Travel Bucket List: India – Uttar Pradesh Part 5

Kanpur
About 150 km south of Naimisharanya lies the city of Kanpur, also known as the leather city of the world or the Manchester of the East. Known as Cawnpore during the British colonial rule, Kanpur, founded in 1803 was one of the most important commercial and military stations of British India. Nestled on the banks of the Ganges River, Kanpur is the ninth-largest urban economy in India and is famous for its colonial architecture, gardens, parks and fine quality leather products which are exported mainly to the west.

In 1207, Raja Kanh Deo of the Kanhpuria clan established the village of Kanhpur, which later came to be known as Kanpur. Other stories say Kanpur established by king Hindu Singh Chandel of Sachendi, who named it Kanhiyapur because it was said to be founded on the birthday of Lord Krishna. Later it was known as Kanhapur, Caunpoore and Cawnpore and many old texts suggest that it derived its name from the legendary character of Mahabharata, Karna, as it was also called Karnapur. In the 19th century, Cawnpore was an important British garrison with barracks for 7,000 soldiers. During the Indian Rebellion of 1857, 900 British men, women and children were besieged in the fortifications for 22 days by rebels under Nana Sahib Peshwa and surrendered on the agreement that they would get safe passage to the nearby Satti Chaura Ghat whereupon they would board barges and be allowed to go by river to Allahabad. Though there is no clear indication on what exactly happened at the Satti Chaura Ghat, and who fired the first shot, it is known that, soon afterwards, the departing British were shot at by the rebel sepoys and were either killed or captured. Although the East India Company later accused Nana Sahib of betrayal and murder of innocent people, no evidence has ever been found to prove that Nana Sahib had pre-planned or ordered the massacre. Some historians believe that the Satti Chaura Ghat massacre was the result of confusion, and not of any plan implemented by Nana Sahib and his associates. Many were killed and the remaining 200 British women and children were brought back to shore and sent to a building called the Bibighar or the ladies’ home, but were killed three days before the British entered the city. The dismembered bodies were thrown into a nearby deep well. When the British retook the city they committed a series of retaliations against the rebel sepoys and civilians caught in the area, including women, children and old men. The incident was known as the Cawnpore Massacre

Kanpur is a city where one finds a perfect blend of history, architecture, commerce and culture with authentic cuisines, traditional theatrical art and an amalgamation of two eras running parallelly. Having played a significant role in the first Indian war of Independence, Kanpur houses several historical tourists’ spots. Being situated on the banks of Ganges, it serves as a pilgrimage destination too. Apart from this, the IIT-Kanpur is a major educational institute of the region and one of the country’s best.

The JK Temple, also known as the Juggilal Kamplapat temple was constructed by the Singhania family in 1953 with an idol of the Hindu deity Radha Krishna is found at the centre of the temple which is surrounded in lush greenery and small lakes. The temple has beautiful stone carvings on the outside with conical roofs and the marble embellished Shri Radhakrishna Temple towards the eastern side displays the use of contrasting ancient and modern, as well as South Indian and North Indian methods of design. The temple features extensive pavilions called mandapas used for rituals, decorated high ceilings and surrounding ponds and garden areas with lush greenery. The temple consists of five major beautifully designed shrines of the deities Radha and Krishna, Lakshmi and Narayan, Ardhanarishwar, Narmadeshwar and Hanuman. The Radha and Krishna altar is the most prominent shrine with each adorned with colourful decorations and flower garlands, featuring intricate sculptures of the respective deities. The festival of Janmashtami is very popular when the temple remains open all day. The temple is open from 5 am to 12 noon and then from 4 to 10 pm and the aarti takes place at 7 pm daily.

The ISKCON temple dedicated to Lord Krishna is located about 4 km from Kanpur. The deities receive an annual Maha Abhishek, which is the traditional bathing of the holy idols, at the Royal Gold Leaf Shrine. In addition to customary rituals, there are three festivals that mark this significant custom. The avatars of Lord Krishna, Sri Sri Radha Madhav, Sri Sri Nitai Gaursundar and Sri Sri Janakai Janaki Vallabha Laxman Hanuman are decorated and preserved. The best time to visit the temple is in August and September for the Krishna Janmashtami and Radhashtami festivals respectively. The temple is open from 4:30 am to 1:30 pm and then from 4:30 to 8:30 pm.

The Jain Glass Temple or the is made out of glass and honours Lord Mahavira and the remaining 23 Jain Tirthankaras. There are various statues, attractive embellishments and delicate glass murals that highlight important details of Jain history and traditions. The temple also has a beautiful garden with prominent sculptures of Jain deities. The temple is fashioned entirely out of glass and this includes its walls, floors, pillars, panels, doors and ceilings, which showcase intricate carvings and decorative mirror-work. It also features life-size idols and paintings of Lord Mahavira and his disciples along with a seating area for prayer and reading ancient scriptures. The temple is open between 8 am and 12 noon and from 4 to 5 pm daily.

The Ram Janki Mandir is dedicated to Lord Hanuman and is a very sacred temple. The temple derives its name from Lord Ram and Goddess Janaki or Sita. The temple has a spectacular interior architecture with the walls comprising of beautiful stone carvings which wonderfully illustrates various scenes from the Ramayana. The huge idol of Hanuman is set in the middle of the temple around which devotees are allowed to chant the Hanuman Chalisa all day long. The temple is open between 6 am and 8 pm daily.

One of the oldest churches in India, the Kanpur Memorial Church is also known as the All Souls Cathedral Church and is well known for its architecture and historical importance. Established in 1857, the church is a memoir of the lost British troops of the Sepoy Mutiny. Designed by Walter Granville an architect of the East Bengal Railway, the red-bricked church is made in the Lombardic Gothic Style and has a memorial garden on its east corner. Separated from the main building, the garden has an intricately carved gothic screen. The centre of the church has a structure of an angel sculpted by Baron Carlo Marchettiwith crossed arms symbolising peace. The church is open between 9 am and 6 pm.

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Moti Jheel is a water reservoir which translates to Pearl Lake. The reservoir also has boating facilities and was constructed during the British colonial rule. Originally constructed as a water supply reserve by the British, it was opened as a public area and today houses a green enclosure and a kids’ park. The reservoir and garden is divided into sections including the Baal Udyan or the Children’s Park, which is a Japanese-styled garden, requiring a small entry fee. The reservoir is open from 5 am to 9 pm and does not have an entry fee.

The Nana Rao Park is a public garden centrally located and famous for its lush greenery, particularly evergreen trees and brightly coloured flower beds. The garden boasts of water-fountains and life-size statues of historical figures from India’s freedom struggle including Tatya Tope, Rani Lakshmi Bai, Lala Lajpat Rai and Ajizan Bai. The park features a historic banyan tree called the Boodha Bargad, symbolising freedom from the English colonisers. There is also a public swimming pool, a fitness facility and a plant nursery. Named after Peshwa Nana Rao, the Nana Rao Park was initially known as the Memorial Well Garden before independence and the present garden was built to replace the Memorial Well Garden with public funds. The park has an entry fee of INR 20 and is open between 5 am and 8 pm daily.

Mahatma Gandhi Park is a lush garden located in the cantonment area and is one of the oldest and parks in the city. The park is open between 9 am and 9 pm daily and has an entry fee of INR 50.

The entrance to the Gautam Buddha Park leads into a white dome supported by four pillars with an idol of Gautam Buddha built in a traditional architectural style. The park also hosts a canal that is the perfect boating spot and the best time to experience the park between October to March. The park which has an entry fee of INR 100 per person is open between 9 am and 6 pm daily.

Phool Bagh is a gorgeous urban park also known as Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi Udyan. Originally known as the Queen’s Park, the park is not only one of the oldest gardens in Kanpur but it also historical because it used to be the venue for political rallies and public meetings. The park also has the Kanpur Museum, a library and the Cawnpore Union Club on its premises. The park also has numerous statues of prominent freedom fighters including B.R Ambedkar, Mahatma Gandhi and Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi and has a huge hoisted Indian flag, about 150 feet tall. The KEM hall, also known as the Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi Udyan is bracketed by Phool Bagh on all four sides. The park is open from 10 am and 10 pm and has an entrance fee of INR 10.

Also known as Allen Forest Zoo, the Kanpur Zoological Park is located approximately 7 km from the city in the man-made Allen Forest and houses a picturesque landscape, lush vegetation, a beautiful lake, and several rare species of plants and animals. The zoo is home to many wildlife species and has prominent life-size models of dinosaurs, state-of-the-art enclosures, an international standard veterinary facility and attractive garden areas. Established in in 1971, the zoo was opened for public access in 1974. The zoo includes a botanical garden with several indigenous species of plants, a beautiful lake belonging to the Allen Forest, an aviary, a night house dedicated to nocturnal animals such as prickly porcupines and toddy cats and an aquarium for which there is an additional entry charge of INR 10. There is also a popular toy train which is a favourite with the little visitors. The zoo is open between 8 am to 5:30 pm and is open on all days except Mondays. Entrance fees for Indian adults is INR 30 and children between 6 and 9 years is INR 15. For foreign adults, it is INR 150 while children between the ages of 6 and 12 pay INR 75. On weekends and public holidays, Indian adults pay INR 40 while children pay INR 20 and foreigners pay the same fees.

Also known as the Luv Kush Barrage, the Ganges Barrage Kanpur is a 621 m bridge and dam across the Ganges. Constructed amidst abundant green surroundings, the bridge built in 1995 is a must-see on the highway.

Also known as the Kanpur Sangrahalay, the Kanpur Museum, the official museum of the city is located on the Pool Bagh grounds and exhibits artefacts and documents from the colonial period to the modern-day Kanpur. Formerly the King Edward Memorial Hall in memory of King Edward VII, it was renamed as the Gandhi Bhawan in 1999 and has an in-house public library. During the colonial rule,, European merchants came up with the idea of a European-styled hall for cultural activities, which was then renamed after King Edward VII after his death in 1910. Initially built as a European style ballroom, the Kanpur Museum comprises of a large hall type structure with the highly decorated ceiling and a clock tower. After being converted to an official museum, specific architectural changes have been made, with the purposes of restoration, preservation and facilitation of the display of artefacts. The Museum is largely comprised of the collections from the British colonial period such as handwritten books of freedom fighters, their poetry, pistols, dresses, shoes etc. Apart from this, the Kanpur Museum has some important documents and literature on trade and industrialisation. One of the most iconic collections of the Kanpur Museum is an old colonial period artillery gun. The museum is closed on Mondays and on other days, it is open from 10:30 am to 4:30 pm and has an entry fee of INR 15. Please note that photography inside the museum is highly prohibited with violations leading to penalties.

The Massacre Ghat is located on the banks of the Ganga near Jajmau and covers the northern part of Kanpur. Officially named as the Nana Rao Ghat, this place is also known as the Sati Chaura Ghat as it was the very site where women used to perform the terrifying ritual of Sati. The ghat was a significant maritime route between Kanpur and Allahabad. With the Satya Ashram Mandir built here in 1966, the Ghat used to facilitate bathing and also has a sandpit nearby. Iti s a local site for wresters and is where an annual wrestling competition held between July and August. The ghat witnessed a mass scale bloodshed on June 27th, 1857. With over 300 British families brutally killed, the then Sati Chaura Ghat came to be known as the Massacre Ghat.

The leather city of Kanpur, Jajmau is a densely populated industrial suburb famous for its leather production. Also known as Jajesmow, it is regarded as one of the oldest inhabited places in the city. Located on the banks of the Ganga, Jajmau is also a popular excavation site and is home to the Siddhnath and Sri Devi temples, the primary reason of its former name, Siddhapuri. A small town of about 30 localities, this region is also mentioned in the stories of Hindu myth. The origin of the name Jajmau is hard to trace, but popular opinion is that the town had significant links to the British colonial era. The 1957-58 excavations conducted by the Archaeological Survey of India unearthed some intriguing utensils and other lifestyle bits from the 600 to 1600 AD. These ancient relics now preserved and exhibited at the Kanpur Sangrahalaya. It was found that the site once housed pre-Mauryan residential sections and pottery remains as well and that the current town of Jajmau had a fort by the banks of the Ganges. Jinnaton ki Masjid is an ancient hilltop mosque which resembles the Taj Mahal. There is a sufi tomb from the 1300s close to Tannery Town belonging to Makhdoom Shah Ala-ul-Haq, a prominent Sufi saint of the time. Other popular tourist attractions include Habiba Masjid, Jajmau Tila, Siddhant Ghat and other mosques and the Lal Bangla is a huge market with stores spread across 6 sq km. Jajmau is home to several prominent leather industries which generate an annual revenue of over 15,000 crores or or more than 2 million USD annually and about 30% of the Indian leather export.

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Lucknow
The capital of Uttar Pradesh, Lucknow is our next destination. About 94 km slightly northeast of Kanpur, Lucknow is the 14th most populous city and the 12th most populous urban agglomeration of India. A multicultural city that flourished as a North Indian cultural and artistic hub, and the seat of power of Nawabs in the 18th and 19th centuries, Lucknow sits on the northwestern shore of the Gomti River, Lucknow’s chief geographical feature, which meanders through the city and divides it into the Trans-Gomti and Cis-Gomti regions.

Historically, Lucknow was the capital of the Awadh region, controlled by the Delhi Sultanate and later the Mughal Empire and later transferred to the Nawabs of Awadh. In 1856, the British East India Company abolished local rule and took complete control of the city along with the rest of Awadh and, in 1857, transferred it to the British Raj.

Lucknow is the anglicised spelling of the local pronunciation Lakhnau. According to one legend, the city is named after Lakshman, the brother of Lord Rama from the Ramayana. The legend states that Lakshmana had a palace or an estate in the area, which was called Lakshmanapuri or Lakshmana’s city. The settlement came to be known as Lakhanpur or Lachhmanpur by the 11th century, and later, Lucknow. A similar theory states that the city was known as Lakshmanavati or fortunate after Lakshmana. The name changed to Lakhanavati, then Lakhnauti and finally Lakhnau. Yet another theory states that the city’s name is connected with Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth. Over time, the name changed to Laksmanauti, Laksmnaut, Lakhsnaut, Lakhsnau and, finally, Lakhnau.

Rumi Darwaza, the Mughal gateway built in the centre of the city divides Lucknow into Old Lucknow which is ancient, and more crowded, and the New Lucknow, which is urban and a planned city. Most of Old Lucknow is well-known for its bustling vibrant streets, authentic, mouth-watering kebab and biriyani outlets, lakhnavi chikan market, and the wholesale jewellery stores. New Lucknow, on the other hand, is structurally planned with wide roads, shopping malls and parks, with the most famous being the Ambedkar Park and the Gomti Riverfront Park.

One of the landmarks of the city, the Bara Imambara is known for its incredible maze, known as the Bhul Bhulaiya, located on the upper floor of the monument. It is said that there are 1024 ways to get inside the maze but only 2 to come out. The Imambra is also known as Asfi Imambara, after the name of the Nawab of Lucknow was instrumental in the construction. It is an important place of worship for muslims who come here every year to celebrate the religious festival of Muharram. Said to be the world’s largest structure that is unsupported by beams, Bara Imambara is considered a marvel of engineering and a fine specimen of Mughal architecture. The Imambara has a unique style of construction with no wood or metal used in its construction. In the centre hall is the grave of Nawab Asaf-Ud-Dowlah and his crown, said to be the largest vaulted chamber in the world. Built by the 4th nawab of Awadh, Nawab Asaf-Ud-Daula, construction for the mosque began in 1784 and took over 14 years to complete and was designed by the architect Hafiz Kifayat Ullah and Shahjahanabadi. During the 18th century, a devastating famine struck the Awadh kingdom. To provide work and food for his starving subjects, the nawab decided construct buildings which would provide them with employment, a food-for-work programme.

The architecture of the Bara Imambara is inspired from the Badshahi Mosque and is one of the last projects not incorporating the use of iron or any European elements. The central hall is said to be the largest arched hall in the world and the mosque has been constructed with no woodwork used in the entire structure, except the galleries. The blocks have been put together with the interlocking system of bricks, and the roof stands upright without any pillars to support it. The Imambara can be accessed through two large gateways, at one end of which lies the grand Asafi Mosque and on the other side is the large baori or well. Beyond the small entrance, to the left of the central hall, lies the intriguing labyrinth leading to the Bhul Bhulaiya which is the major attraction with a network of narrow passageways winding its way inside the upper floor of the monument’s structure, eventually leading to the rooftop. The views from the rooftop are is spectacular.

Visitors are expected to cover their heads and body before entering the Imambara and for those who need them, scarves are available at the main gate. Visitors also need to take off their shoes before entering the shrine and it is advised to carry a torch to explore the baori and the Bhul Bhulaiya. Locals also advise visitors to hire a guide to prevent getting lost in the maze. The Imambara is open from 6 am to 5 pm daily and entrance fees for Indians is INR 25 while foreigners need to pay INR 500, but this is inclusive of tickets to the Bara Imambara, Chota Imambara, Picture Gallery and the Shahi Hamam.

The Chhota Imambara, or the Imambara of Hussainabad, is a beautiful building in the old city west of Bara Imambara. Initially designed as a congregation hall for Shia Muslims built by Muhammad Ali Shah, the 3rd nawab of Awadh, in 1838, the Imambara was to serve as his own mausoleum as well as that of his mother, who is buried beside him. The Imambara consist of two halls and a Shehnasheen or a platform where the Zarih of Imam Husain is kept. The Zarih is the replica of that protective grill or structure which is kept on the grave of Imam Husain at Karbala, Iraq. The large green and white bordered hall of Azakhana is richly decorated with chandeliers and a good number of crystal glass lamp-stands. In fact, it was for this profuse decoration that the Imambara was referred by European visitors and writers as The Palace of Lights. A fusion of the Charbagh, Indo-Islamic and Persian architectural styles, the exterior has Quranic verses written in calligraphy on the walls and the interiors are designed with intricate details. With its baroque carvings and exquisite calligraphy, the Chota Imambara surpasses every other heritage structure in Lucknow. The interiors are decorated with delicate Arabic glass work and calligraphy, an ornately designed gilded golden dome, chandeliers specially brought from Belgium and colourful stuccos and gilt-edged mirrors. The five doorways of the Chhota Imambara emphasize the significance of the Panjetan or the holy five. It houses the tomb of Nawab Muhammad Ali Shah and other members of his family and is a smaller scale copy of the Taj Mahal. The Husainabad Mosque found inside the main monument is constructed on a raised platform with two grand minarets on the edge of the platform and decorated with floral designs and calligraphy. The watchtower, known as the Satkhanda is located just outside. Supposed to be seven storied, it only has four, since construction was abandoned when Ali Shah passed away. Non-Muslim visitors are not allowed inside the mosque located within the monument complex. The Chhota Imambara is open between 6 am and 5 pm and has an entrance fee of INR 25 for Indians and INR 300 for foreigners.

The Lucknow Residency was a residential complex which served as the headquarters for the British East India Company. But after the 1857 uprising, this became a refugee camp. The Residency is in ruins today with a British cemetery nearby that has the graves of those who died during the Lucknow siege and are protected by the Archaeological Survey of India. The Residency also hosts a light and sound show revisiting the 1857 revolt every evening. Built by Nawab Asaf-Ud-Daula in 1775, the British Residency was completed in 1800 by Nawab Saadat Ali Khan. After the revolt of 1857, the Residency was turned into the private residence of Oudh’s English commissioner. The Lucknow Residency has three levels which once housed a billiards room, offices and a library besides a basement. There is a huge cross at the entrance, in memory of Major General Sir John Inglis and his wife. Some of the highlights of the Residency include the Begum Kothi, the Mosque and the Canteen, which are all in ruins now. On one of the walls, there is a marble tablet with names of all soldiers who fought and died during the Indian revolt. The grounds of the residency also have an ancient banquet hall with some impressive carvings on its pillars and walls. Another section, known as the House of Dr Fayer used to be a hospital. The Lucknow Residency is open between 10 am and 5 pm and has an entrance fee of INR 5 per person.

From the 1800s and a remnant of colonial India, the Dilkusha Kothi was a former hunting lodge converted into a summer palace for royals. Initially, the residence of the English general, Major Gore Ouseley, this building was further revamped by Nawab Nasir-Ud-Din-Haider. The baroque-styled building was strongly impacted during the 1857 war of Indian Independence with the present structure a mere ruin with just a few towers and walls stnding today. Dilkudha Kothi is in the vicinity of a well-manicured garden, which makes it a good picnic spot. It is open between 8 am and 7 pm and has an entrance fee of INR 100 for foreigners and INR 5 for Indians.

An intricate fusion of Indian and Islamic architectural styles, the Shahi Baoli was formerly built as a reservoir and was constructed between 1784 and 1795 by Nawab Asif-Ud-Din Daula and designed by Kifayat-Ullah. Housing five storeys, the bottom three stories are regular storage spaces and the top two are occasional reserves. An ornate reservoir with some archways and exquisitely carved doorways, the Shahi Baoli is a sight to see. Open from 8 am to 8 pm, the entrance fee for Indians is INR 25 and that for foreigners, it is INR 300.

Chattar Manzil or popularly known as the Umbrella Palace was built by Nawab Ghazi Uddin Haider and later used by the ruler of Awadh and his wives. Located on the banks of the river Gomti, the building is a beautiful example of Nawabi and European architecture. Chattar Manzil has large underground rooms and a huge chhatri or umbrella adorning its dome on the octagonal towers. Formerly divided into the larger or bari umbrella dome and the smaller or chhoti one, Chattar Manzil has preserved the Bari Chattar Manzil, embellished in gold. The palace has five stories and houses two basement storeys and a terrace that initially had two telescopes during colonial times. First constructed in 1781 by Claude Martin, the French Major General of the time, it was then the location of the Central Drug Research Institute or CDRI. But after the CDRI moved out, there are talks to convert the structure into a museum. Chattar Manzil is open from 8 am to 6 pm and there are no entrance fees.

Built by Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, Safed Baradari is a white marbled palace originally constructed an Imambara or the Nawab’s Palace of Mourning. Located between the Butler Park and Gulab Vatika, Safed Baradari houses marble statues of the Anjuman founders Maharajas Man Singh and Balrampur’s Digvijay Singh. The Twelve Doored Palace has its main entrance on the eastern end which open up to octagonal pillars with stucco artworks and bright wall work. Initially called Qasr-ul-Aza, this structure later came to be used as a British petitionary court. After the siege of 1856, this was turned into a court for hearing petitions. It was then handed over to the Oudh Talaqdars in 1923 and renamed the British India Association of Oudh, which still holds this place. Today, it is used as a convention centre for weddings and other occasions.

Located in Qaiser Bagh, the Tomb of Saadat Ali Khan is a combined mausoleum of both Saadat Ali Khan and his wife Khursheed Zadi. Constructed by their son, this tomb is built in a fusion of Indian and Islamic architectural styles. With a central dome, the tomb gives way into a black and white interior housing the tombs. The tombs of Saadat Ali Khan and his other wives are found towards the southern end of the mausoleum. The mausoleum is in proximity to the famous Begum Hazrat Mahal Park and is open between 5 am and 8 pm every day.

Lucknow’s famous and iconic Rumi Darwaza is a striking gateway standing tall at sixty feet high and lies between the Bara Imambara and the Chota Imambara. The doorway is built in the ancient Awadhi style of architecture by Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula. It is also known as the Turkish Gate because it is modelled after the Sublime Porte or the Bab-i-Humayun door in Istabul, Turkey. Rumi refers to Rûm, the historical name used by the Islamic world to denote the region roughly corresponding to Anatolia, or the dominion of the former Eastern Roman Empire. Therefore, Rumi Darwaza in Hindi literally translates to Turkish Gate in English. Located in the heart of the old city, the gate is like a guardian angel that has seen the city rise and fall many times. The top of the Rumi Darwaza has a small octagonal place called a chhatri or umbrella which looks over both sides of the gate. A staircase leads up to it, which was either used as a sentry post or a place to light the gate with a big lantern at night, which is the more popular theory. The whole structure is decked with ornate patterns of flowers and leaves and other has four minarets at the four corners. It stretches out on both sides taking up almost the shape of a building rather than a gate.

Standing tall adjacent to the Rumi Darwaza, the Husainabad Clock Tower was built in 1881 and is the tallest clock tower in India. It is 67 meters high and displays a Victorian-Gothic style with a 14 feet long pendulum and a dial in the shape of a 12 petalled flower. It is said to have been established in memory of the arrival of Sir George Couper, the second Baronet. In 2010, the manually operated clock was upgraded to an electrical clock which struck for the first time in 27 years in end 2011. The four-faced clock is said to have been replicated based on the Big Ben and is surrounded by a local market. The clock tower is open between 11 am and 1 am daily.

Shaheed Smarak or the Martyrs’ Memorial is a white marbled pillar-like structure standing amidst the lush green lawns at Mukarimnagar, Qaiserbagh. Established in the memory of soldiers who lost their lives during the 1857 War of Independence, this pillar was built in the 1970s. There are also boating facilities in the nearby Gomti river and has stone stairs for seating within the premises. Open 24 hours a day, the best time however to visit is between 8 am and 4 pm.

Also known as the Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar Samajik Parivartan Prateek Sthal, the Ambedkar Memorial Park was built in the name of the architect of the constitution of India, Dr BR Ambedkar. This Park is also dedicated to many other freedom fighters including Jyotiba Phule, Birsa Munda, Kanshi Ram and Sree Narayana Guru. Founded in 1995, the park was renovated in 2002 and revamped in 20he 07 and a full-fledged public space only in 2008. The Ambedkar Park was soon renamed as Bhimrao Ambedkar Memorial in 2012. The red sandstone structure of the memorial houses the Ambedkar Stupa which is situated on a pedestal and is a massive bronze structure of Dr BR Ambedkar sitting on a chair and the base has an engraving which says “My struggle of life is my only message”. The stupa houses four opposite facing doorways with portraits of Dr Ambedkar inside. Spread across 2.5 acres, the museum has with two dome-like structures with each dome holding statues. The Pratibimb Sthal is a 107-acre expanse marking the entrance to the memorial and has sixty odd elephants parallel to each other as well as a huge central musical fountain towards the memorial’s entrance. The The gallery preserves various artefacts and documents relating to Dr Ambedkar about his life and his role in the freedom struggle. There are also several bronze-embellished wall work and other statues as well as a small souvenir shop selling books and other souvenirs. The Drashya Sthal is laid out on an 80 feet tall pyramidical structure with water flowing from its pinnacle. The park is open from 9 am to 7 pm

The Gautam Buddha Park is situated next to Hathi Park and was set up in 1980. A local favourite, the park has many swings and slides amongst lush green lawns and flowers. There is also a paddle boating available at a nominal price which is highly popular. The park is open from 7 am to 9 am and has an entrance fee of INR 5 and paddle boating costs are INR 10 with INR 25 per additional hour while the electric swing costs INR 10.

A very popular local park, Hathi Park has several swings and slides and recreational elephant structures which can be climbed upon. Open from 7 am to 8 pm daily, there is an entrance fee of INR 5 to get into the park.

Janeshwar Mishra Park is a newly constructed park, dedicated to the late Samajwadi Party politician, Janeshwar Mishra and was opened to the public in 2014. One of the biggest parks in Asia, the park has lush greenery dotted with floral gardens and also offers activities like boat rides and a children’s play area. There is an elaborate display of an MIG Aircraft and a few tanks at the park entrance as well as the Indian flag which is hoisted. The park is open from 5 am to 10 pm and has an entrance fee of INR 10.

Spread across 76 acres, the Dr Ram Manohar Lohiya Park is a popular park dedicated to the socialist leader and has four divisions of courtyards and separate entrances. Besides, it has green lawns sprinkled with seasonal flowers and shrubbery and is used for jogging and morning yoga classes. There is also a 100-meter acupressure walking and running track as well as a children’s play area. Alongside a fish and duck pond, the park also has a lake with a backdrop of Dr Lohiya’s statue. This lake also has four fountains spread across as well as an amphitheatre quite close to the clock tower. The park is open between 6 am and 10 pm and has an entrace fee of INR 5 while children below the age of 12 enter free.

Located in Qaiserbagh, the Begum Hazrat Mahal Park is a popular park which has swings and a children’s play area. The park houses a memorial structure of Begum Hazrat Mahal who played a vital role in the 1857 revolt. This marble building was initially commemorated at the Old Victoria Park of Hazratganj in 1962. The park also has a couple of fountains, a floral garden and stone walkways. The park is open from 8 am to 9 pm and has an entrance fee of INR 10.

Sikandar Bagh is an ancient styled mansion and a bracketing garden built in the 1800s and is known to be the last Mughal Garden in India. Built by Nawab Wajid Ali Khan, the last Nawab of Oudh, Sikandar Bagh became a Botanical Garden and home to the National Botanical Research Institute post-1947. The park also acted as a venue in the 1857 Battle of Independence and it was on the grounds of this garden that the ‘ugly blind hole’ was created on one of the brick walls. The collision was caused by the six open fires and 18 other guns. Housing over 2000 soldiers, Sikander Bagh was the site of the mass murder at the hands of the British Commander-in-Chief, Sir Colin Campbell. Sikandar Bagh is open from 9:30 am to 6 pm.

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Built by Nawab Saadat Ali Khan, the Moti Mahal Palace is popularly known as the Pearl Palace. Located on the banks of river Gomti, the palace is constructed next to Mubarak Manzil and Shah Manzil. A former residence of the Nawabs of Lucknow, Moti Mahal was initially a part of the Qaisar Bagh complex. Today, the surrounding gardens are used to hold conferences, parties and other such special occasions. Open from 11 am to 11 pm, entrance is free.

Firangi Mahal is a Mughal building built in the 11th century and between the 1550s and 1690s it was turned into an Islamic learning institution. The Alam Hafiz family is said to have been the first recorded resident of the place in 1559. It later became the residence of a French businessman, Mr Neil. The palace also played an important role during the Khilafat movement as it served as accommodation for important leaders of the movement.

Constructed between 1848-1850, under the rule of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah, Kaiserbagh Palace is an excellent example of Mughal architecture located when one goes from the eastern end of the Chattar Manzil towards the Tarawali Kothi. It houses a white-marbled central Baradari and is open from 8 am to 8 pm with no entrance fee.

The Shah Najaf Imambara is a dome-shaped 19th century congregration hall housing the graves of Nawab Ghazi-uddin Haider and his three wives. With splendid Mughal architecture amid a beautiful front floral yard, the Imambara is an all-white marble structure housing a large dome. Visitors must remove footwear and cover their heads while entering the mosque. Established in honour of the Caliph, Hazrat Ali, the Shah Najaf Imambara is believed to be a mirrored construction of the Iraqi tomb of Najaf-e-Ashraf. The mosque is open from 8 am to 5 pm.

The Jama Masjid was built by Nawab Mohammad Ali Shah Bahadur in 1423 on an elevated square platform to over shadow the grand Jama Masjid in Delhi. The Hindu-Jain fusion architecture imbibed with Islamic features boasts of a fancy decor with lime plaster, adorned with stucco motifs and has high arched ceilings and sturdy pillars. An active mosque today, non-muslims are not allowed inside. It is open from 5 am and 9 pm daily and photography fees are INR 300.

Situated in the Barabanki district, about 25 kms from Lucknow, Dewa or Dewa Sharif is a small town renowned for the shrine of Haji Waris Ali Shah with a mosque and a khankah within the premises. Born in the 19th century, Haji Waris Ali Shah belonged to the family of Hussaini Syeds with Waris Ali Shah the founder of the Warsi order of Sufism who undertook the pilgrimage to Mecca several times in his lifetime and welcomed followers of all faiths and religions into his commune. After his death, a tomb was set up, visited by devotees from all over the world. The Urs festival at Dewa Sharif is a huge annual affair with celebrations over 10 days in the month of October-November when the shrine is decorated in tinsel and fairy lights. A grand procession is carried out and the entertainment includes an all-India Mushaira or poetry competition and music performances. There is also an elaborate display of fireworks. Unique to the Dewa Shareef shrine is that it celebrates the Hindu festival of Holi with great pomp and show with people playing and colouring each other. The best time to visit the shrine is on a full moon day.

The Chandrika Devi Temple is dedicated to Goddess Chandi. Adorning three heads, Chandrika Devi is a said to be a combined manifestation of the Goddesses Kali, Lakshmi and Saraswati. There is also a pond in the premises that has a huge seated statue of Lord Shiva. Said to be a 12-century shrine, the Chandrika Devi Temple is believed to have been part of the era of the Ramayana. Hindu mythology has it that Goddess Chandi once safeguarded Prince Chandraketu, the older brother of Lord Lakshmana. As he was riding alongside river Gomti with his horse, Ashhwamegh, he decided to halt for the night as it got quite dark. It was then that he prayed to Chandrika Devi to protect him through the night who delivered security through a flood of moonlight. Devotees later constructed a shrine at the same place.

The 1000-year olf Mankameshwar Mandir is situated on the banks of river Yamuna at Saraswati Ghat in Lucknow. A revered Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva this temple is the first to have had a woman priest. Mondays are considered special and hence the busiest. According to myth, the site of the present Mankameshwar Mandir was a holy site visited by Lord Lakshman after leaving Goddess Sita in exile and is the same place that King Navdhanu constructed this temple many years later. The temple was completely ruined during the 1100s by conquerors from Yemen and reconstructed about five centuries ago by the Naga monks. The temple is open between 5 am and 12 noon and then again between 4 to 9 pm.

A monastery dedicated to Sri Ramakrishna Praramahamsa, the Ramakrishna Math has a shrine adjacent to the institute. Built completely of marble, the Math also holds various idols of Ramakrishna, Mother Sarada Devi and Swami Vivekananda. The first Math was established in 1925 with the present temple the new version constructed close to the older site. Established in 1987, the white structure of the new monastery is a combination of Hindu and Islamic architectural features. It also represents adapted designs from the Indian dynasties of the time. In addition to the red-cemented significant relics from Hindu mythology, the current temple of the Ramakrishna Math hosts an elegant marble-finished entryway. Numerous mythical creatures and characters in stone adorn the parallels of the entrance. The sanctum sanctorum of the temple, roofed with nine white domes is secured with an ornately carved gate. However, this part of the temple emits a Rajasthani aura of architecture alongside the typical Mughal style. The prayer hall here hones an elaborately decorated white and brown floor, while siting a splendid chandelier with over 250 lights. The math is open from 8:30 am to 12 noon and then between 4:30 to 7:30 pm.

Named after the Marine Drive in Mumbai, Lucknow’s Marine Drive is a picturesque strip of road adjacent to the River Gomti popular among the young as a hangout place. With benches to sit and relax, it is used a jogging and cycling track.

A colonial landmark the Constantia or La Martiniere School was built in 1845 and houses the tomb of Claude Martin, the French Major-General at the time. The European styled building also has a library, a chapel and a well-preserved and beautiful lobby room. Having separate schools for boys and girls, it is said that the 1857 batch is said to have played an important part in the revolt. With architectural highlights such as carved arches and decorated balconies, this heritage building continues to be one of the top educational institutes in town.

Situated on the banks of the River Gomti, the Indira Gandhi Planetarium is popularly known as the Taramandal Show. The highlights of the planetarium are the science and astronomy shows and 3D models and exhibitions. One can also see models of various Indian satellites and read about about renowned Indian scientists as well as take a virtual trip to space through the 3D space shows. Designed and modelled in the shape of Saturn with five rings around its central body, the building boasts of striking architecture signifying the solar system. A water pool surrounds the building. The planetarium is open from 11 am until 5 pm and has shows at 1 pm, 2:30 pm, 4 pm and 5 pm with an extra show at 6 pm during the summer holidays. On weekends, the first show is in English while the rest are in Hindi. Bookings for the shows can be done between 11 am and 5 pm. Entrance fees for adults is INR 25 and there is no entry fee for children below the age of three. The planetarium is closed on Mondays

Located in Qaiserbagh, the 1857 Memorial Museum is dedicated to the First War of Independence of 1857. Containing relics and antiques, the museum also has visual displays of the war. It also has many photographs, maps, manuscripts and paintings depicting the struggle. There is also an antique collection of war swords, rifles, shields, terracotta items, crockery, canons, medals and even badges from the 1800s. Constructed by the British in 1774, the Lucknow Residency was completed by Nawab Sadat Ali Khan in 1800, but was massively damaged during the 1857 war. Today, the Archaeological Survey of India manages the museum and have organised tours. The museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm and Indian visitors need to pay INR 15 while foreign visitors will pay INR 200.

The Nawab Wajid Ali Shah Zoological Garden, popularly known as the Lucknow Zoo was originally known as The Prince of Wales Zoological Gardens and is home to mammals, birds and reptiles, the most famous ones being the royal Bengal tiger, white Bengal tiger, Himalayan black bear and Asiatic lion. Established in 1921 by Nawab Nasiruddin Haider, this 71.6-acre zoo was established to celebrate the visit of the Prince of Wales to Lucknow. The zoo has a toy train which rides through the zoo. The Uttar Pradesh State Museum is an interesting attraction within the zoo displays Awadh artefacts like sculpture, bronzes, paintings, natural history & anthropological specimens, coins, textiles and decorative arts, along with excavations related to the life of Lord Buddha. There is also an Egyptian mummy and wooden sarcophagus, an inscribed wine jar bearing the name of Aurangzeb Alamgir, a jade Chamakali with the name Jahangir and the date 1036 AD, a 16th-century painting of a scene from the Kalpasutra. A replica from colonial times, a vintage train abandoned in the Laxmipur forest in 1924 is also displayed. Inaugurated in 2018, the Butterfly Park is relatively a newer addition to the zoo. With over 28 species alongside a beautiful park, this park also offers educational information about these colourful creatures. However, the butterfly park would need an extra entry fee. The Nature Interpretation Centre houses informative pieces from the animal mapping system to well-preserved ostrich, emu and macaw eggs. There are also preserved pugmarks of different rare and endangered animals including different tiger species. The Lucknow Zoo is the only one of the only two zoos in India to exhibit an orangutan, with the other being the Kanpur Zoo. Entry tickets for those above 12 are INR 60 and INR 54, if purchased online, which includes an entry ticket as well as tickets to the Aquarium House, Nocturnal House and Nature Interpretation Centre. For a package which includes a train ride and a battery operated vehicle, it is INR 100 or INR 90 if purchased online. For those between 5 and 12, the first entry fee is INR 30 or 27 if purchased online and INR 50 or INR $5 if purchased online for the second option. Entry for those below 5 is free. A video camera of INR 50 and a morning walk pass of INR 100 for a monthly or INR 500 for a yearly option is also available. The Zoo is open between 8:30 to 5:30 pm between February and April, between 8 am to 6 pm between May and July, between 8:30 to 5:30 pm in August, September and October and from 8:30 am to 5 pm between November to January. The zoo is closed on Mondays.

Also known as Shahid Chandra Shekhar Azad Bird Sanctuary, the Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary is located in Unnao near Lucknow. Surrounded by dense forests, this bird sanctuary is home to over 250 species birds and is also a great place to spot other wildlife. The sanctuary also houses a deer park and has an interpretation centre. The sanctuary can be visited around the year; however, the best time is between October to March as there are several species of birds who migrate from colder regions and settle at the bird sanctuary. There are two walking trails that take you through the sanctuary amidst the forest cover and lush greenery. There is a pond in the complex perfect for leisurely strolls or just enjoying some quiet time. The sanctuary is open between 9 am to 5 pm and has an entry fee of INR 30 for Indians and INR 350 for foreigners. There is also a camera fee of INR 500.

In the next part, we will explore some of the most ancient cities in the world as well as some of the holiest.

1 thought on “Travel Bucket List: India – Uttar Pradesh Part 5

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