Oman and the Indian sub-continent have a history together spanning several centuries; from the earliest recordings of trade from Mysore in 1750, to the early education of his royal highness Sultan Qaboos bin Said in Pune, the two countries have always have and will be bound in friendship.
For these reasons we take a gander at our travel routes to India starting with the City of Nawabs: Lucknow! This is a city rich and varied in history, culture, wildlife and of course food!!
It’s hard to pick where to begin when exploring the city but for those who love history and architecture I’d recommend starting with the Bara Imambara a marvel of Mughal architecture. This structure is best known for its ‘Bhool Bhulaiya’ a labyrinth of hundreds of narrow staircases, passages and corridors which were built to trap assassins. It’s easy to get lost in there so be sure to take a guide with you!Next on the list of historical sites to visit is the ‘Rumi Darwaza’ also known as the Turkish gateway. Students of architecture will instantly fall in love with the awadh styling of the arch with its intricately carved flower buds and water jets designed to look like a gateway to paradise.
The next stop on your cultural tour should be the fabled ‘Hussainabad Picture Gallery, featuring the artworks of some of the greatest Indian artists of the 18th century. One of the most amazing feature that you will notice is that that the shoes, heads, eyes of the picture seem to move with you no matter which direction you travel in from, right to left or left to right.
These are just few of the many historical and architectural wonders to see but for the sake of space let’s move on to something for the little ones. This is the city of kites so be sure to visit during the ‘Jamghat’ festival (November 4th) when the sky will be dotted with hundreds of colourful kites, a delight for the young and old at heart alike!
With a nature tour in mind one of the first stop should be the Lucknow zoo, which houses over 400 types of mammals such as elephants, black bucks, giant squirrels, Bengal tigers, white tigers, wolves etc and around 97 different species of birds. It’s an easy way for children to spend an entire day especially if you visit them on the touch table program on Friday where they can see for themselves the skins and eggs of various species of animals from around the word.Also be sure to let them ride the toy train there which allows them a tour of the zoo via a 1960’s era train setup.
Next on your nature trip, you have a choice of the Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary, the Kukrail Forest Reserve or the famous Parijaat Tree. To start with the Nawabganj Bird Sanctuary is a photographer’s paradise.In the months of November to March one can easily capture many migratory birds which travel to India from as far as Europe and Siberia apart from the local avian community who themselves are delight to capture via camera. The Kukrail Forest Reserve is a deer farm and crocodile nursery to see baby crocodiles as well as variety of deer such as the rare back buck, the common spotted deer
When Lucknow is in the conversation, food has to be mentioned. With the city keeping the legacy of the Mughal royal chefs intact, one can easily dive into an unlimited variety of kebabs (veg and non-veg) tandoors, naans (breads), curries and of course biryanis which most claim is a purely Lucknowi creation!! So when taking a culinary tour, be sure to start your day with an empty belly and lots of loose clothing!!
Last on our places to visit is the famous Lucknow Chowk, one of the city’s oldest markets and a treasure house of culture and history. It was recently established as a centre of handicrafts where all sorts of items made from bone, ivory, gold, leather and chikan garments (embroidery) are bought and sold by shops styled in the nawabi glamor of old. The chowk is also the centre of nawabi cuisine so one can easily combine the culinary tour with the shopping spree.
So next time you visit the Indian subcontinent be sure to visit this colourful city, and let us know how it went!