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10 Most Underrated Things to do in Lucknow

There is a lot more to Lucknow than just kebabs. The artsy aesthetic vibes that the city radiates is hard to find anywhere else in the country. Lucknow has an essence, a feel of its own. The people have an attitude of their own. You like it or not, the savage slang is at the heart of its people. The narrow lanes, the broader lanes, the parks with elephants, the smell of food almost everywhere are not even the beginning of what you can feel and find in Lucknow. Furthermore, the city has a fierce history with rebellion at its core. Some of the most significant events in India’s history unfolded here. In 1856, when the British took over the city, it was ruled by the Nawabs of Awadh. The Shia Muslims came from Persia in the early 18th century and gained control of the region when the Mughal empire crumbled. The city commemorates the feel of its then reigning Nawabs and makes it a place of interest to lovers of history and architecture. 

Amir Hasan writes in his ‘Palace Culture of Lucknow’, ‘No other city can perhaps claim to have won a larger measure of love and loyalty from its citizens than Lucknow’. He has compared Lucknow to “an exquisitely charming courtesan who is highly sophisticated, elegant, well-mannered, is a good conversationalist, has a fairly good knowledge of contemporary literature and topics of the day, and is capable of satisfying the diverse tastes and needs of her clients and admirers”.

Today we will not talk about the places you can visit, today we will talk about the most underrated things one could find and explore in the city. 

  • Bada mangal: This is one of the exclusive celebrations in Lucknow. Bada Mangal is celebrated in the month of June. The festival, believed to be 400 years old, is mainly celebrated in Lucknow and a few other places in Uttar Pradesh. Bada Mangal is observed on all Tuesdays of the Jyestha month of the Hindu calendar. You can find a lot of pandals, especially near Lord Hanuman temples, distributing prasad which consists of relishing sabji-pudi.
  • Chowk Culture: The chowk experience is similar and distinctive to the chowk of cities like Delhi and Hyderabad. The congested lanes spew the artistic craftsmanship of the city and boast the glory skill and heritage. It is one of the best places to see where numerous workshops are tucked away and with lines of shops stock embroidered garments for all age groups.
  • Awadhi Cuisine: Awadhi cuisine is undoubtedly one of the admissible relishes in the city. A few dishes of the cuisine consist of Awadhi Gosht Korma, a delectable mutton preparation cooked in a traditional Lucknowi dum style to enhance the festivities of Ramadan. Nazaqati Boti Kebab, a heavenly kebab dish is an easy snack option for your next dinner party. Nehari, another dish from the cuisine, cooked slowly overnight to bring out the best flavours of meat bombarding in your mouth. The list is endless, come to the city, every nook and corner of Hazratganj and Chowk offers you mouth-watering dishes. 
  • Awadhi Music: Apart from food for the stomach, comes the music for the soul. The Awadhi music of Lucknow. The kind of art, culture and traditions that emerged out of the city has almost come to define an entire genre of music today.  The Awadhi heritage comes alive with music, stories, folklore, anecdotes and events. The music is enjoyed in soiree which is again one of the cultural feasts enjoyed by the people in the city. Starting from the Ram and the journey of Awadhi music when Khusrau came in the 13th century from Delhi. He familiarised himself with the local dialect, Awadhi, and his sufiyana influence gave so many dimensions to the music of Awadh, starting from “Chaap Tilak to Mai Toh Piya se Naina Milayi”.
  • Lucknow Heritage Walk: Lucknow boasts an inexpensive guided heritage walk and a must try to get acquainted with Lucknow’s Old City and the major monuments from the Nawabi era. Organised by Uttar Pradesh Tourism, it is a well-planned walk that covers Teele Wali Masjid, the landmark Bara Imambara, Gol Darwaza and Akbari Darwaza gates, lively alleyways of Chowk Bazaar, and Phool Wali Gali (flower seller lane). This can very easily be transformed into a photo walk capturing the beautiful architectural grandeur and simultaneously getting immersed in local life and culture. You’ll be encouraged to interact with the people you encounter in the market area and hear their stories. The walk runs daily from 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. April through September, and 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. October through March. 
  • Chikan Craftsmanship: Who isn’t intrigued with these beautiful handwoven patterns? One of the many feathers the city wears is this — delicate floral chikan embroidery. It appears on saris, kurta and suits pieces. You can witness the work under process by visiting chikan workshops, as well as silver foil and block printing workshops, there are a number of sites available to book your visits. 
  • The Dhobi ghats Aesthetics: The dhobi ghat with colourful clothes washed and hanged for sun drying is one of the most aesthetic sites for photography and videography. The colourful clothes set the background quite uniquely. The dhobis (washermen) specialize in starching and ironing garments that have just been embroidered. Start at Kudia Ghat, which is a 5-minute walk north of Rumi Darwaza near Bara Imambara. Boat rides are also available from the ghat.
  •  The grace of Khatak: One thing to notably observe in Lucknow is the love for art. The city is immersed in art and the culture is deeply ingrained in its spirit. Gratitude to Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, the artistic last ruler of the city, Lucknow is also highly revered for its elegant Kathak classical dance that depicts love and romance. The dance form is said to be developed mainly in his royal court. The dance form takes years of practice for perfection, but you can get the feel of it by participating in Kathak learning classes or enjoy it in events that take place every now and then. Due to the pandemic, it may have been affected but nevertheless, the gleams of it will never fade away. 
  • Passion for Paan: No, I am not kidding, Lucknowi people have a thing for paan. You may find paan in many parts of the country but nowhere you witness people’s obsession with it and every fourth or fifth person with an orange mouth. Well, it doesn’t end there, the city offers varieties in flavour( my favourite is Chocolate). Although there are numerous places in the city,  one of the best places which will not disappoint is a small stall near Tunday Kababi in Kaisarbagh, a place that has its own vibe. 

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