Of its looks, Kipling wrote in Kim: “No city – except Bombay, the Queen of all – was more beautiful in her garish style than Lucknow.” And of its historical importance, India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, described Lucknow as “the seat and centre of both ancient and medieval civilisations, the melting pot of so many races and cultures.”
Lucknow, once one of the foremost cities in India, was renowned for its grand Nawabs who loved the arts and architecture and developed a refined court cuisine. For the British, it is more commonly associated with the starting point of the Indian Uprising in 1857. Today it is the capital of the state of Uttar Pradesh, one of the most populous in India. Although the era of the Nawabs is long past, many of their fine monuments remain, including Chota Imambara and Bara Imambara, whose unusual and extravagant design and decor should not be missed (the best view can be achieved from the opposite building, known as ‘the maze’).
The crumbling British Residency, scene of the uprising where 2,000 British residents and Indians loyal to the Raj died, appears largely untouched since the fateful event with charred ruined walls. The 18th century palace of La Martiniére (now a school) also carries an authentic atmosphere of the departed Raj. The building was originally constructed as the home of a French soldier, Claude Martin, who was a major general in the East India Company army and then in the forces of the Nawab of Oudh. The architecture constructed in Lucknow during this period was abundant and it displayed a fascinating and unexpected mix of European and Indian indigenous styles.
Lucknow is also famous for its fantastic food and buzzing bazaars, which provide a snapshot of day-to-day life for the city's residents. Considered one of the gastronomical capitals of India, Lucknow’s Nawabi heritage shines through in its exceptional Awadhi cuisine, which uses complex scientific techniques to achieve a rich depth of flavour. Raisins, saffron, cashews and cream are everyday ingredients of Lucknow’s luxurious cuisine. Lucknow’s myriad of kebabs and biriyanis are legendary and the locals are known for their culinary knowledge and passion.
>> Read our blog: Lucknow; The City of Illusions & Princes
Features in the following itineraries
I dislike feeling at home when I am abroad.
George Bernard Shaw
- Anonymous, India
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
- Matthew Annable, Rajasthan, India
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
- Mr David Wallace, North India
- Leslie Siben, India
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
- Jaime Benitez, South India