Lucknow is no ordinary city. It is an experience that delights the senses and surprises the intellect.
As the capital of the most populous country subdivision of its size (Avadh) on the planet for over two centuries, the city had evolved a thriving cosmopolitan culture long before the term came into use and it remains today the political crucible of India.
Lucknow has amongst the highest urban concentrations of heritage monuments in the country.
Strewn liberally across the city are royal palaces, British and French colonial mansions, Nawabi mausoleums, intricate baradaris, ancient archways, heritage kothis, hunting lodges, pleasure gardens and medieval markets. A vast historical legacy hiding effortlessly and in plain sight, behind the modern chaos.
Through a series of short exploratory narratives, we dive beneath the clichés of language and mannerisms to discover the architectural and cultural framework of an older city, a witness to Avadh’s glory days and its own fatal relationship with the British. A record of pivotal events that shaped modern History and in particular the great rebellion of 1857.
Avant garde artists, poets, intellectuals and culinary traditions have always found fertile ground at this epicentre of culture.
Built into the deep dive experiences are close informal interactions with the master craft-artisans, historical narrators and other informed ‘old hands’ of the city, along with curated sessions on Hindustani classical music appreciation, the art of Dastangoi (storytelling) and the fabulous local cuisine.
Best time to visit: October -March.
Duration: 3 hours to 3 days
This experience is for: Solo travelers, small groups, families & students.
Deep Dive Exploratory Narratives through centuries of history. Fully customisable in content and duration. Take in the public sights on a walking tour or enjoy a private audience with an accomplished artist or artisan. Keep to the thoroughfares or dive into the narrow bylanes. Either way, intense immersive experiences blending history, food, music, architecture and art.
The British and the city of Lucknow.
Long before the great uprising of 1857, the colonial powers were waging war all over south Asia (partly funded by the Nawab’s treasuries). The cornerstone of the British expansion in the sub-continent was their alliance with Oudh. The story of this evolving relationship can be clearly glimpsed through the changing architecture and related developments spanning a century.
The revolt of 1857 was an era defining conflict, with impacts felt far beyond the limited theatre of war. Many historians consider Lucknow as the true epicentre of the war and hold the ‘stealing of Avadh’ as its primary cause. (triggered by the greased cartridges).
When seen through the perspective of this conflict, the entire city turns into a war zone. Bullet marked ruins under siege for months, abandoned palaces under constant bombardment, streets that were scenes of fierce hand to hand fighting, gardens defended to the last man.
A two hundred years old Cosmopolitan culture.
Over the century that followed its founding as the capital of ‘Oudh’ in 1775, Lucknow was the international meeting point of world civilizations. Under the urbane rule of the Nawabs, it evolved one of the earliest cosmopolitan cultures in India. The influences of this mixing became manifest in the city’s arts, cuisine, mannerisms, music & architecture and created a secular and liberal attitude which remains an integral part of Lucknow’s identity today.
Monumental heritage preserving a surprisingly vast history: Preserved in the city’s building architecture is a remarkable story of Lucknow’s extraordinary journey. Archeological excavations sites confirm its pre-historic antiquity. We find thriving Medieval era markets and surviving Mughal era mosques and tombs, dwarfed by the scale of Asaf-ud Daula’s Imambara. The Palatial houses and cock fighting pits designed by Frenchman Claude Martin bear witness to the extravagance of the city’s cultural high tide. The increasing British influence is evident in the changing styles and diminishing extravagance of its later buildings and the layout of the city roads still read out loud the severity of British response in the aftermath of the war.