Lucknow: Your perfect weekend getaway
March 11, 2019
by Aakanksha Mehrotra
It was on a lazy weekday evening on the steps of our college canteen, when a friend asked me, “Why is Lucknow still called the city of Nawabs? They are long gone!”.
“The land oozes of Royalty”, I replied.
“That is for non-locals like me to decide, you are biased because it’s your home town” came the prompt reply from him.
“You have to see it in order to believe it” is what I told him and to anyone who asks me “Why Lucknow should be on our travel map?”. Lucknow is not just about kebabs and shababs, it’s much more beyond it. The capital city of the most populated state in India gives you a perfect balance of lip-smacking food and rich cultural heritage and serves as a perfect weekend getaway to unwind yourself.
How to reach
Lucknow is well connected by roads, railways, and airways to all major cities from India like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore etc. Direct trains, flights, and buses are readily available. People visiting India and interested in covering the “Golden Triangle” (Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur) can also take a little detour and pay a visit.
Where to stay
Lucknow has retained its Nazakat and Nafasat in the process of matching its footsteps with development. All major global hotel chains are available in Lucknow like Fairfield by Marriot, Renaissance, Novotel, Hyatt, Taj Group to name a few.
People looking for a more Lucknawi inspired stay can opt for Carlton, Lebua etc. A large number of budget accomodation are available as well.
Distance in Lucknow is not much of a hassle as cabs, buses and auto rickshaws are easily available and as all the major food hubs and tourist attractions are spread all across the city so staying at any particular location will probably not solve the purpose of saving commute but if it comes to a choice, Hazratganj and surrounding areas will serve as a good base.
What to eat
Ours is probably one city, where everyone will recommend what to eat before what to see! Landmarks can wait, food cannot. Even if you try to be the bigger person and try visiting the iconic Imambara, the aroma of Malai Makhan will be a big hurdle to cross.
Lucknow has a status of being a Non-vegetarian paradise, but I believe it’s unfair to disappoint the vegetarian travelers even before they set their foot in, thinking of the sad days they will have to face with nothing special to eat. To all the vegetarians out there, I give you the priority pass here.
From the month of November onwards, you will almost every corner of the city selling foamy stuff in a Dona (disposable bowl made of leaves). Yes, it is foam and sweet and takes hours to make but seconds to gulp down. Imagine, holding the eatable foam in a spoon, putting it in your mouth, a sweet taste fills your mouth and Voila, it’s gone! Your teeth are spared from any work and your soul gets fulfilled.
Most of us know about kulfi and have eaten it also, but God will punish you if you even remotely associate your previous experiences with the Kulfi falooda in Lucknow. A plate of traditional Indian ice cream covered with faluda (a special variety of flavored vermicelli) gives you a divine experience equivalent to meditation.
A dish in which the serving bowl is edible too! Yes, you read it right. It is filling to the core and perfectly instagrammable.
Malai ki Gilori
A sweet dish very unique to Lucknow with the basic ingredient being Malai (Milk cream). I won’t spill the beans further!
This is my personal favorite. Chickpeas boiled, and simmered in Butter, roasted in high flame until it turns into a shade of dark brown and crispy. Served with frayed garlic and lots and lots of lemon juice.
I simply cannot deny the fact that the list of non-vegetarian items is more exhaustive but there are certain dishes that you simply cannot afford to miss.
If there had been food logos for city identification, this dish will win hands down. The iconic Tunde Kebab has no competition when it comes to taste. A preparation of secret spices dating back to the Nawabi days, it is the savory version of malai makkhan. It melts into your mouth that you will be amazed to see how effortless meat can be.
Nawabi food is exotic and our flatbread is no exception. It combines something as simple as flour with something as flavourful as saffron.
This one-pot meal is the king of all meals in India. Every region has its own lovely taste but Lucknowi biryani is more about infusing the aroma in your nostrils to such extent that you get food orgasms.
What to shop in Lucknow
Nothing more, Nothing else. Bring your empty suitcases and fill them to the brim with clothes boasting of such intricate embroidery that will make you feel like a present-day Nawab.
Chikankari embroidery is now done in all varieties of fabrics so no matter which part of the world you reside in, there is something for everyone. Keeping in mind the recent change in how the world dresses, from sarees to tops to skirts, it has found its place everywhere.
What to see & do in Lucknow ( They are INSTAGRAM worthy too!!)
Lucknow is filled with a lot of attractions but a visit to Lucknow cannot complete without visiting these sites.
Do places that come with hashtag #largest # biggest excites you? if yes, then be prepared to overflow your Instagram with pictures of the largest vaulted chamber in the world and Lucknow’s most preferred travel destination. The most interesting piece is a visit to BHOOL BHULAIYA, a concrete maze so difficult that the travel guides here challenge you openly if you get lost inside and can’t find your way out, they charge you triple the amount to bring you right back. Visit it to believe it.
Relive history at the very spot where the 1857 mutiny took place which now serves as both a memorial and a beautiful garden.
This is the iconic symbol of Lucknow. With a soaring height of 65 feet, one can simply not miss a shot with this place. Tip- Head to the park next to the gate to get the best-uninterrupted shots.
Kukrail crocodile reserve
Though lying in the outskirts of Lucknow, this place introduces you to the world of crocodile breeding. Well, who will miss an opportunity to capture them in pictures forever? Not me!
Go retro and travel like royalty used to! DO take the ikka ride from Bada Imambara to Chota Imambara and fall in love with it.
Being one of the 6 places in the country to house an Egyptian mummy, visiting Lucknow brings the mystic African country right to you. The museum complex has some rare artifacts dating back to the early centuries. Also, visit the wildlife here as the museum is situated right in the middle of the Lucknow Zoo.
Other prominent places include- Hazratganj, Lucknow art Gallery, Chota Imambara, Nehru Planetarium.
Note-All the monuments/ museums are opened from 9am-5pm and most of them observe Holidays on Monday. Details can be checked from http://www.uptourism.gov.in/pages/top/explore/lucknow.
So pack your bags and book your tickets as Lucknow is standing there waiting to welcome you with open arms and saying “ Musskuraiye ki aap Lucknow mein hain”( Smile because you are in Lucknow).