Through The Looking Glass Lucknow is the Capital of Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state of India. It is located in the South-East of Delhi, the capital of India. It is connected by air and rail. However no international flights touch down here. One has to travel by internal flights from Delhi, Calcutta or Bombay. It is connected by Express trains from these cities.
Located in the Indo-Gangetic plains, Lucknow is famous for its delicious mangoes, 'Chikan' Garments, classical Kathak dance, music and delicious food.
Lucknow City has a rich legacy and is a premier centre of art and culture. In the words of Mr. William H. Russel who visited Lucknow in 1857. Lucknow is where the legacy of the imperial splendour of the later Mughals flourished in music and dance. Spread out evenly on both sides of the river Gomti, it has plenty of places of historical interest. Avadh and Adab, meaning etiquette, are synonymous.
Places of Interest in and around Lucknow
Charbagh Railway Station
Built in the typical Rajasthani style this beautiful building stands in place of the gardens of the Nawabs from where it derives it's name. Charbagh literally means four gardens.
Rumi Darwaza : Also known as the Turkish Gateway, the Rumi Darwaza leads into the outer ward of the Bara Imambara. Widely believed to be a facsimile of one of the gates of Constantinople it expresses the heart and soul of Avadh architecture.
Bara Imambara : Built in the year 1784 by the champion of charity Nawab Asaf-ud- daulah it provided food to the famine stricken subjects of the Nawab. It is said that even the once rich worked as laborers in the construction of this impressive monument. They worked at night to avoid the embarrassment of being noticed. The monument is known for its simplicity of style, sheer proportion and symmetry. The interior vaulted hall (162 ft x 53 ft x 50 ft) does not have even a single beam to support it. Unique acoustics have been used. Outside a staircase leads into the bhulbhulaiyan which is a complicated entanglement of zigzag paths. Visitors should not enter this area without a guide. To the left of the Imambara is a grand mosque. To the right is a row of cloisters concealing a huge well known as the Baoli.
Chhota Imambara : Known also as the Hussainabad Imambara, it was built by Mohammad Ali Shah as a mausoleum for himself. It is set inside a beautiful garden with a raised water reservoir in front of it. It is flanked by two replicas of the Taj Mahal inside which are the remains of Ali Shah's daughter and her husband. The main building is a domed structure with many exquisite turrets and minarets. The arcade on the exterior is adorned with verses from the Holy Quran. The calligraphic writing is in white against a black background. The interior is lavishly decorated with huge chandeliers, gilded mirrors, colorful stucco and Tazia in sandalwood wax and zari.
Jama Masjid : The construction of this mosque was started in 1840 by Mohammad Ali Shah but it was finally completed by his wife Begum Malika Jahan after his death. This splendid mosque built in the typical Mughal style lies to the west of the Hussainabad Imambara.
Clock Tower : Rising 221 ft. above the ground, this is the tallest Clock Tower in India. It was erected by Nawab Nasir-ud-din Haider in the year 1887 at a cost of Rs. 1.20 lakhs.
Facing the Hussainabad tank is a Baradari built by Nawab Mohammad Ali Shah. It has been now converted into a picture gallery containing the portraits of the Nawabs of Avadh.
Laxman Tila: Popularly believed to have been one of the earliest habitations of the city the Laxman Tila is situated to the north of the Imambara complex. It contains the famous Alamgiri Mosque which was built by Sultan Ali who was Governor of the province of Avadh during the reign of Aurangzeb. The mosque is known for its outstanding symmetry of form and sobriety of decoration.
Shahnajaf Imambara: Also known as the Najaf-e-Ashraf the Imambara gets its name from the city of Shahnajaf in the area that is modern Iraq which contains the tomb of Hazrat Ali. Buried here are the remains of Nawab Ghazi-ud-din Haider and his wives including Begum Mubarak Mahal who was a European lady. It was a stronghold of the Indian mutineers in the Mutiny of 1857.
Sikander Bagh: This was the summer house of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah. Situated in the Sikander Bagh Gardens it gets its name from Begum Sikander Mahal who was the favorite wife of the Nawab. The garden now houses the National Botanical Research Institute of India.
Chhattar Manzil: The construction of this building was started by Nawab Ghazi-ud-din Haider though it was completed after his death by his successor Nawab Nasir-ud-din Haider. The building has an imposing facade, huge underground rooms and a beautiful dome surrounded by a gilt umbrella. The European influence can clearly be seen in the architecture of this beautiful building.
Residency: Built by the Nawabs of Oudh for the British resident between the years 1780 and 1800, it became the last outpost of the English Resistance. It faced heavy bombardment and cannon firings during the mutiny of 1857. Now in a dilapidated state, the main building faces the river Gomti and has wide verandahs, a guard tower and several underground rooms. Surrounding it is an arrangement of terraced lawns which are beautifully flood-lit at night. It seems that these ruins have preserved the English Ego wounded mortally in 1857 offensive. English narratives of the period give great sentimental value to this monument.
Shaheed Smarak: A Martyr's Memorial was raised opposite the Residency to mark the first centenary of the Mutiny of 1857. The tower is a mark of respect for the thousands of unknown warriors who laid down their lives for the freedom and glory of their nation.
La Martiniere: Claude Martin, the French Soldier of Fortune, was imprisoned by the English at Pondicherry. Thereafter he was commissioned by the East India Company to raise a joint European Regiment to fight their common enemies at Mysore. He was then promoted to the post of Major. His task was to befriend the nawabs of Oudh. Martin finally received the position and importance he had always looked forward to. Adopting the salient features of Italian Architecture and blending them with the indigenous and Muslim styles, Martin himself designed this building. This was perhaps the first building of the European Order to be built in Northern India. He breathed his last as Major General Claude Martin in Lucknow.
The Prince of Wales Zoological Gardens: The Banarsi Bagh houses the Prince of Wales (afterwards Edward VIII) Zoological Gardens. It was founded in the year 1921. The building known as Aish Mahal within its premises was constructed by Nawab Nasir-ud-din Haider for one of his mistresses. It was meant for summer use. Today it contains quite a few species of rare animals and birds.
State Museum: The building is situated inside the Zoo. It is not only the oldest museum of the state but also one of the richest in the country. It displays a fascinating collection of coins right from the terra- cotta coins of the Indus Valley to the coins of the present day. Among other things the museum boasts of an Egyptian Mummy, the pistol of Chanderashekhar Azad a freedom fighter and many other works of art which are of historical importance.
Kukrail: It has been developed by the Forest Department. It includes a deer farm and the famous crocodile nursery. In addition to this it has a huge part offering recreational facilities to children, a cafeteria and a rest house. Spotted deer, black bucks, sambhars and a variety of birds can be found here.
Moti Mahal: There are three beautiful buildings on the fringes of the Gomti. One of them is the Moti Mahal or the Palace of Pearls constructed by Nawab Saadat Ali Khan. The other two buildings were built by Nawab Ghazi-ud-din Haider. They are respectively known as the Mubarak Manzil and the Shah Manzil. The Nawabs used these buildings to view the birds in flight.
Look out for this site also on Lucknow