Lucknow is actually popular because of its nawabi shaan which comprises of breathtaking monuments and edifices which are a product of the city’s glorious past. The City of Nawabs is a rich compilation of cultures from around the world and it blends the present day chaos with the calm of a departed time.
This World Heritage Day, here are 7 sites across Lucknow which spell architectural extravagance like no other in the city.
Rumi Darzawa/Rumi Gate
This architectural wonder was built by the 4th nawab of Lucknow, Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula and it is believed to be similar to a gate in Istanbul called Bab-iHümayun. So this 60 feet high Rumi Darwaza is also sometimes referred to as the Turkish Gate. In 1748, Awadh was suffering from severe famine and survival of a large part of the population was at stake. To help people overcome this crisis, Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula decided to build the Bara Imambara along with the Rumi Darwaza for employment generation! This darwaza has become the de facto symbol of Lucknow in recent times, whether it is for tourism promotions or simply for building an identity for Lucknow.
We’d highly recommend you to visit this wonder at midnight, after the city’s chaos settles to actually embrace the feels of this locale.
Location: 17/11, Hussainabad Road, Lajpat Nagar Colony, Machchhi Bhavan, Lucknow.
Built along with the iconic Rumi Darwaza, the Bara Imambada is one of the most prominent heritage sites of Lucknow.
Its central hall is said to be the largest vaulted chamber in the world except for the galleries in the interior, there is no woodwork in the entire structure! This makes the architecture unique and the roof has been put together with interlocking bricks without using a beam or a girder. It is now used by Shia Muslims for the purpose of Azadari although it is accessible to all.
This structure has deep underground passages which have been blocked now and a staircase from outside leads to a series of labyrinths known as Bhool-Bhulaiya. It is a confusing knot of almost a thousand of snaking passages which is why visitors are advised to visit only with authorised guides who are available there at the compound.
Location: Just beside the Rumi Darwaza.
Also called as the Hussainabad Imambara, this small shrine was built in the year 1838 by Mohammad Ali Shah, the third nawab of Awadh.
The Chhota Imambara is situated near the Bara Imambara and it houses the nawab and his family’s grave. Since it was built during the famine, it provided livelihood to thousands of labourers who worked for its construction. The design of the Chhota Imambara boasts of a gilded white dome, turrets and minarets which are based upon the Charbagh pattern.
The extensive use of glass work in the building reflects Persian style of architecture and the walls are inscribed with Arabic calligraphy. The Chhota Imambara is also called the Palace of Lights, given that it is illuminated during celebrations and festivities.
It also serves as a gallery of life size portraits of the nawabs of Awadh and there is a serene pond surrounded by green lawns and trees which generates enough content for your camera.
Location: In the vicinity of the Bara Imambara and Rumi Darwaza.
Qaiserbagh comprises of many heritage monuments of Lucknow that were built in the Nawabi era. Situated in the heart of the city, is one such elegant beauty which is the Safed Baradari.
The word Baradari comes from two words; “bara” meaning twelve, and “dwar” meaning door so a Baradari is literally a building or structure with twelve doors. There is a large terrace in front of it with carved marble screens as fencing and this structure contains elaborate stucco work, beautiful arched gateways and windows with twin columns.
It is a picturesque edifice and even the famous Sanatkada festival is held here every year- you can book this place too.
Location: Maharaja Mahmudabad, Qaisar Bagh, Lucknow.
La Martiniere Boys' College
Established in 1869, La Martiniere is actually one of the most prominent schools in India. It is one of the oldest institutions of Lucknow that not only into top-notch education but also serves as a heritage site.
The La Martiniere Boys’ College is the only school in the world to have been awarded royal battle honours for its role in the defence of Lucknow during the mutiny of 1857.
Also referred to as Constantia, it’s structural design unfolds the amalgamation of the best motifs of the Indian, Turkish and Persian architectural styles of the world. Several Bollywood movies have been shot here in the campus and who really wouldn’t want to attend this stunning school?!
Location: La Martiniere Rd, Martin Purva, Lucknow.
The British Residency of Lucknow is a famous historical landmark and the main building overlooks the Gomti river and is surrounded by terraced lawns and gardens . It is now in ruins and has been declared a protected monument by the Archaeological Survey of India. The British Residency was the place that served as a refuge for British inhabitants during the time of the uprising of 1857. Lucknow was center of all British activities during the siege and the Residency became the monopolistic center of the British for quite sometime.
Today, the British Residency serves as a government office and also has a museum that is well-maintained by the authorities.
Location: Mahatma Gandhi Marg, Deep Manak Nagar, Qaisar Bagh, Lucknow.
The Chattar Manzil stands on the banks of the Gomti river and is an example of the Indo-European-Nawabi architectural style, even though some parts of it has been altered over the years.
One of the most intriguing structures of Lucknow, Chattar Manzil is a very famous tourist attraction mainly because of the umbrella-shaped dome from which it has derived its name. Now the Chattar Manzil serves as an office for the Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI).
Location: Mahatma Gandhi Marg, Qaisar Bagh, Lucknow.
Lucknow is rightfully a component of the heritage arc of Uttar Pradesh because of its historical vibrancy and the Nawabi era finesse coupled with contemporary progressions have made this our favourite sheher.