The City of Rich Traditions
Formerly known as Avadh, Lucknow is the renowned capital of the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. Lucknow, the “Golden city of the east”, is popularly called the city of Nawabs and Kababs. The royal city, nestled on the banks of the river Gomti, is admired for the richest forms of art, culture and traditions. Art forms like Kathak, Thumri, Khayal, Dadra, Qawali, Ghazals and Shero-Shairi evolved with the Avadh Kings and the Mughals. Besides, Lucknow is popular as a great tourist destination because of its rich history, architecture, handicrafts, exquisite embroidery, etiquette, and even sports.
The city traces its origin to the Suryavanshi dynasty of Ayodhya in ancient times, and derives its name from Lakshmana (the brother of Lord Rama). The city is known all over the world for the tehjeeb or the courteous behaviour of its people.
Visit the last puritan Indo-Islamic architecture that does not incorporate any European elements such as use of iron and spires even. Bara Imambara is known for its historical, cultural and heritage importance. Built in the year 1784 by Nawab Asaf ud Daula, the Bara Imambara is known for its simplicity of style, sheer proportion and symmetry. Like the Chota Imambara and the popular Rumi Darwaza, this monument (also known as Asafai Imambara) was also built under the 'Food For Work' program, initiated by Nawab Asad-ud-Daula. The objective behind constructing this monument was to provide employment to the people who were affected by persistent famines.
Being the world’s largest arched room without any pillars, it is 162 feet long, 53 feet broad, and 50 feet high, and apart from the galleries in the interior, there is no woodwork anywhere. The Nawabs used to hold public hearings here. One can see the large Asfi mosque, and the series of artfully designed labyrinths (bhool-bhulaiya) where it is very easy to get lost. The summer palace with running water is another attraction at Bara Imambara.
Chhota Imambara or Husseinabad Imambara is often called 'The Palace of Light' in British History Chronicles because it was heavily decorated during festivals. Located in the Old City area of Lucknow, the monument is again a marvellous piece of architecture and art work by the then Nawab of Awadh named Muhammad Ali Shah. This was also constructed under the 'Food for Work' program for the people who were hit by persistent famines. This landmark was completed in the year 1837 on the Charbagh pattern with a stream running through the middle of the garden. Apart from the extraordinary Indo-Islamic architecture, the interiors with lovely Arabic calligraphy and glasswork is another attractions. The Imambara has the tombs of Muhammad Ali Shah and other members of his family.
Lucknow Museum is a complete package of thrill, adventure and surprise. Situated at Banarasi Bagh area in a modern three-storied building, the museum is known for the rarest collection of sculptures, bronzes, paintings, natural history and anthropological specimens, coins, textiles and decorative arts. One can find sculptures of the earliest images of Balarama as well as a Panch-Mukhi Shiv Lingam in the museum. It also displays an antique collection of coins from the Indus Valley Civilization era to that of the present day. The most surprising element of the museum is an Egyptian Mummy and the pistol of Chandrashekhar Azad, a famous freedom fighter. The place boasts of having numerous works of art that are of historical importance.
Lucknow Chikankari (Shopping Attraction)
Appreciated all over the world for their rich embroidery patterns, Chikankari is confined to the city of Lucknow. This specialty of Lucknow is actually a very complex and delicate form of embroidery that primarily uses muslin clothes. 'Chikankari' is basically a Persian word that means muslin wrought with needlework. The designs in Chikankari seem to be influenced by the Mughal art. The art of Chikankari started during the rule of the Avadh Nawabs as they were the trend setters. The art remained confined only to them for a long time but with the emergence of the British empire this art was made available to the masses. Light Chikan Sarees and white Chikan Kurtas are considered to be the best wear for women and men respectively in summers in north Indian regions. Chikanwork makes Lucknow one of the major shopping hubs in India.
This gateway is another marvellous piece of architecture by Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula constructed in 1784. Also known as the Turkish Gateway, the Rumi Darwaza is an extraordinary example of Avadh architecture and is unmatched in the whole world. The gateway lies in the northwest direction of Bara Imambara and leads to the outer section of the same. This brilliant structure was built as a relief work during the famine of 1783 under the programme of 'Food For Work', initiated by the Nawab. Asaf-ud-Daula built a number of historical monuments during his empire. This grand gateway is about 60 feet high and its uppermost part consists of a cenotaph that can be approached by a staircase.
Shah Najaf Imambara
Shah Najaf Imambara is a wonderful piece of architecture, located on the right bank of River Gomti. This white-domed structure was constructed by Nawab Ghazi-ud-Din Haider to serve as his mausoleum. The remains of Ghazi-ud-din Haider and his wives are buried here. There is a beautiful vast garden at the entry that leads to the silver tomb of Ghazi-ud-din Haider. Haider, the most valiant warrior and the greatest intellectual of Islam, was the son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad. His original name was Maula Ali. Due to his valiant efforts in protecting the nascent Islam, he was bestowed with the title of Haider-e-Khuda or "Lion of Allah". During his caliphate, he established his government in Najaf, a town in Iraq. That is why, he is often called Shah Najaf or the King of Najaf. Shah Najaf Imambara of Lucknow is dedicated to him.
The ResidencyThe Residency, a major historical monument, was the mansion of East India Company's agent in Avadh during the Sepoy Mutiny. It was actually constructed to serve as the residence of the British Resident General, who was a representative in the court of the Nawab. The Residency is a group of buildings that were built in 1800 A.D. by the Nawab of Avadh, Nawab Saadat Ali Khan. The ruins of the Lucknow Residency give a clear picture of the British rule in India. The year 1857, known for the First War of Indian Independence, saw the Sepoy Mutiny across the whole country. During the incident, almost all the Europeans who resided in the city of Awadh took shelter in Residency. About 3500 people, in the Residency, faced a siege of 140 days before they were rescued by British troops.
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