I was always fascinated by this city since I had a couple of friends from this place. So, the moment I got a chance to be here, I went!!
The weather in April is terrible. The city is more like an oven, so I tried traveling early mornings to parks and other sightseeing places, had enough water and used #uber throughout.
The first day, I had a lot of office work, so I didn’t travel during the day. For dinner, me and my parents went to Clarks Awadh to attend a wedding. The hotel, I’d say is pretty average. Until now, Clarks Shimla is the most beautiful Clarks property I have seen. So don’t cover this if you are here for a short duration.
Lucknow is not a huge city. You could go from Point A to Point B in max 30mins. And it is a paradise for non veg lovers. I am a vegetarian usually and consume fish sometimes, but whenever I travel, I eat whatever is suggested to understand better the city’s culture and it’s relation with food.
So, in Lucknow, your To-do List should look something like this:
1) Tunday Kebab @ Aminabad. If you happen to be here, and don’t eat Tunday Kebab, I won’t consider your trip to this exotic city complete. They are spicy like most of other things in Lucknow, but are very very tender and have a meaty flavor.
2) Basket Chat @ Royal Cafe. This is the combination of all the chat you’ve ever had. This one chat is a cocktail of chat papdi, gol gappa, the edible sabudana basket, the tikki, the dahi bhalla, and so on. You could have it for brunch in case you are eating alone, or could share it with a couple of more people as I did.
3) Idris ki Biryani @ Chowk. This is one of the most proclaimed biryani of Lucknow. Although I couldn’t eat it, but I have heard that the place is very humble but the biryani is simply amazing.
4) Sharma Tea @ Lalbagh. I went here twice for the tea and bun maska/samosa. I am the last person in my house to give in to any of these maida/deep friend snacks but my FOMO always makes me indulge in everything while I am traveling. The buns are pretty soft and come with unsweetened cream in the center. The samosa too is very crisp and the filling is somewhat juicy unlike other samosa that you encounter.
5) Majlisi Kebab @ Naushijaan, Hazratganj: This is a very spicy gravy like consistency of kebab that can be tried with rumali roti, onions and some soft drink. Although I don’t take cold drinks, but if you do, I have sense that it’ll make a good combination. This place too gets a lot of celebrity visitors.
6) Turkish Ice-cream @ Naushijaan, Hazratganj. This is a tawa ice cream, that are made on iced tawa, then folded like paper into rolls, and are quite nice.
7) Chicken Masala & Chicken Kaali Mirch @ Dastarkhwan, Lalbagh. These are the most celebrated dishes of this joint. Some movies like Daawat-e-Ishq have been shot in this restaurant. I didn’t like the Chicken Kaali Mirch much because it was oily, but it was tender and could be appreciated by someone who doesn’t appreciate spicy food. There is a good seating area in Lalbagh, which isn’t there in Hazratganj, so the Hazratganj outlet is more like a take away/evening street food type of a joint, so plan accordingly.
8) Prakash Kulfi @ Aminabad. I didn’t try this, but if you are a vegetarian, have time and are fond of kulfi/lassi, this should be on your list.
9) Shopping @ Janpath. a) Chikankari suits: The designs of the suits are amazing at Janpath. In case you take any rickshaw/ auto, the driver will take you to Sewa Chikan/Aman Chikan, that give commission to the rickshaw drivers. But unlike those, the quality and styles of the ones at janpath are much better.
b) Ittar @ Sugandco. Lucknow is famous for these natural oil based highly concentrated perfumes. So, if you want to buy some, this is the best shop.
10) Oudhyana, Taj Vivanta: There is street food on one hand, and five stars at the other. But to get the essence of everything, one must dine at least once in these hotels, to get a sip of the aristocratic living in this part of the country. The hotel was minimalistic but pretty. I had the lamb biryani and khush rang paneer along with the crispy onion kulcha, and everything was good but I wouldn’t say great. The ambience was a lottt better than Clarks. If you ask me for one recommendation to eat here, it would be biryani because it had a very pleasant aroma of saffron and the meat was pretty tender.
11) Bara Imambara & Chhota Imambara. Imambara is the place of worship for muslims, and since this city has a lot of culture flowing in from the muslim nawabs, you should visit this part of the city. You’d see old buildings, that are not even maintained properly but that give you goosebumps when you actually start feeling the kind of things that happened there, and that still happen there. Whenever the riots happen among the shias and the sunnis, they happen, on that very road. My advise would be to travel really early in the morning so that you get to see these places and understand the culture at leisure. Timings are 6AM to 5PM, and the fee is Rs. 50. If you don’t have much time, you can skip the bhool bhulaiya in Bara Imambara but cover the rest.
12)Rumi Gate. So, I am a huge fan of Rumi, and thought that this place must have some connect with Rumi – the poet, but to my dismay, this didn’t have any. The nawab had 365 wives, out of whom one of the wife’s name was Rumi, and thus this is on the name of one of his wives. But it is still very encchanting, and you could see this well before you enter Bara Imambara.
13) British Residency. This is pretty close to the imambara, so plan on doing this as well early in the morning. You need to walk a lot here so go in comfortable shoes. I didn’t cover this because I had a paucity of time.
These are my suggestions and my take over the City of Nawabs, Lucknow. If you are expecting a very modern city, it isn’t. If you are expecting, a great crowd on the roads, there isn’t. But if you are looking for a secular country, people good at heart, culture at it’s best, and great food then Lucknow could be the city that you can plan next to visit!