Our history books always described Lucknow as the city of Nawabs. Now you don’t see them anymore around. But the legacy of ‘Tehzeeb’ that they left behind is still the trademark of the city, that if you take the time to mingle with the old timers of the city.
Lucknow had been on my ‘to be visited’ list for a very long time. So as soon as I got an opportunity to visit it, I jumped to take it. I got to see the Bada Imambara, Chhota Imambara, Shahi Hammam, Clocktower and swift through the Hazrat Ganj, courtesy a friend who works there. After a long time got a joy ride on Tonga through the old city
Bara Imambara & Bhool Bhulaiya
The most memorable part of this visit was a small conversation with the guide who took me around the Bara Imambara and Bhool Bhulaiya. To begin with, I was just another tourist for him. But as I started talking to him he started telling me a lot of things. He kept calling me ‘Bitiya’ and the ‘Adab’ with which he spoke I had never heard of. He had been a guide all his life and was in his late fifties. And he took me through a way in Bhool Bhulaiya and asked me to trace my way back. Which I managed to and he was not too happy about it. As he almost challenges all his tourists for that. I took some time to explain to him that since I was concentrating on the way, I could make it.
But in a panic situation, it would be impossible to make the way through those dark corridors that can lead you to the same place where you started from. He then took me to the Bauli and explained to me the history and the architecture of the place.
Some key observations on how the tourists get handled in most of the places in India, and I found a re-enforcement of the same in Lucknow. We try to cheat people as soon and as far as possible. Probably people will be willing to pay them the same amount as they fleece if only they would be more upfront. The heritage buildings are in pits and no one, not even the people who make an earning out of it try to keep it clean. I asked my guide, why don’t you try and keep it clean. All it takes is to have a dustbin put in few places here and there. But the answer was as anticipated, the government is to be blamed, I wonder ‘Is it?’
The traveler in me says the Chowk area of Lucknow is a perfect place for walking tours. Covering all the above locations and maybe a boat ride at Gomti River, and a shopping stop at some reliable Chickankari shop. There are people who are passionate about this place. There is a culture that this city has to offer. And there is a heritage that the next generations need an introduction to. Any takers for organizing walking tours in this Nawabi city….:-)
Recommend you read following travel blog posts on places to visit in Uttar Pradesh.