What to see, do, and eat over two days in Luc­know, In­dia.

Eas­ily reached from Delhi or—thanks to a brand-new ex­press­way—Agra, the state cap­i­tal of Ut­tar Pradesh beck­ons with its rich cul­ture and history, bustling bazaars, and se­ri­ously in­dul­gent food. Here’s how to ex­pe­ri­ence the best of In­dia’s City of Nawabs i

DestinAsian - - DEPARTMENTS - BY MALAVIKA BHAT­TACHARYA

DAY ONE

Morn­ing: Awake at the Re­nais­sance Luc­know Ho­tel ( 91-522/405-5555; mar­riott.com; dou­bles

from US$165) in the posh Gomti Na­gar area and get your bear­ings over break­fast at the 14th-floor L-14 restau­rant, where the views fol­low the west­ward course of the Gomti River to­ward Hazrat­ganj and the older parts of the city be­yond. That’s the di­rec­tion you’ll want to head to visit the ru­ins of the Res­i­dency, once the seat of Bri­tish colo­nial rule over the sur­round­ing Awadh re­gion. Be­sieged for six months dur­ing the Se­poy Mutiny (re­mem­bered lo­cally as In­dia’s first War of In­de­pen­dence) of 1857, the com­pound’s sur­viv­ing build­ings, roof­less and bat­tle-scarred, now serve as a me­mo­rial to those times, with an on-site mu­seum that doc­u­ments both the up­ris­ing and the flam­boy­ant Nawabs who once ruled here. After­noon: One of Luc­know’s most beloved

dishes, ga­louti ke­bab is best en­joyed at Tun­day Kababi ( tun­dayk­ababipvtltd.com), a cen­tury-old in­sti­tu­tion with out­lets in the mar­ket ar­eas of Aminabad and Chowk (opt for the for­mer, which is both cleaner and eas­ier to find). Leg­end has it that these silken roundels of minced beef or mut­ton were orig­i­nally cre­ated for a tooth­less Nawab; they cer­tainly melt in your mouth.

Next, head into the hurly-burly of Chowk. Start­ing from the Gol Dar­waza (“Round Gate”), nav­i­gate the web of al­leys and cav­ernous shops that show­case hand­crafted sil­ver jew­elry, bronze pot­tery, hand­i­crafts, and tex­tiles. Fra­grant it­tar oils are sold at tra­di­tional per­fumeries such as Moid Ali & Sons, while del­i­cately hand-em­broi­dered chikan fab­ric can be picked up at Seva Chikan ( 91/904-405-6507;

se­vachikan­luc­know.com) on Si­ta­pur Road.

Evening: Slow-cooked with saf­fron and car­damom, the Mughal-in­flu­enced spe­cial­ties of Awadhi cui­sine make for an in­dul­gent din­ner at The Mughal’s Das­tarkhwan ( 29 B.N. Rd., Lal­bagh). Try the mugh­lai paratha with an or­der

of shammi ke­bab (spiced lamb skew­ers) and mut­ton in a yo­gurt-rich gravy. On the way back to your ho­tel, stop at Lad­doo Chanakya ( 3 Shyam Awadh Bazaar) for a no-frills, very lo­cal dessert of ke­sar kulfi, or saf­fron-fla­vored In­dian “ice cream,” served in leaf bowls. Wind down with a night­cap at the Re­nais­sance Ho­tel’s Sky Bar— a rare rooftop venue that stays open be­yond 10 p.m. and looks out onto twin­kling city lights across an in­fin­ity pool.

DAY TWO

Morn­ing: Rise early to get the best light at the 18th-cen­tury Bara Imam­bara. The defin­ing fea­ture of Luc­know’s sky­line is a tri­umph of tur­rets and cupo­las, fus­ing In­dian and Per­sian ar­chi­tec­tural styles. Hired guides will tell you that the fourth Nawab of Luc­know, Asaf-ud -Daula, built the sepia-col­ored com­plex as a place of con­gre­ga­tion and mourn­ing for the city’s Shia Muslims. A rather spooky labyrinth of dark, nar­row tun­nels runs through the walls on the up­per level, lead­ing ul­ti­mately to the rooftop. Here, cov­ered bal­conies re­veal a stun­ning cityscape: in the fore­ground, the Asifi Mosque and the or­nate, 18-me­ter-high Rumi Gate; be­yond it, the white­washed minarets of the Tile Wali Masjid and the red-brick Hu­sain­abad Clock Tower. Just to the west, the far smaller but in­tri­cately de­tailed Chota

Imam­bara is also worth ex­plor­ing. Be­yond the el­e­gant arches and ivory-adorned indigo fa­cade lies a daz­zling ar­ray of chan­de­liers and col­ored glass lamps, strung from ev­ery inch of the high ceil­ing.

After­noon: Catch a taxi across town to in­dulge in the lo­cal pas­time of “gan­jing”—an aim­less ram­ble through the Bri­tish-era shop­ping prom­e­nade of Hazrat­ganj, mod­eled on Lon­don’s Queen Street. Vic­to­rian-style shop fronts house in­ter­na­tional brands, hand­loom em­po­ri­ums, jew­elry stores, and out­lets of pop­u­lar In­dian cloth­ing brands Anokhi and

Fab In­dia. There are also plenty of places to stop for lunch; try the cutesy Cherry Tree Café ( 91-522/407-6648; thecher­ry­tree­bak­ery.com) for a much-needed iced cof­fee along with pas­tas, piz­zas, and light bites. Back in Gomti Na­gar, the re­cently opened

Mu­seum of So­cial­ism ( fb.com/jp­n­mu­seum/) com­mem­o­rates the so­cial­ist prin­ci­ples of J.P. Narayan, a prom­i­nent In­dian free­dom fighter. With a terra-cotta fa­cade and a strik­ing wedge shape, the mu­seum war­rants a visit for its ar­chi­tec­ture alone. Evening: Hop over to the neigh­bor­ing Vi­vanta by Taj ( 91-522/671-1000; vi­vanta.tajho­tels.com) for cock­tails at Saqi, where house spe­cials in­clude an anise-fla­vored con­coc­tion shaken with freshly squeezed or­ange juice, gin, and grena­dine. Reser­va­tions are a must for the week­end din­ner buf­fets at the ho­tel’s all-day restau­rant Lat­i­tude, but if you’re here on a week­day, the in­ter­na­tional à la carte menu will make an equally sat­is­fy­ing fin­ish to your Luc­know so­journ.

Clock­wise from far left: The or­nate in­te­ri­ors of the Chota Imam­bara, built in 1837 as a mau­soleum for the ninth Nawab of Awadh, Muham­mad Ali Shah; mak­ing chikan, a tra­di­tional em­broi­dery from Luc­know; the Re­nais­sance ho­tel’s L-14 restau­rant; a view of...

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