Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh situated along the banks of the River Gomti rose to prominence as the centre of the Nawabs of Avadh. Legend says that Lucknow derived its name from Lucknau named after Lakshmana (a character in the famous Epic Ramayan) when his elder brother Rama gave away this part of the country to him. The huge mausoleums of the nawabs and the ruins of the Residency which stood witness to one of the most remarkable episodes in the Indian Mutiny in 1857, make it an interesting place to visit. Historically reputed as a city of culture, Lucknow is famous for its gharana of music and chickken (shadow work embroidery) work.
Geography of Lucknow
Situated at the heart of Uttar Pradesh, 500 km south-east of New Delhi, Lucknow is surrounded on the eastern side by Barabanki District, on the western side by Unnao District, on the southern side by Raebareli District and on the northern side by Sitapur and Hardoi districts. The Gomti River flows through the city, dividing it in trans-gomti and cis-gomti regions. Some of the tributaries of this river are the Kukrail, Loni, and Beta. The Sai River flows from the south of the city. Lucknow is accessible from every part of India through air, rail and road. Lucknow's Amausi airport is an international airport and is the 13th online station for Air India.
History of Lucknow
Lucknow’s foundations were laid
in the 13th century. Lakshman Tila, the central part of the city, is
believed to have been the site where a fort was built by a clan from
Bijnor. By the end of the 13th century, the fort had fallen into the
hands of the Sharqi rulers of Jaunpur, who held it till 1476. In the
1540s, the fort was annexed by the Sultan of Delhi, Sher Shah Sur.
During the Mughal Emperor Akbar’s reign, the Oudh, as Lucknow was
then called, flourished under imperial patronage. In 1724, the
Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah, appointed Nawab Sadat Khan
Burhan-ul-Mulk as the Governor of Oudh. Thus began the reign of the
Nawabs over Oudh, which continued till the close of the 18th
In 1857, British troops in and around Lucknow retreated to the
Residency, with Indian sepoys and civilians laying siege to the
complex. When Sir Colin Campbell took on the Indian forces in a bid
to rescue his countrymen, the siege lasted 87 days during which
cannon and small arms fire ruined the Residency.
Tourist Attractions of Lucknow
Bara Imambara (Tomb of a Muslim holy man)
The hall built by Asaf-ud-Daula for famine relief, is one of the largest in the world. There are excellent views of Lucknow from the top of the Imambara. An external stairway leads to an upper floor laid out as an amazing labyrinth known as the bhulbulaiya. The dark passages stop abruptly at openings which drop straight to the courtyard below. There's a mosque with two tall minarets in the courtyard complex and to the right of this is a well which is said to have secret tunnels opening into.
This huge 60-feet-high door was also built by Asaf-ud-Daula. It is also called the 'Turkish Darwaza,' it is the entrance to the Bara Imambara. It is a massive gate on the the western side of the front of Bara Imambara.
Hussainabad or Chota Imambara, was built by Mohammed Ali Shah in 1837 as his own mausoleum. The appeal of this structure lies in its furnishings comprising exquisite chandeliers of Belgium glass. The glittering brass-domes and ornate architecture of this building made a Russian Prince call it the "Kremlin of India." It contains the tombs of Ali Shah and his mother. A small bazaar, known as the Gelo Khana or "Decorated Place", lies inside the imposing entrance of the Imambara.
The Clock Tower
It is located very near to the Rumi Darwaza. Built in 1881 by the British, this 67 m-high clock tower on the river Gomti is said to the tallest clock tower in India. The tower has European style artwork. The parts of the clock are built of pure gunmetal and the pendulum hangs 14 feet. The dial of this clock is shaped like a 12-petalled flower and has bells around it.
Shah Najaf Imambara
It holds the tombs of Ghasi-ud-Din Haidar and his two wife's. Situated on the south bank of Gomti towards the west of Sikandar Bagh, the building is almost an exact replica of the tomb of Hazrat Ali, the son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad, at Najaf Ashraf in Iraq. The interior is used to store chandeliers, and elaborate creations of wood, bamboo and silver paper which are carried through the streets during the Muharram Festival.
Built in 1800 by Saadat Ali Khan for the British Resident. There is a model room in the main Residency building which is worth visiting and a small museum on the ground floor. This group of buildings became the stage for the most dramatic events of the 1857 Mutiny the Siege of Lucknow. There is cemetery near by with graves of those who suffered in the mutiny.
Noor Baksh Kothi (Light giving palace) is in Lal Bagh area next to the Methodist Church and now known as Noor Manzil. It was believed to be built by Saadat Ali Khan as a school for royal children and Agha Mir, the Prime Minister was its owner. Rafi us Shan, son of Muhammad Ali Shah made this his residence till the end of Nawabi rule. Now it houses a psychiatric clinic for the mentally disturbed.
The two Chattar Manzils near the Begum Hazarat Mahal Park, on the banks of the Gomti were Royal pavilions. The name comes from the gilt chattars or umbrellas atop the two main buildings. The Greater Chattar Manzil was once a king's palace. Under the existing river terrace was the ground floor with the tykhanas (cool underground rooms), cooled by the waters of the Gomti which lapped against its outer walls. Today this building houses the Central Medicine Research body. The Lal Baradari was also the part of Chattar Manzil and was built as Coronation Hall and Durbar Hall.
The state Museum in Banarasi Bagh houses an impressive collection of stone sculptures, 1st-11th century exhibits of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain works, rare coins, marble sculptures and an Egyptian Mummy.
Dudhwa National Park
Dudhwa is 238 km N of Lucknow and was designated a National Park in 1977. Bordering the Sarda River in the Terai, it is very similar to the Corbett National Park. It has sal forest, tall savannah grasslands and large marshy areas watered by the Neora and Sohel rivers. Dudhwa National Park is home to unusual animal species. This national park's star attraction is the Royal Bengal tiger. About 100 tigers are believed to still roam this region. The Indian rhino was also introduced here to save it from extinction. Leopards, elephants, bears, gharial, crocodile, and spotted deer inhabit the thick forests too.
Gautam Buddha Park
Situated in between the Bara Imambara and the Martyrs Memorial, this park has been a recreation ground for children. Rides here are a big draw. Also used by political parties to hold rallies now.
Situated at 4 km from the Charbagh station, this Zoo is also called as the Prince of Wales Zoological Gardens. The Zoo comes under the Banarasi Bagh area. Constructed in 1921, it also has a museum, an aquarium and a toy train. The plane Rajhans used by Pandit Jawarharlal Nehru is also kept in the zoo.
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