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Day 32 of The Candid Odyssey

After a couple weeks of relying only on the bus, now we are back on the train! Missed the train experience, ironically :) We had an overnight travel. The 10-hour-long journey takes us to Lucknow, the capital city of Uttar Pradesh. Yes, our stay for yesterday was a train and also, we are leaving Uttarakhand state. Lucknow is a city with millions of population, and modern infrastructure, and is still known for its heritage and history. We will see what it has to offer. But before that, the rituals. Unpacking and refreshing ourselves. We have got RK Lucknow Dormitory for that. One bed out of 10 beds in a small hall. That's enough for us because you know the budget :)

Almost all popular cities across India will have a Zoo for sure. In Lucknow also, there is this Nawab Wajid Ali Shah Zoological Garden, a zoo which was built more than a century ago! Didn't know the zoo concept was already there that earlier. How come animals and birds get caged when people themselves were fighting for freedom at that time? See, we all have visited a zoo, aquarium, or something like that at some point in our life. It's enchantingly beautiful. This Lucknow Zoo we are currently in is also the same. Lots of varieties of species are managed and treated very nicely. Seeing those different species enables us to experience the beauty of nature and find happiness. But what about them? We should let them also experience the same, don't we? Who are we to deny freedom for some other lives? Imagine ourselves jailed for a lifetime even though we didn't do anything wrong. That's the life of these animals in the zoo.

Within the zoo, there is also a state museum that exhibits ancient artifacts, sculptures, and mummies. Okay, now we are getting to the history part. And we will continue that. That's why we are going to visit Bara Imambara, an imambara (a Muslim shrine) built in the 18th century by the early rulers called Nawabs. It's stunningly grand. The large garden in the front, the amazing outer view of the arches, the extremely tall ceiling, the spacious chamber, antique lighting, the cultural and historic significance, and the complex maze to the terrace, all make this one of the outstanding architectural gems that we come across on our journey. The maze or labyrinth (whatever it is) which leads to the terrace is most exciting. Seems like there are a thousand combinational paths. We also get easily trapped somewhere in the maze, until we start to follow someone who really knows the path. It excites first, then worries, and finally terrifies! Interesting, huh? From the terrace, we get a wide view of the city and we can sit there for so long. And maybe if the body allows, we can sit inside the small arched open windows seen on the terrace. I did anyway :)

We are in the heritage part of Lucknow now. As we step outside the Bara Imambara, there is more waiting for us. Iconic watchtower, monumental arch gate, historic clock tower, picture gallery, and much more. And there is a special style to all these constructions. The focus is on arches. And each of the arches in those monuments increases the beauty of the same. Now we need to know what's happening on the ground. It's mostly leisure. The entire area is very spacious and we could see many young adults playing serious cricket right beside these monuments. We can also spend time meditating on the steps of the ancient human-made pond beside the clock tower, sipping some hot Chai which comes to us! There are these tea vendors with kettles and they make sure that we drink at least one cup of tea before we leave :) The walkway beside Rumi Darwaza, the majestic arch gate, is filled with street food vendors selling savory snacks known as Chaat. Those vendors also make sure that we eat something before we leave. Cricket, Chai, Chaat - three things that's common and loved all across India! And we get to experience all three of these together this evening here in Lucknow. Hope you are enjoying it :)

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