Lucknow is a city synonymous with the Nawabi Culture and is known for its adab and Tahzeeb, Lucknow is also associated with its legendary hospitality, leisurely moods of life, fabled edifices steeped in history, world-renowned cuisine and exquisite Sham-e-Awadh. Tremors of time have not effaced Lucknow of its cultural heritage and traditions.
As the legends run, the city of Lucknow was founded by Laxman, the younger brother of Lord Rama and accordingly named Lakshmanpuri which through passage of time became Lakhanpur and finally Lucknow. According to historians it was occupied by Mahmud Ghazni and later by Humayun in 1526. During the reign of Akbar, Sheikh Abdul Rahim managed to have him appointed as Jagirdar of Lakhanpur and its adjoining areas. The territory flourished during his and his ancestor's regime, Sheikh Abdul Rahim built the historic Machhi Bhawan and five palaces for himself and his wives. These buildings of architectural beauty became extinct during the first war of independence of India and on these ruins today stands the Chhatrapati Shahuji Mahara_j Medical University (upgraded King George's Medical College.)
In 1722 the Persian adventurer Saadat Khan was appointed as Governor of Oudh. He met the resentment of the Sheikh Zadas. The Descendant of Sheikh Abdul Rahim. However, with the help of a superbly trained army Saadat khan captured Macchi Bhawan and was succeeded by the line of rulers known as the Nawabs of Oudh. The royal emblem of fish was conferred on him by the Mughal Emperor, which has now become the official seal of U.P. State Government. Under the Nawab during eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Lucknow flourished and acquired the glory, which permeates its surroundings and environments even today. However, the credit of building most of old Lucknow to its magnificent heights goes to the fourth Nawab Asaf-Ud-Daula (1775-1797). During this period Nawab Asaf-Ud-Daula broke away from the declining Mughals in Delhi.
Lucknow has ever since been a musically fertile soil and there is no aspect of Hindustani music which was not enriched and nurtured here. Some of the greatest exponents of the Khayal and Maestros of Sitar. Vaena, Sarangi, Pakhawaj and Tabla lived here and enriched their respective arts. It is a matter of great pride that internationally renowned Birju Maharaj, Shambhoo Maharaj and Lachho Maharaj the great exponents of Kathak dance, belong to this city. The age old arts and crafts of Lucknow embrace a wide variety of items such as chikan work, khas curtains, clay toys, embroidery Meena, zari, kundan jewellery, kifes, fabulous tazias and renowned perfumes. Chikan work of Lucknow is in great demand all over the world. Most of these crafts are in the hands of old families who need all incenti,es from the authorities. With the impact of modern culture these crafts have struggled to coexist and thereby have kept intact the characteristics of old Lucknow. It will be worth mentioning about the most renowned and popular variety of mangoes called Dussehri and Safeda of this city. These mangoes are being exported all over India and abroad. Muskmelons and 'Kakris' of Lucknow are also popular.
It was built by Nawab Asaf-Ud-Danlain 1784 to provide work to famine stricken population round the clock. It has a huge vaulted room, one of the largest roofed structures standing without the support of beams or pillars. An added attraction to the Imambara is its labyrinth (Bhool bhulayiya), the acoustics of which are interesting.
It gives admission of the outer ward of the great Imambara and its most-expressive example of Oudh architecture.
To the north of the Imambara stands this mosque on the top of a mount known as Lakshmantila. It was built during the reign of Aurangzeb. It has outstanding symmetry.
A little distant from great Imambara lies the Jama Masjid.
A short distance away to the west of Roomi Darwaza,'set before a raised tank, amidst well laid out gardens and flanked by two replicas of the Taj Mahal stands the Hussainabad Imambara. It was built by Mohammad Ali Shah as a mausoleum for himself.
This is the most striking historical site representing India's struggle for freedom. It was the center of the Siege in 1857. It was built by Asaf-Ud-Daula during 1780-1800 but served as the abode of the B r i t i s h Resident. This has now b e c o m e dilapidated due to heavy artillery fire. However, some of the portions of solid masonry along with rooms and giant tower still survive.
This was built by Ghazi-Ud-Din Haider. It gets name from the gilt umbrella over its dome. Today it houses the Central Drug Research Institute.
Other places of importance are Lal Baradari, La Martiniere College, Clock tower, Picture gallery and Dilkusha Palace. Besides these there are several gardens and parks. Some of the most beautiful parks have been recently developed by the Lucknow Development Authority. Buddha park, Ambedkar Udyan, Neebu Park and Hathi Park are some of them. It is on account of these parks that Lucknow is also known as the "City of Gardens".
Some of the places of interest which grew up during post Nawab period are Council House, Charbagh Railway Station, General Post Office, Kukarail Picnic Spot. National Botanical Garden, Zoological Garden and Museum.