Anuradha beniwal – a former National Chess Champion, is now an author of ‘Azaadi mera brand’. Her new book is…
When people decide to spend their vacation in a new city, they always end up choosing hill-stations or places with sandy beaches or all those fancy tourist destinations. Nobody would ever choose a place which is not endowed with geographical landforms. And that is where they go wrong. India is a country which has the most diverse form of history and culture. And small places like Lucknow, Moradabad, Allahabad might seem as someone’s least favorite destinations, but they are rich in India’s alluring traditions and culture. And yes, although they are not-so-good in offering you fascinating water-bodies, mountains or valleys, they still offer you a lot- knowledge and pleasure which can only be found in places like these.
I am strictly gonna talk about my hometown, the land of ‘nawabs’- Lucknow. I don’t know how are you going to travel there, but if it’s by flight, then yes, the airport will surely disappoint you. It’s a small airport with just 6 gates. When you come out, the stench of the city will be a little frustrating. If you’re coming by train, then the railway station will disappoint you even more. Unclean and disorganized- there are people lying on the platforms and at the entrance. There is barely place to walk and when you drag your luggage, it will hit many a people. There are vehicles, vendors, noise and pollution. But that’s the beauty of being in Lucknow, as funny as this might sound. And there are several places to visit in Lucknow, so don’t have a misconception.
Lucknow is a place of ‘nawabi’ tradition and most importantly food. Food is THE most known thing about this city. Street food, restaurants or just small shops- food is there and in abundance. It doesn’t cost much either and there’s a variety like no other. The three top food joints are Tunday Kabab, The Mughal Dastarkhwan and Marksmen. The biggest and the first branch of Tunday Kabab is in Gomti Nagar. It’s a place visited by many celebs and stars and it doesn’t disappoint you either. Finger-licking kababs traditionally made for a nawab by a one-armed chef will literally melt in your mouth. And then you m
ove on to The Mughal Dastarkhwan which is in Lalbagh. This side of the city is completely flooded with food joints. The Mughal Dastarkhwan is a hub for non-vegetarian food especially chicken. You can’t just visit this place and not eat tandoori chicken mate! And don’t forget to visit Marksmen either, which is my favourite food-joint in the city. Starting from the Chinese food to the mutton dosa, everything is extremely delicious. And let me tell you, it’ll be very hard to get food from this place because it’s always so full of people. And just so, you happen to acquire a lot of moolahs and your pocket is jingling loud enough, do visit the Taj Hotel. Exquisite cuisine and remarkable service are the only two words I have for this place.
Then, talking about recreational places. Well, there’s always City Zoo. I know this is kind of funny but Lucknow Zoo has a very beautiful museum inside. And well known archaeologists work there. Lucknow also has a lot of buildings constructed by the Britishers in their times. The most famous is The British Residency and La Martiniere College which also happens to be the best boys school in this city. One should definitely visit the Chota and Bara Imambara. These two places were built for the Shia Muslims for Azadari. Bara Imambara is a grand place and history drips from every iota of this building. The Bawli and Bhool Bhulaiya are the most notable places to visit in this building. Once you go there, you’ll get to know a lot of uncanny and disbelieving facts about Nawabi culture which obviously I will not reveal here. And when you want to go for a little shopping, do visit Hazratganj. A classy, clean and ostentatious destination for shopping, especially at night.
The people of Lucknow are good and welcoming. The language is beautiful and inviting. Where Hindi dialects in other cities incorporate the words like ‘tu’, ‘teri’, ‘mera’, main’, the language in Lucknow converts to ‘tum’, ‘tumhari’, ‘hum’ and ‘humari’. Take a little detour and visit Lucknow for some time. And don’t forget to smile because ‘Mubarak ho, aap Lucknow mein hain’.