Lucknow Travel Guide
Home to the first Indian uprising against the British, Lucknow is a remarkable place to visit. As impressive as this story is, this city is also a centre of North Indian culture.
From religious sights to mouthwatering cuisine, your time here will be action-packed from start to finish.
Come check out our Lucknow itinerary travel guide as we cover the best things to do in Lucknow, India.
After arriving in Lucknow, it won’t be long before the imposing Bara Imambara captures your attention. It is a massive congregation hall where Shia Muslims gather annually to honour the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali.
However, this structure isn’t defined by its immense size or beauty, but by its backstory. In 1785, a crippling famine struck the Lucknow area. Apart from hunger, unemployed workers swamped the city. To relieve the suffering of the people, ruler Asaf-ud-Daula commissioned the building of an ambitious Imambara.
Not only did this project provide the city’s workers with plenty to do, but the city’s elites also lengthened its duration. They did this by secretly undoing some of the work done by labourers. After the workers went home, noblemen removed bricks under cover of darkness.
Completed in 1791, the Bara Imambara was one of the last projects in India built without European input. As you tour this attraction, you’ll see Mughal style aspects in its arches, ironwork, and spires. One more note: rumours state that tunnels exist under the Imambara. Some reputedly stretch all the way to Delhi – don’t confirm this legend, as people have reportedly gone missing.
Take a step back into British India by checking out The Residency. Now in ruins, this complex was once home to the British Resident General and their staff. Serving as a liaison to the Crown, this official played a key role in British Empire’s mission to control India.
Throughout this historic park, you’ll see signs of the attack that devastated this complex in the 19th century. From walls shattered by cannons to bullet holes, you can only imagine the chaos of that horrible day.
Today, these structures are surrounded by brilliant gardens, making it a popular attraction for locals and tourists alike. Stick around until the evening, as a nightly light show brings the past alive in illuminating fashion.
When the British came, they brought their education system with them. If you have time, check out the grand buildings that make up La Martiniere College. Founded in 1845, this school is what The Economist magazine calls the best preserved colonial structures in Lucknow.
Like the Bara Imambara, La Martiniere College has a compelling history. In 1857, insurgents attacked this school during the Indian Rebellion. Fortunately for the pupils, the school included military skills and tactics in their curriculum.
For almost three months, students stood alongside British and Indian troops in defence of their school. Some openly joined the fight, but most assisted in domestic tasks and medical relief. Only two died of dysentery, while the enemy wounded two others.
The school still functions as a boarding school in the present day. Do enjoy touring the campus, but be respectful of the students who study and live here.
Of all the religious landmarks in the Lucknow area, Chandrika Devi Temple stands out the most. Rajkumar Chandraketu, the founder of Lucknow, originally built it to honour the Hindu Goddess Chandi.
Forced to take refuge in a forest by night, he prayed to Chandi for safety. She appeared to him, assuring he would be safe. Invaders razed the original structure he built, leading to its reconstruction shortly after.
This temple is at its best during the festivals of Navratras and Amavasya. People engage in rituals like Hawan (prayer over fire) and Mundan (a child’s first hair cut) – don’t miss it!
Explore the most eclectic shopping districts in Lucknow by visiting the Hazratganj. After the quelling of the Indian Rebellion, the British rudely claimed it for themselves in 1857. They demolished many traditional structures, replacing them with British colonial architecture.
Made to resemble Queen Street in London, the invaders completed the illusion of ‘home’ by banning locals from entering. Today, however, Lucknow residents have reclaimed it – you can find all manner of street food, souvenirs, and everyday goods here.
Not done shopping yet? Move on to the Chowk Market. The shophouses here have seen better days, but pay them no heed. With local clothing, ornaments, and antique goods, this place is as far from touristy as you can get.
Relax after a long day spent sightseeing in Lucknow by spending some time in Ambedkar Memorial Park. City authorities created this green space to honour the work of several people in achieving social justice.
As you make your way through this park, you’ll appreciate the work these people did to make India better.