The Hidden Lucknow

Lucknow, India

Until the 19th century, Lucknow was well-known as a centre for the arts, lavish culture and decadent cuisine. It also played host to the defining moment of the Indian Mutiny of 1857, and a walk through Lucknow reveals fascinating tales from its history.

Lucknow famous rulers, the Nawabs of Oudh, were great patrons of the arts, especially music and dance, but also left behind a myriad of impressive buildings and architecture. Rudyard Kipling writing in Kim said 'no city - except Bombay, the Queen of all - was more beautiful in her garish style than Lucknow', and in the 18th century Lucknow was one of the most architecturally beautiful of India's cities.

Begin exploring Lucknow by seeing the Bara Imanbara and Chota Imanbara before heading to the Hussainabad picture gallery where you can see a range of portraits depicting the former Nawabs. Explore the Dikusha Palace and the Rumi Dawaza which was constructed in 1786 and incorporates an eight faceted chattri.

The British Residence was constructed in 1800 and made famous by the India Mutiny when its gruesome finale was played out in the city. The resident, Henry Lawrence, and the British community was surrounded by rebellious Sepoys for 147 days until relief arrived. The Residency was left very much as it was, and you can still see where the bullets and cannons pummelled the outer walls. Walk down to the cemetery and see some of the 2000 defenders who died, including Sir Henry Lawrence 'who tried to do his duty' according to the inscription on his tomb.

It might be worth stopping off at La Martiniere College, built as the country home of the French soldier, Laude Martin, who made his fortune as a trader in Lucknow and endowed it as a school upon his death in 1800.

For those who like the more cultural aspect of Lucknow, head off on a walking tour in the late afternoon through Lucknow's ancient alleyways, nooks and crannies, past medieval temples and mosques. Explore crumbing houses with ornate windows, local markets selling freshly cut flowers, silverware, hookahs, itar (oil based perfumes) and Chikan embroidery work.

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