I finally got a chance to visit Lucknow, due to work commitments. I reached Lucknow in the morning, and checked into the Taj Residency Hotel at 10:30. Fearing the summer heat, I stayed indoors till 5:30 PM. I then found an auto rickshaw driver to show me some of the sights of the city of Nawabs.
My tour started with the Gomti river, which we crossed on our way to La Martiniere college. It was one of the most enthralling monuments I have seen in India, with it's curved facade, statues on the roof, and location overlooking the Gomti river. Right in front of the main building, and on the river bed, is a very tall tower, whose reason for existence I am as yet unable to fathom!
The tour then continued to the most famous monument of Lucknow - The Bada Imambara. Unfortunately, it was past the closing time, so I could not enter the monument, and see the famous mazes of corridors. I had to be satisfied with a view from the outside. It looked like any other Indian Mughal monument, but I am sure a more detailed look would have shown me the individualities of the monument.
The next place was the Residency, which played a role in the 1857 mutiny. It now contains ruins of the place, amidst well maintained lawns.
The last stop was shopping for the famous Lucknowi chikan.
The next day I traveled to Shahjahanpur, 180 kms and 4 hours by road from Lucknow. The drive, alond the highway to Delhi was very pleasant. I was surprised by the amount of greenery visible all around, even though it was the peak of summer. It was definitely what I expected - the hot, dusty North Indian plains. The road, being a National Highway, was very well maintained. At one point, I read that I was on the Grand Trunk road, and suddenly got very excited. The GT Road is one of the oldest and longest of Indias' highways, but it was only for a short stretch that I saw the road called the GT Road. It was a bit of a mystery for me, because it just felt like a long, straight road to me, so why was only one stretch of the road called the GT Road?
The other image that stuck with me was the sheer variety of traffic on the National Highway - bullock and horse carts, cycle, pedestrians, all competed with the buses, trucks, 2 wheelers and 4 wheelers for a piece of the 2 lane highway. I can now feel a little of the culture shock that Westerners would be experiencing when in India!
I came back to Lucknow the same day, and was back in Mumbai the next day.