What do you expect from your visit to the second happiest city in the country? Of course, a ‘Muskuraiyye, aap Lucknow mein hain” welcome is just the greeting you need when you step into this lively north Indian city. A whole lot of cheer and vibrancy inhabits the Nawabi city of Lucknow that is sure to get unto you the moment you step in on there. So go happy-go-lucky while in this very tehzeeb wali city and do yourself a favour by immersing in the plentiful of things to do there as a proper and spirited tourist. After all happiness lies in exploring and doing, not in sitting and ruing. Here’s your guide of what and how to do things while you are in Lucknow-
Get bowled over by the grandeur of the Bara and Chota Imambara
Like the child who has been forever fascinated by the exquisite mention of the majesty that Lucknow’s famed Imambaras are resplendent in, every tourist to this north Indian city is held spellbound by the magnificence of these famed structures. A conglomeration of Mughal and Awadh architecture, both the Bara and Chota Imambaras are really marvelous structures that remain as iconic in their history as they are in their very sight.
While the Bara Imambara lays claim to possibly the only existing maze in India with a labyrinth aptly named the Bhulbhulaiyya, the Chota Imambara stays true to all its intricate glory with detailed Islamic calligraphy and a beauty unparalleled that have earned it the status of being the Palace of Lights. Among the things to do in Lucknow visiting these two majestic specimens from history definitely counts as the foremost of your touristry pursuits.
Hop through to haze about in Hazratganj
Hazratganj is to Lucknowis what CP is to Delhites. Needless to say this is one of those spots you dare not miss on your next Lucknow visit. Hazratganj is in fact the heart of Lucknow and is an amalgamation of shopping complexes and eateries, theaters and offices. There resides also some figments of history, seamlessly integrated with modern additions while preserving the legacy. You get to be in and around Hazratganj at least once to get a feel of what it is like living the true Lucknowi life.
It also helps that Hazratganj was modeled after London’s famed Queen Street which lends this place somewhat of an essence of the erstwhile London vibes. Hazratganj is the place to be to chill and relax, dine and date, loiter and let the laidback charm of life get unto you amidst all the buzzing vibrancy.
A ten day carnival celebrating the amazing culture and tehzeeb of Lucknow is the Lucknow Mahotsav, an annually rendezvous sometime every winter. There’s a lot you can seek out in this gala of more than a week long of fun and frolic, dotted by exhibits of art and culture, food and fantasy, dance and music that really does much to up the tempo. What makes a grand experience of the Mahotsav one of the things not to be missed out on while in Lucknow is the entire buzz and frenzy that characterises the event. From reveling in traditional activities to going gaga over lip smacking fare and soul satisfying experiences, things to do in Lucknow should definitely wrap up the Mahotsav in its midst.
Allow the charm of the Lucknowi Chowk to totally get to you
A popular market in central Lucknow, Chowk is where you need to be to go about your shopping endeavours in town. As one of the oldest markets in entire north India, Chowk has a really diverse and rich legacy. Chowk has so many varied elements in its midst that you can’t ever get tired of this place. There’s of course garment shops and handicraft stalls, there’s alleys and streets and there’s also food and frenzy. Whiling away an entire day there, just loitering about doing nothing, will count as one of those blissful days hen life’s woes fail to get to you. The chowk will amaze you with just how much it has to offer- from things to emotions, from possessions to tastes and so much more to take away from it.
Marvel at every morsel of the moist Makkhan Malai
Lucknow is famous for many of its foods, both street fare and local stuff but one very indispensible treat that the city offers has to be its divine desserts. Authentic Lucknowi sweets are something that are intensely satisfying, both to the taste and for the soul. A blend of influence exerted by different cuisine couple up with their own ingenious innovations and Lucknowi desserts are a refreshing blend of the subtle and the flavourful.
One such sweet treat that you should not forego the fortune of trying out while in Lucknow is a very winter exclusive specialty– the Makkhan Malai or the Nimish. With its melt in the mouth texture, foamy and frothy and as much a delight to behold for the eyes, a serving of the makkhan malai will give you enough reason to come back again and again to Lucknow every winter. And indeed this divine dessert deserves all of your visits and all of your attention every time you are in Lucknow. You might or might not do other things when you are in the City of the Nawabs but indulging in this very Nawabi sweet treat remains a must do in this land that can very much be the haven of your foodie dreams.
Stroll along the biggest park in Asia
Lucknow is home also to the largest garden in the whole of Asia, known as the Janeshwar Mishra Park that has been modelled around the famous Hyde Park of London. It’s perhaps a fantasy that Lucknow harbours for the place of its erstwhile rulers or the more than 200 years of colonial influence that make elements from the foreign city such a rampant presence in even its modern day architecture.
A migratory haven for birds and a place seething with abundant flora, an early morning stroll along the neat confines of the urban park is the best way to get some early morning calmness before the pace of life grips Lucknow in all its frenzy. It’s at least the sheer magnanimity of being the biggest park in Asia, if not the serene lure of the greenery, that makes a visit to this verdant haven a uniquely rewarding experience while in town.
Discover some fun even in Sufi mysticism at Dewa Mela
Some distance away from Lucknow stands a place called Dewa that plays host to the Dewa Mela every year. So since you are in Lucknow, you should definitely make it a point to do things at this event that remains steeped in the Sufi mysticism. As a 10 day fair that commmorates the death anniversary of the revered Sufi saint Haji Walis Ali Shah, the Dewal Mela however does not rest only in the Sufi vibes. A whole lot of charm and color characterise the proceedings of this event that is very visibly a fun fair in all its essence.
Be it cultural and religious observances or food and feasting zest as well as the din and the decor, experiencing the Dewa Mela is really hoarding a whole lot of memories that remain so fed on fun and festivities.
Visit the Ambedkar Park as a modern day homage to great Indians
For a public monument that is very much a modern piece of architecture, Lucknow’s Ambedkar Park houses some really spectacular statues outside of its seeping essence of being a park. Built entirely of red sandstones that had come all the way from Rajasthan, the park is most fascination in the 62 elephant statues that stand majestically at the entrance. And there’s still more. A memorial park dedicated to Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar, the place also houses colossal statues of other Indian social reformers and leaders, not marveling at which really isn’t possible under their mighty stature- both in statue and in person.
Turn up at the Jama Masjid for the sake of your soul
Lucknow’s Jama Masjid is a phrase synonymous to the many attractions this touristry place encompasses. One of the most prominent structures in the city, both for its heritage and for its spirituality, there’s no way this mosque made of yellow sandstone can manage to pass off without a visit on your Lucknow itinerary. One of the most beautiful mosques in India, the Jama Majid stuns with its intricate design and the amalgamation of Hindu and Muslim architecture characterised by elaborate carvings and sprawl across some few thousand square meters. Whether you are a seeker of history or one of solace, whether you are fascinated by architecture or by allegiance to the spiritual, you need to be in Jama Masjid every time you choose to come over to Lucknow.
Let your tastebuds feast on array of mouthwatering foods
Forget all tehzeeb Lucknow expects out of you as you go around the city gorging over its really, really gorgeous dishes. From its mindfully endless kababs to its famed hatke chaats- or rather chaat baskets- and its grandiose of boggling biryanis and of course numerous sweetmeats, there isn’t any flavour missing out from the Luknowi platter of authentic servings. And no you needn’t just try any random corner in the city; the specialty of Lucknow is that the places that serve the best of these iconic foods are no less iconic than the dishes themselves!
So you have Sharma Ji ki Chai and Prakash ki Kulfi, Chappan Bhog ki Mithaiyyan and Rati Lal ki Khasta Kachoriyan, Tokri Chaat and Lucknowi Paan, Malai ki Gilori and Thandai, Idris ki Biryani and Lucknowi Sheermal- the list is inexhaustive! Lucknowi food is so steeped in flavours and so diversive in taste that ticking this one of the to do list should be a delightfully extensive affair.
Explore a lesser explored Teele Wali Masjid
Among the many historical monuments and majestic architectural specimens that dot the Nawabi city of Lucknow is a relatively unheard of gem- Teele wali Masjid. A pristine white mosque that stands on a mound or teela that lends it its name, the masjid is a breathtaking specimen of Mughal architecture, one that also sports a large balcony of the Bengal variety above its central arch.
Glorious in its flawless and eye catching visuals, the mosque stands as a majestic monument with its triple domes and tall towers and surrounded by other architectural masterpieces like the Bara Imambara and the Rumi Darwaza. If you are someone who likes to seek delight in the offbeat, a visit to the Teele Wali Masjid should definitely count in you list of things to do in Lucknow. But even otherwise, with its really striking look the Teeli Wali Masjid is definitely a unique attraction that you need to seek out while in Lucknow.
Scout out the art of chikankari
Lucknow is at least as famous for its traditional art of chikankari as it is for so many other things. While in Lucknow therefore one of the things to must do should be scouting out this beautiful representation of embroidery, delicate and artful in all its demure grace. One of the best textile decoration styles that Lucknow is known for, there’s a certain charm to this intricately hand crafted embroidery form. Exclusively known as Lucknowi Chikan, it is a 400 year old art form that you should definitely seek out in its most authentic avatar the next time you step in this land that has chikankari thriving and flourishing.