Sunday, 13 April 2014


Rumi Darwaza

        I have been wondering which part of my memory should I pick from, to continue the journey of alphabetical  travel tales. Should it be my all time favourite Leh, the little pearl of Paurhi Garhwal, Lansdowne or revisit Lucknow? Having already published a post on Leh that also saw the light of the printed world  in one of the dailies, I decided to give it a miss. In my last post I talked about Kasauli, a hill station in Himachal Pradesh. And so I left the hilly charm of Lansdowne for a later time. So that zeroes down to Lucknow, a city on the banks of river Gomti in Uttar Pradesh.

      Say Lucknow and the first picture that comes to mind is that of Lucknowi tehzeeb -the sophisticated etiquette of social interaction. So the moment our train stopped at Lucknow station after almost a six hour journey from Delhi, I half expected this tehzeeb to be showcased in all human interactions. Our short romance with Lucknow started with the railway station itself, a beautiful structure that oozed an old world charm and sophistication. According to Wikipedia, an aerial view of this building brings to mind a chess board with the pillars acting as the game pieces. Unfortunately we were not privy to this spectacular view. Since the camera happened to be deep inside the suitcase, I could not get a first hand picture of the station unless of course you expected me to be casting our clothes and other unspeakables  out of it in the middle of the station. So I leave you with this borrowed image from Wikipedia.
File:Lucknow station.jpg
Railway stationCourtesy Wikipedia
            Our first date in the city was with Bada Imambara, a shrine built by Shia Muslims for azadari. Azadari is a term used exclusively for  mourning for Imam Hussein who was martyred in the Battle of Karbala. Expression of grief takes place in many ways like chest beating, beating oneself with chain, swords and knives or whip lashing. They may take place in a procession or by assembling in  buildings specially built for this purpose, mosque or homes. Bada Imambara is one such building that has a huge vaulted chamber that accomodates the purpose of azadari. Our guide took great pride in pointing out that this huge arched ceiling had no beams to support it and is one of the few existing specimens of architectural marvel in the world.Surrounding it are several smaller chambers of varying ceiling heights.The different ceiling heights actually facilitate the labryinth or the bhulbhulaiya on the floor above that has around 485 identical doors. The guide took us through one of the narrow passages open for public. It is said that the Bada Imambara was constructed so as to provide employment to the people when a severe famine ravished the region in 1785. While the beleagured and weary subjects built the structure by the day, the noblemen had it demolished by night so work could continue. Flanked by a step well or baoli on one side, the Imambara has an impressive Rumi Darwaza at the entrance.

A Hazy Snap In the Labrynth
Touristy Snap With Bada Imambara At The Back


      Lucknow is synonymous with the exquisite chikankari embroidery that has provided employment to many in the region through various co-operatives. The fine white thread shadow embroidery on white soft material like chiffons and fine cotton is a classic piece that beats all modern interpretations.There are many shops in the Hazratganj area that  offer home linen, apparels, and running material of this refined hand work that seems to me to be a reflection of their tehzeeb. Could one come away from Lucknow without a go at their famous Lucknowi cuisine? So we rounded off our trip with some of the melt in the mouth galouti kebabs,  kakori kebabs  and boti kebabs from the famed Tunday Mian. 

  Lucknow has seen a rare degree of sophistication in all walks of life.The Nawabi culture had a secular approach that encouraged every art form to reach it's highest level of perfection. And this charm of the yester years has stayed on in this city by the river Gomti.

This post was written for the A to Z challenge.




  1. Have been to Lucknow many times for my official purpose....really touched with the way they talk the food too...

  2. Have been to Lucknow many times for my official purpose....really touched with the way they talk the food too...

  3. Nice post. I loved Lucknow for its wonderful Mughal structures.

  4. Hi Ilakshee -I hv Not been to lucknow before. ...but on reading ur blog I realise it's one of the close destination I need to hit the trail soon...

  5. Mahesh food is always the ice breaker for me :)

  6. Yes Niranjan, Lucknow has it's share of beautiful architecture.

  7. Hi Reena, it's a good place for a few touristy days.

  8. Your post on tehzeeb and imambara reminds me of my visits to Lucknow.I had a good time there. :)Didn't know about the ariel view part of the railway station...thank you for sharing Ilakshi.


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