destinations which include Ambedkar Park, Kanshi Ram Memorial, Fountain Park and ofcourse the age old relics of the Nawabi era that still stand tall.
Beautiful parks, fountains, light and sound shows coupled with the eco garden experience continues to regale the Lucknow populace at large.
Sample this, regular efforts by the tourist department have ensured nearabout three lakh 50 thousand tourists coming to visit Ambedkar Park alone.
The 700 meters long and 30 meters wide river front makes up for a perfect Awadhi evening stroll. For outsiders Asia’s tallest 18-foot fountain in the Kanshi Ram memorial has always been a wonder for the eyes to behold.
Add to that the ‘Buddhist Vihar (Shanti Upvan), Bangla Bazaar’ and Smriti Upvan all making the experience of the modern Lucknow life memorable.
As the modern shares space with the pristine, the Bara Imambara since 1784 continues to give the Lucknowite a unique landmark that none else can boast of. With the longest 50 meters arched hall, at the Bara Imambara sans support lets you immerse in the folklore of the bygone era. Rubbing shoulders with it are the Asifi Mosque and Shahi Bauli.
1.5 kilometres west of Bara Imambara, a marvel with white texture and a mosaic of green patterns the Chhota Imambara from the 19th century holds its allure among visitors with lamps and chandeliers that houses the tomb of Muhammad Ali Shah and his family.
The centrally located over 200 year old boulevard, Hazratganj is a renowned attraction, placed in the city’s central area, the best place to shop, slurp, eat and talk to your hearts fullest. Ganj is intact with a number of coffee shops and fine dining restaurants like Royal Cafe, Jone Hing, and Chedilal. The popular Paanch Pani Ke Bataashe is still quite a mouth watering experience. Ganj’s vicinity also comprises a number of iconic historical monuments, for instance, the Dilkusha Kothi and Lucknow Residency.
Lucknow’s Marine Drive is equally popular amongst locals, who make sure their guests and friends from other cities arriving in the city visit this comparatively new attraction. A magnificent long stretch road it is known for speed racers moving on wheels. Dotted with sculptures of elephants aligned uniformly coloured in reddish brown the calming ambiance where young music fanatics play some soothing hindi songs with acoustic guitars continues to attract Youngistan.
When in Aminabad, you do what the average Lucknowite does. As the oldest market in Lucknow, since the reign of Nawabs of Awadh, the USP of Aminabad bazaar is the popular Tunday Kebab and Prakash Kulfi, it is impossible to miss out on these two outlets. One gives you a chance to hog on plates full of kebabs, mutton biryani and tandoori chicken and the other offers a frozen treat by savouring kesari falooda kulfi.
A major crowd puller for both shopaholics and foodies, in Chowk you can see the cultural and historical heritage of the city. A busy business point, it is popular for its divine makhan malai and Rahim’s nahari kulcha. A true blue Awadh fan has Chikan Garments, a collection of itra, traditional and modern ornaments, handicrafts and handcrafted products like knifes, lampshades, ivory shirt pins, nagra shoes, and chappals that keep you in good humour.
Covering 71.6 acres of land, Lucknow Zoo is in the midst of the bustling city. Species like the royal and white Bengal tiger, gray wolf, Asiatic lion, hoolock gibbon, Himalayan black bear, blackbuck, swamp deer, Asiatic elephant, silver pheasant etc stroll with that unmistakable wild streak. An added attraction is the British-era Vintage train and the State Museum.
Meanwhile standing tall as the last of the remaining symbols of the sepoy mutiny in the city, British Residency is a famous attraction that must be visited. The complex houses several buildings constructed during the rule of Nawab Saadat Ali Khan II.
Amidst much of the talk about expenditure on building memorials, several of the new age structures have in recent years attracted people to the city. Many of the structures in Lucknow are emerging as a centres of social harmony. Many of which make the Awadhi evening worth it.
From the serene facade of the Gomti riverfront to the Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar’s Udyan and Prerna Sthal and places like the JP Convention Centre, the tallest flagpost in Janeshwar Mishra Park along with the multitude of memorials created by Maywati add to the look of the city.
The biggest change is visible on the southern part of the capital. It is from here that the VIP road starts and on entering the grand entrance on the right is the Buddhist Vihar Shanti Upvan.
The 18-foot tall white marble all-round statue of Gautam Buddha is an eye catcher. 16 feet high white marble statues of Kanshi Ram and Mayawati have also been installed.
Officials claim that the domes of ‘Kanshi Ramji memorial site’ spread over 86 acres is worth Rs 507 crore and one of the largest domes in the world. The Kanshi Ram Ji Green (Eco) garden spread across 112 acres houses panoramic and green wide area. Two 52-foot high bronze fountains are the tallest fountains in the world.
Located at a distance of 40 kilometers from Lucknow is the Nawabganj Lake. It is a colorful bird sanctuary. It has a motel run by the Tourist Department.
Meanwhile fifteen kilometers from Lucknow is Kukrail, developed as a picnic spot by the Forest Department. There is a deer farm and a crocodile nursery. One can see spotted deer, black buck, sambhar, and a variety of birds in their natural abode.
Similarly the Chinhat Picnic Pavilion at a distance of 15 kilometers from Lucknow is a rest house by the side of Kathauta Lake. One can also visit the neighborhood Chinhat pottery units.
With Ekana International Cricket Stadium now a reality along with the very fancy High Court Building, Lucknow looks like the not so typical relic of the past.
As 21st century Lucknow moves on the fast lane, it is the existence of a multitude of iconic landmarks like Charbagh Railway Station, Biblapur Kothi, Dilkusha Palace, Tarawali Kothi, Khursheed Manzil, Shah Nazaf, Botanical Gardens, Badshahi Bagh, Mothi Roshan-ud-Daula, Lal Baradari among others that give the city residents and those coming from outside an opportunity to travel back in time.