There are a lot of great places to visit in Lucknow.
Have you ever even heard of Lucknow? The city is often drowned out by other Indian hotspots like Kerala, Goa, and Jaipur, but I promise you it’s got plenty to see and is well worth a look around for a day (I’d suggest 2 to 3). It’s the capital city of the state of Uttar Pradesh in India and it’s full of fascinating history, colourful bazaars and great food.
The architecture is what really gets people talking though, and you don’t have to be an architect or designer to appreciate just how incredible the city’s buildings are, and the history behind them.
If time is tight, or you just don’t fancy spending all your time going from sight to sight, here are 7 amazing tourist places in Lucknow for you to check out. I saw them all in a day (although it was a bit of a rush).
Coolest Places to See in Lucknow
1. Bara Imambara
The Mughal Empire is responsible for many of the beautiful buildings in Lucknow but Bara Imambara, built in 1784, is probably the most famous. An imambara is a place of congregation for Shia Muslims and this one is a part of a bigger complex of courtyards, and corridors that you can explore. In fact, its main arched hall is thought to be the biggest in the world.
What’s really exciting about this place though, is the Bhulbhulaiya maze on its upper floors and the legends about the treasure hidden here. Pretty sure you won’t find any actual treasure, you can still count yourself a winner if you manage to navigate the 489 identical doorways and make it to the panoramic views at the top.
A 500 rupee ticket will get you inside and wave you right into Chota Imambara and the Hussainabad Picture Gallery as well. Great value for your Lucknow sightseeing.
Visas for India
Do not forget to get your Indian visa!
Stupidly I didn’t realise you had to get your visa in advance and I thought you could do it on arrival. This led to me being turned away at Heathrow Airport and not being allowed to get on my flight.
I had a stressful 24 hours of trying to get a rush visa and not knowing whether I would make my trip to the Kumbh Mela or not. I did, but had to spend quite a bit of money.
Moral of the story is to make sure you get your India visa well in advance!
2. Jama Masjid
You may think you’ve seen mosques before but not like this one. Jama Masjid is one of the most impressive places to see in Lucknow and was built in 1423 by Sultan Ahmed Shah. In fact, it’s thought to be one of the most beautiful mosques in all of India.
It’s made of yellow sandstone, 260 pillars and 15 arched domes as well as intricate carvings and a huge courtyard. It’s so beautiful, the sultan himself chose to be laid to rest here and you can visit his tomb inside for free.
There’s definitely a theme in Lucknow – design a nice building then become a permanent resident a little further down the line. Interesting.
Map of Lucknow’s best places to visit
3. Chota Imambara
A tomb might sound a little eerie but this one is anything but. Just 1.5 kilometres west of Bara Imambara, Chota Imambara was built in 1838 and is another big monument set to have you snapping. Definitely one of the most impressive places to visit in Lucknow.
Originally designed as a gathering place for muslims, it’s now a mausoleum to its creator, and a former king, Muhammad Ali Shah, and his mother.
You can see why you’d want to be laid to rest here. White and black, the building is covered in Islamic calligraphy and tiny archways, filled with glass lamps and chandeliers – it’s topped off with a huge dome making it more fancy than frightening. Adding to the fancy vibe is Mohammed’s silver throne and red crown you can see inside.
4. Husainabad Clock Tower
If anyone is feeling homesick for the UK, this is the place to go. This Lucknow tourist spot is said to be a replica of Big Ben. The story goes that this impressive 221 foot, red-brick tower was built as a welcome gift from one Nawab Nasir-ud-din to Sir George Couper, the first Lieutenant Governor of United Province of Avadh.
Unfortunately, Couper died before it was finished and so construction took a little break, but it was finally finished in 1887. And the clock still works. While you can’t go up the tower, it’s a great place to sit, people watch and take some photos.
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5. The Residency
Back in 1857 things weren’t going so well for the British Raj. India had had enough and people in Lucknow began to attack the British so over 3,000 civilians and soldiers sought refuge inside The British Residency. And so began a 6 month siege.
Eventually civilians were rescued but not before there was a whole load of blood shed. The Residency has been left exactly as it was and you can visit the bullet-ridden ruins, gardens and graves for 100 rupees.
The adjoining museum will also tell you all you need to know about this event and the beginning of the end of British rule.
When we went there were people praying on the roof and the melodic chanting was magical.
6. Mushir Zadi Mosque
Another one for the architecture fans, and one of the most historical places in Lucknow is the Mushir Zadi Mosque. This mosque is made up of four octagonal dome-shaped towers, a parapet, a miniature dome, turrets and extremely detailed designs – making it another of the city’s most beautiful spots.
It was designed by the King Ghazi-ud-din Haider himself as a resting place for his mother (told you there was a theme). Top son award for the king. While the underground tombs themselves are off limits, you can visit inside the mosque for free and marvel at the designs inside.
7. Rumi Gate
Who’d have thought a gate could be so interesting?
Well, at over 60 feet tall it’s already fairly impressive but the genesis behind it is even more so. Dividing the distance between Bara Imambara and Chota Imambara, the gate was built in 1784 as part of a program run by the man in charge, Nawab Asaf-ud-daula, to give people employment so that they might survive the famine.
The gate is covered in carvings, has a tower at the top and lights up at night. Nicknamed the Turkish Gateway, you can see one just like it in Istanbul too.
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