There is a delicious sense of languor that fills you when you alight at the mint new, international Choudhry Charan Singh Airport, or chug in at the quaint Charbagh Railway station: Lucknow spells sheer calm, sometimes splendour, and always an all-pervasive lull in its Mughal architecture, lip-curling Awadhi kebabs and biryani, near-ethereal chikankari and more. Slow travel at its best.
From the airport, it is best and safest to avail of the pre-paid air conditioned taxi option to get to your destination. The wide, beautifully-maintained roads via the cantonment are a brilliant choice as opposed to the traffic-crammed Charbagh station route leading into the city. Once inside the main city, bank on the locally and easily available rickshaws with their pullers yanking you aboard and away on trundling wheels. It’s quite a joyride as you hold on to your sliding rear on the smooth, shiny seats while the rickshaw-puller skates around the crossroads and screeches to a crisp halt at your destination. Travel adventurously! Wing into the city between October and February. You can enjoy the chill in the air and do full justice to the rich food.
During summer, the temperature pegs itself around an average of 42 degree celsius to sap you, so you need to stay well-hydrated.
Lay of the land
Lucknow spins magic through an endearing combination of the old and the new. Hazratganj forms the heartbeat of the city. Lined with New York-style lamp posts, the central strip boasts of a spic and span, black and white facade along the old, magnificent arches which are hundreds of years old. Everything is located here: from bookshops to chikankari studios to the Apple store to salons, street food stops, coffee shops and cinemas.
Travel to Chowk – it is called old Lucknow. Replete with beautiful domes and arches, several monuments, thousands of chikankari workshops and colleges, this is the relatively conservative part of the city. Best explored on foot or on rickshaws as the narrow lanes prevent tashreef
(arrival) by car. Gomtinagar is the newly developed section. You can navigate the smooth, broad roads easily without experiencing a traffic crunch. Zip across Lohia Path across the Gomti river and check out the malls, multiplexes and more.
Shilpi Madan for Sunday Herald