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We boarded our train from Varanasi (Amritsar Express) at 9:00 am. We didn’t leave empty handed from the city of Varanasi since my mother bought a saree and two Benarasi dupattas. We had our Breakfast and Lunch in the train. After almost seven hours of train journey, we reached Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh. From the Railway Station, we took an Uber and reached our hotel, called the Shivam Inn, situated in Gomtinagar. The city was extremely clean with trees everywhere. I have never seen such a clean city previously and it felt like someone must have been polishing the roads everyday. We checked-in at our hotel and freshened up. We didn’t go out anywhere that day and took the feel of the refreshing hotel room. The furnitures were made of maple wood and there was a refrigerator in every room. We ordered tea and Paneer Pakodas and munched on them happily while gossiping. At night we had a delicious and extravagant dinner comprising of Mutton Biriyani, Chicken Butter Masala, Tandoori Roti and Salad. After having eaten to contentment, I went back to my room and fell asleep.

The next morning, we visited Bara Imambara. It is a Shia Muslim Shrine and was built by Asaf Ud Daulah, the Nawab of Awadh in 1784. It is one of the most magnificent of the historical monuments in the city. The structure of the Monument shows the mixture of both the Rajput and Mughal architectures. The central hall of the Imambara is almost 50 metres in length and 16 metres wide according to our tour guide. The hall is beautifully decorated with colourful chandeliers from different places of the world. The roof of the hall has been put together with interlocking bricks without using a beam or girder. The tomb of Nawab Asaf Ud Daulah is present in the central hall. There are total three huge halls in the monument and an amazing maze of corridors known as “Bhul Bhulaiya”. It is a network of more than thousand labyrinthine passages, some of which have dead ends. One will find it very difficult to get out of the Bhul Bhulaiya without taking the help of the tour guides. We also saw a secret and dark passage there and the tour guide told us that it leads to Faizabad and Agra. After wandering in the Bhul Bhulaiya, we went to see the “Shahi Baoli”, situated right next to the Bara Imambara. The remarkable feature of this structure is that you can spot the visitors at the entrance from inside through a reflection in a puddle of water (also known as Step Well) but the visitors can’t see the people who are present inside. The Nawab used to detect potential intruders and baffle his enemies with the help of this technique. Nobody is allowed to enter inside the Baoli and Bara Imambara after 5:30 pm.

After witnessing the Baoli we went to the Art Gallery. We saw many illusional paintings that have been preserved there. Then we went to the British Residency. It is a preserved artifact of the 1857 – Struggle for the Indian Independence. The cannon marks on the walls and bullet holes act as a reminder of the war that shook the city along with the whole country.

We also visited the Residency Museum. One of my mother’s friend, Ashima aunty came to meet us in the Residency. My mother was delighted to see her friend after ten years. Her husband joined us as well. We all went together to a very famous restaurant named “Dastarkhwan” for having lunch. We had Galouti Kebab, Tandoori Roti, , Bhuna Mutton and Ban Gosht. Galouti Kebab is made of minced mutton and is a very famous Awadhi dish that melts in mouth within seconds. It is said that this dish was made for a Nawab who lost most of his teeth during his old age. But he didn’t give up on his habit of  eating Kebabs . As he couldn’t chew, his cook made this fantastic melt-in-the-mouth delicacy. Ban Gosht is also known as Bhuna Gosht and is made of mutton and lots of different spices. The taste of all the dishes were marvellous, the smell was so divine and mouth watering. I wondered what am I gonna cook it, once I had returned to Kolkata. We ate “Shahi Tukda” as dessert. It is a sweet-dish made up of mainly bread and saffron infused milk and garnished with dry fruits like almonds and raisins. After having the gala lunch, we came back to our hotel. On our way back to hotel, we had some tea from Sharma Tea Stall. It was so refreshing that it vanished our tiredness within minutes. We had Handi Gosht and Fried Rice in dinner.

The next day we spent the entire morning lazily chilling, gossiping and munching on yummy food. In the evening, we headed out to explore the shopping scene at the local markets in the city. We went to the Bhootnath Market in Indiranagar to buy some Lucknow Chikan clothes. I bought a Lucknow Chikan Kurti and a beautiful dupatta for myself while my mother bought two sarees for herself. We came back to our hotel and made our dinner made up of Murgh Kolha Pori, Murgh Nizami Tikka, Murgh Kalimirch Tikka, Mutton Seekh Kebab and Pea Pulao, dissappear in a matter of time.

In the morning we woke up, took a shower, dressed ourselves up and went to Alamgir Restaurant. My mother’s friend and her husband also joined us for the lunch. We ate Kaleji, Lucknow Special Mutton Dum Biriyani, Tandoori Roti and Salad. Kaleji is a spicy dish made of Mutton livers and is very delicious. I loved it. The Biriyani was mouth watering once you have had it for once. I wish I could get this Biriyani in Kolkata.

After devouring on the delicious meal, we visited the Army Cantonment. We saw the Army Public School, Central Command Canteen, Officers’ Mess, Army headquarters, the hospital for army men, and many other buildings made for the military people from outside as nobody except the army men are allowed inside. Then we went to Sahara Mall. On our way towards Sahara Mall, we saw the Lucknow University and the Lucknow High Court. We spent a quality time in the Sahara Mall. Ashima aunty bought me a beautiful dress from there. We ate ice cream.  On our way back to the hotel, we stopped at the Keventers to buy milkshakes. I am a huge fan of Milkshakes of Keventers. After coming back to our hotel room, we packed our bags, talked about all the funny things that happened in this trip, ate up our dinner and went to sleep.

The next morning we boarded our train from Lucknow railway station. I don’t know how and why but I felt attached towards the city. The unique mixture of old Mughal architecture and modernity of today’s generation is something one can get to see side-by-side in this city. Every place in the city has a story of its own. No-one wanted the tour to end. Unfortunately we had no other option. All alike, we didn’t want to bid the city, a ‘goodbye’.

We reached Howrah the very next day in the morning. We were all sad since we knew that from the next day onwards we will get back to our busy lifestyle once again and having a minute for our own self would seem to be too difficult. We all will be going to miss the funny gossips, the elaborate buffet breakfast of the hotel, the finger licking dishes and the jaw dropping scenarios while mentally returning to our regular lives until we will plan the next trip.

After all, Travelling is like an addiction and one can never have enough of it. India has a lot to explore and I’m sure that four of us travellers, would come up with the details of our next trip, sooner than you would expect.

Till then, thanks for your time.

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