City of etiquette or elegance : Lucknow

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Lucknow Charbagh Railway Station welcomes you with these beautiful lines in Urdu: “Muskuraiye Ki Aap Lucknow me Hain, Abad Ke Issh Seher Mai Kuch Din Nawab Ban Ke Toh Dekhiye!” And this etiquette or elegance is seen and felt across the city. After spending a fantastic afternoon in Lucknow, I was ready to explore the city again today. So I had a quick bath & got dressed. 

City of etiquette or elegance : Lucknow
Char Bagh Railway Station

This morning, I went to Hazaratganj, the heart of Lucknow, established in 1810 by Nawab Saadat Ali Khan. The place is named after Hazrat Ali, who was the fourth caliph. Though it almost looked like Connaught Place or can say has a high resemblance. It is divided into numerous tiny lanes which tell stories of yesteryears.

City of etiquette or elegance : Lucknow

However, my ulterior motive was to visit the Shukla tea stall-a- a modest tea stall in Hazratganj that sells Irani Chai, bun Makhan, Samosa, Pakoda and Poha. Looking at the crowd, I realized Chai is an emotion; whether you are happy or sad, in love or distress, Chai is the magic potion you need. Well, I ordered a Kulhad Chai & Samosa with some Jalebi. 

Shukla Tea Shop

The Chai here is made using decoction- poured into glasses and topped with milk. The tea had cardamom, which I was not fond of, but the taste was flavourful & smell of cardamom was manageable. The Samosa was round and famously known as Gol Samosa, but the jalebi was soggy. Overall, it’s the perfect kick you need to start your day.

City of etiquette or elegance : Lucknow
Chai and Samosa

Next, I visited Dilkhusha Kothi Palace, a 13-minute auto ride from Hazratganj. The auto driver was amazed to hear that some tourists want to see Dilkhusha Kothi as it is less frequented. I drove through the cantonment area since the monuments lie on the city’s farther end. 

City of etiquette or elegance : Lucknow
Dilkhusha Kothi

Upon reaching, I was astounded by the regal and royal aura of the monument—a beautiful English baroque-style architecture constructed in the eighteenth century. The remnants of the ruins are a clear testimony to its erstwhile artistic beauty and excellent architecture. Often known as the Vilayati Kothi or the English house, it was constructed during the rule of Nawab Saadat Ali Khan.

City of etiquette or elegance : Lucknow
Regal& Royal Kothi

 I walked into the place which once used to be the happy heart or Dil Kusha for the Nawab since this Kothi was built explicitly for the Nawab. Interestingly, the building lacks a courtyard, which was uncommon during those times. The buildings were constructed with lime mortar and Lakhauri bricks. However, the roofs of most buildings were demolished during the conflict in 1857, thanks to ASI, who repaired the place again.

City of etiquette or elegance : Lucknow
Ruins of Kothi

Major Gore Ouseley, a British resident of the Nawab, as a summer resort and hunting lodge in the 18th century, constructed Dilkhusha Kothi. The Begums also utilized this place to unwind, rest, and take picnics because of its proximity to the river. During the reign of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, the structure underwent additional modifications. He constructed another Kothi next to Dilkhusha to run military drills for his soldiers. The ruins have a guard room in a series of small chambers.

City of etiquette or elegance : Lucknow
Hunting Lodge

The location is enveloped with history, nature, and peace and is ideal for reflective conversations. Though close to the busy Charbagh railway station, the place is serene. I spent some time before heading to my following location, Chota Imambara. 

City of etiquette or elegance : Lucknow
Architectural Bliss

The Imambara of Hussainabad, also known as the Chhota Imambara, is a stunning monument to witness. Located towards the waster end of the Bara Imambara and was built in 1838 by Muhammad Ali Shah, the third Nawab of Awadh. The Chhota Imambara became a holy shrine for the Shia Muslims. It was a source of income for thousands of labourers during a famine. Moreover, the Nawab and his mother’s mausoleum are housed inside the ancient monument.

City of etiquette or elegance : Lucknow
Chota Immabara

Since it was Friday, I covered my head with my muffler & walked inside the Imambara. I was amazed to see that the white outer wall of Imambara has intricate work in blue and is decorated with expensive lamps and chandeliers imported from different parts of the world. This decoration is also called the Palace of Lights. The Chhota Imambara Complex encompasses nicely decorated courtyards, minarets, and turrets. I started with the Shahi Hamam or royal bath, a simplified version of Turkish Baths. And the yard is decorated with many flower plants, fountains, and a pastel-pink gateway.

Based upon the Charbagh pattern, the Imambara is ornated with its gilded white dome and several turrets. A Persian style of architecture is reflected through the extensive use of glasswork. Moreover, Arabic calligraphy is inscribed on the walls, and imported Chandeliers from Belgium, gilt-edged mirrors, and colourful stuccos adorn beautifully decorated interiors.

City of etiquette or elegance : Lucknow
Beautiful architecture

It is quite an experience walking and exploring the premises of Chota Imambara. Think of it as a small-scale copy of the Taj Mahal. After exploring the Chota Imambara, I crossed the Husainabad gate and saw a 67 m tall structure constructed by Nawab Nasir-ud-din Haider in 1881. The Ghanta Ghar displays the finest artwork built to enshrine Sir George Couper’s arrival—the first Lieutenant-Governor of the United Provinces of Avadh.

Other miniatures

Lucknow and the Hussainabad area had a lot of additions & alterations were no exception. I said this because Nawab Asaf-ud-Daulah Daulat Khana (Treasure House) used to be close to the Baradari complex. But the British destroyed the Daulat Khana to prove their superiority and built a 67-metre (220 ft) tall Clock Tower.

City of etiquette or elegance : Lucknow
The clock Tower

Further ahead, I saw a red-brick building named Satkhanda, a 7-storeyed building. However, only up to 4 storeys were constructed before it was abandoned. Mohammed Ali Shah started its construction influenced mainly by ‘The Leaning Tower of Pisa’. Satkhanda was built to be the watch tower with a bird’s eye view of Lucknow city. The tower is a blend of Greek and Islamic architecture with an octagonal shape with successive storeys in decreasing order of height & breadth. The building has numerous huge windows and compartments.

City of etiquette or elegance : Lucknow

Around about the corner was the picture gallery housed in a small part of the Baradari- a vast room displaying various portraits of the Nawabs of Lucknow. A 9-10 life-size portrait that has 3D effects causing optical illusion. Mostly Painted between 1881-1885 by visiting European artists.

Picture Gallery

Talking Baradari, the double-storeyed brick building was built in 1838 by Nawab Mohammed Ali Shah. Baradari has two hammams (baths) at the corners with a huge water tank. Adjacent to Baradari are A small mosque and a Mina bazaar. It served the purpose of Royal Summer House.

City of etiquette or elegance : Lucknow

My next place to visit was Jama Majid; these monuments were nearby. Built in 1845, this is one of the most beautiful mosques decorated in yellow sandstone with sparkling white sandstone calligraphy on its walls, charming minarets, and picture-perfect domes.

City of etiquette or elegance : Lucknow
Jama Masjid

Interestingly, the funding for building this mosque was suddenly cut due to the sudden demise of Nawab Mohammad Ali Shah. Yet, the architects managed to give this mosque an astonishing look!

Entrance to Mosque

This 15th-century architectural wonder has over 260 pillars and 15 arched domes with mesmerizing intricate stonework.

Interior of the Masjid

Rumi Darwaza was my last historical visit for the day. I decided to visit Bara Imambara tomorrow morning. As I walked along the traffic, I stood in front of the 60 ft tall, massive gateway, a beautiful Awadhi architectural-style construction. It was built under the patronage of Nawab Asaf-Ud-Daulah in 1784, a magnificent gateway named Rumi Darwaaza. I was amazed looking at the structure that marked the entrance to the city of Lucknow.

Rumi Darwaza

The word “Rumi” is believed to be derived from “Rome”, as Istanbul or ancient Constantinople was the capital city of the Eastern Roman Empire (aka Byzantine Empire). However, some historians say it is named after a 13th-century Muslim Sufi mystic, Jalal ud-Din Md. Rumi. Moreover, it is also known as ‘Turkish Gateway’ since the Sublime Porte highly inspires it in Istanbul, Turkey. 

Architectural Bliss

Rumi Darwaza was under renovation when I visited it, where I saw the uppermost part comprises an octagonal Chatri or Umbrella that a staircase can access. There were provisions to keep a significant lantern On top of the Rumi Darwaza to light up the structure at night. Moreover, on the sides of the arch, from beautifully carved flower buds, there was provision for the water to come out.

Night View of Darwaza

Once the gateway of Nawabs, it now lies at the border of old Lucknow & new Lucknow, and a bustling street runs through it. A sarcasm of Life! I admired the beauty and took pictures before moving to my next destination. The Last destination of the evening was the ‘Chowk’- an epicentre of all the activities. I wandered through the narrow lanes of Chowk, looking at the heavily encroached Nawabi Era structure slowly decaying away. It was a different world where time was held in a cultural beauty. I walked around enjoying mouth-watering delicacies & shopping before my feet gave up for the night.

How to Reach

By Air

The city has the nearest Lucknow Airport, 14km from the city centre. One can hire a cab to reach the desired destination. 

By Rail 

The city railhead is well connected with all major cities of India. The Lucknow railway station at Charbagh is the central railway station. One can hire a cab, auto or bus to reach the desired destination. 

By Road

The city of Lucknow is well connected with major highways like NH25, NH28 and NH56. State and private buses are available from Varanasi, Allahabad, Kanpur, Agra, Jhansi, Delhi and other nearby cities. These buses ply at regular intervals. One can also book a cab or self-drive to Lucknow.


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