Lucknow is famous for vivid reasons, foremost of them being its glorious past under the Nawab dynasty. One must give due credits to the Nawabs for the magnificent upbringing of the city that once was just a mere part of the then ‘Hindustan, and hardly had any historical or cultural significance. Though the Mughals and other rulers also had somewhat impact on its culture and architecture, but contribution of Nawab rulers overshadowed them all. While you saunter in the lanes of Lucknow of the contemporary times, you will experience the grandeur it reflects in great volumes, for sure. Be it the food, the places, markets, festivals, the chikankari or even the Ganga-jamuni tahzeeb, all reflect that invincible past in an unfeigned manner. Here is a quick round up of these eminent pillars of this historical city that altogether comprise the “Spirit of Lucknow”.
Ganga-Jamuni Tahzeeb of Lucknow
The term ‘Ganga-Jamuni Tahzeeb’ denotes the culture of the people living in the central plains of Northern India, including the regions around Yamuna river and the Ganges. However, it won’t be wrong to associate this term with Lucknow. It is this city where you will find people addressing their homes as ‘Gareebkhana’, even if they live in a palatial house. The hosts here urge the guests to taste the scrumptious dishes by saying, “Nosh Farmaiye”, and the guests say, “Aap bismillah Karein”, in response. The derogatory language of ‘tu tadak’ finds no place here, instead people prefer referring to each other with words like ‘Aap’, ‘Janaab’, etc. In place of ‘excuse me’ you will get to hear its Urdu version more often, like, “Muaf kijiyega, ek baat arz karni thi”.
Another traditional example of Ganga-Jamuni Tahzeeeb is the silver crescent moon on the top of Old Hanuman Temple in Aliganj. As per legends, it was donated by one of the queens of Awadh as a mark of gratitude for the recovery of her son’s health. The tradition of honoring each other’s culture still prevails during the Bada Mangal festival where Muslims put up stalls of free eateries, and during Muharram where Hindus arrange for sabeels (stalls) of Sharbat. Even, many Hindus participate in the city’s Tazia procession.
Moreover, during Navratra, meat shops, which are mostly owned by Muslims remain closed throughout the nine auspicious days to respect the religious values of Hindus. The same holds for the shops of egg, chicken rolls, and biryanis in certain parts of the city. The Iftar parties during Ramadan are joined by all irrespective of religions. They dine together and pray for the well being of humanity.
Food of Lucknow
Lucknow is an ultimate destination of the lip smacking cuisines that rule over the senses of connoisseurs of delicious food. Some of the most popular of Awadhi cuisine that you just cannot resist savoring on include kormas, zarda, sheermal, roomali rotis, warqi parathas, different kebabs, and so on. Among the places to eat in Lucknow, Tunday Kababi in Aminabad and other parts of Lucknow is simply matchless. The Galawati, Shami and Kakori Kebabs in combination with the yummy parathas you eat here take you to another tasteful world. Besides, Naushijaan and Dastarkhwan are also eminent places to taste a variety of Kebabs. To get the genuine Dum Biryani flavor, Idris Dhaba at the Chowk is the right place. Likewise, for Handi Chicken, shops in Badshah Nagar and Gomti Nagar are the ideal destinations.
To enjoy Lucknawi Chat, you may visit Royal Café in Hazratganj, Swaad & Radhey Laal in Aliganj, Panchmukhi at Kursi Road, Gomti Nagar’s Neelkanth, and finally Pandit Chaat at Aminadbad. The Chowk area is also famous for Sai Lassi Corner, thanks to its creamy Lassi and spicy Chole Bhature. If you want Tea, Gulab chai at Nakhas is unparalleled. It offers imarti along with the tea, where the latter is flavoured with kewra, saffron and elaichi. For sweets, you may visit Chappan Bhog, Ritz, Classic, etc, and for cookies or bakeries, Good Bakery, Burma Bakery, Brown Bakery, and JJ Bakery are among the widely preferred ones. Prakash Kulfi is a loved destination for Faluda Kulfi in Aminabad. In addition, hotel Madhur Milan is yet another popular eating hub in the heart of this market. Last but not the least, Lucknawi pan is more than just supari, gulkand and patta put together, which you just cannot miss tasting in varied locations all over the city.
Places in Lucknow
There is no dearth of places to visit in Lucknow, thanks to numerous tourist destinations built during the traditional and modern day Lucknow. If you are fond of visiting old monuments to experience the lavishnesss and opulence of those golden times of the Nawabs and Kings, you should visit Asafi (Bada) Imambara and Hussainabad (Chota) Imambara. In between these two Shia Shrines are Rumi Daarwaza, Picture Gallery, and Clock Tower. While being in Bada Imambara, don’t forget visiting Shahi Baoli, and the mysterious lanes of Bhul Bhulaiyya. Other historical structures that are worth a dekko include British Residency, Shahid Smarak, Chatter Manzil, Jama Masjid, Kaiserbagh Palace Dilkusha Kothi, La Martiniere College, and Shah Najaf Imambara.
Lucknow is also host to a flurry of destinations that found their realms after the 19th century, post the golden era of Nawab dynasty. Some of these are the latest to entice the attention of tourists like Ambedkar Memorial Park, Kanshiram Smriti Upvan, Ram Manohar Lohia Park, Janeshwar Mishra Park, and more. Apart from these, Lucknow is also home to Indira Gandhi Planetarium, Regional science center, Lucknow Zoo and Museum, Globe Park, Suraj Kund Park, Nimbu Park, Hathi Park, Smriti Van Vatika, and so on.
Markets of Lucknow
The markets in Lucknow are interesting and scattered all over the city. There is something for every individual in these shopping destinations, from low-budget products to their expensive counterparts. Though the city is now also home to a number of shopping malls catering to the needs of lower, middle and upper class, the native Lucknowites still prefer spending time and money in traditional markets. Places like Aminabad, Hazratganj, Bhootnath, Chowk, Nishatganj, Naka, Latouchee Road and Alambagh, remain crowded throughout the year. Especially, their spirit is worth experiencing during the festival times like Diwali, Eid, etc. With the extending Lucknow, new shopping corners are also surfacing in the form of malls like Saharaganj Mall, Fun Republic, Wave, Phoenix Mall, East End Mall, Riverside Mall, Inox, etc. Additionally, several small to mid range budget malls, which are ripe for the emerging middle class of Lucknow comprise 1 India Family Mart, Vishal Mega Mart, V Mart, Citylife, and more.
Chikankari – Embroidery art of Lucknow
The trademark Lucknawi Chikan clothing that you will find here is ultimate and hard to find in any other part of the world. Even if you buy it elsewhere, chances are brighter that is exported from an Old Chowk or Aminabad shop of Lucknow. Chikankari, refers to the exquisite shadow-work embroidery, which is done on fine muslin cloth. In the age of readymade clothing, hand-made embroidery is no less than a luxury. The good thing is that this special garment is available in profusion in the chosen markets of Luckow for both men as well as women.
Notably, Chowk and Aminabad are the preferred places to buy fascinating chikan garments, well decorated with painstakingly done embroidery. You can also purchase them from few selected shops in Nishatganj, Hazratganj, Kapporthala. Malls like Inox and Fun Republic also include an exquisite range of Chikan clothing. Usually, the cost of these cotton dresses lie somewhere between Rs 250-5000 depending on the type of embroidery done on the cloth. The traditional handwork, ‘Murri’ is a little bit more expensive. However, be alert of touts as they can take you to the shops near Hussain Ganj amd Civil Hospital that sell chikan dresses that are around 500% more expensive than normal rates.
Festivals of Lucknow
Thanks to the traditional Ganga-Jamuni Tahzeeeb of Lucknow, all the festivals are celebrated with equal pomp and show in the city. Be it Eid Ul Fitr, Diwali, Eid E Miladun Nabi, Dusshehra, Holi, Navratri, Christmas, Eid-Ul-Duha, Guru Nanak Jayanti, Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti , Makar Sankranti, Bada Mangal, or almost any occasion, the citizens here are always charged up. The incidents of non-Muslims taking part in Muharram Processions, or enjoying the traditional Iftar dishes along with their Muslim brothers is common. Likewise, the scenes of Muslims arranging for Mangal stalls on every Tuesday and participating in the Navratri vraths and celebrations are quite common.
Besides, the Independence Day, Republic Day and New Year celebrations in Lucknow are beyond comparison. Lucknow festival or Mahotsav is an annual festival that depicts the city’s life in vivid colors. It also invites celebrities to perform and entertain Lucknow in entirety. Lucknow Literary festival is another important festival, which portrays the rich literary culture of Awadh. It invites notable poets and writers to grace the occasion. For sure, the rich culture heritage remains preserved through these happening festivals. Hopefully, if the next generation carries forward the age old traditions, Lucknow will continue to fascinate the rest of the world in the better future as well.