The sprawling yet exhilarating metropolis of Lucknow, capital city of the state of Uttar Pradesh, has long been regarded as the cultural and artistic heart of northern India, a legacy which began in 1722 with the first Nawab (a governer appointed by the Mughal Emperor) of the city. The successive Nawabs of Lucknow were renowned for their refinement and etiquette and for their patronage of the arts including dance, poetry, music, cuisine and design. Today, Lucknow retains this devotion to civilised behaviour, culture and the arts making the city an exceptionally welcoming and rewarding city to explore.
A historic landmark of Lucknow that should not be missed is the British Residency and Museum. The Residency was built in 1800 to house the British Resident General, but following the annexation of the former Indian state of Awadh by the British East India Company in 1857, became the site of a bloody siege at the hands of an Indian rebellion. The Residency's buildings and gardens have been preserved as they were at the time of the siege; the bullet holes, cannon damage and other battle scars remain untouched.
Besides an intriguing mix of traditional Mughal architecture and British colonial architecture that is evident throughout the city, friendly and cosmopolitan Lucknow offers visitors an abundance of landmarks, activities, entertainments and cultural experiences that includes something to please everyone.
Lucknow and the state of Uttar Pradesh are the origins of an elaborate cuisine that features Mughal delicacies including varieties of tikkas, biriyanis and kebabs that are now enjoyed around the world. Lucknow offers a wide range of dining establishments at which the finest and most authentic versions of these dishes may be sampled.
For a cultural experience the Ravindralaya Auditorium, which is located near to Lucknow's two railway stations, provides free performances of classical and traditional dance, theatre and music.
Souvenir and bargain hunters who enjoy an authentic shopping experience should eschew Lucknow's many modern shopping malls in favour of the city's traditional markets. Aminabad market in the old part of the city has been in existence for more than 160 years and is a good place to find example of the Chikan embroidery for which Lucknow is famous. Chowk, also in the old city, is another ancient market and specialises in handicrafts, ornaments, toys, clothes and shoes.
Bird spotters should not miss Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary, which is just outside the city on the Kanpur-Lucknow Road, and is a wooded park with a lake that is not only home to more than 250 species of bird but also to herds of spotted and barking deer and a number of snake species including vipers and watersnakes.